Sunday, March 14, 2010

Laetare - The Fourth Sunday in Lent

By Norma Boeckler

Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Daylight Savings Time

The Hymn # 151 Christ the Life 2:78
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #429 Lord Thee I Love 2:54

Three Responses to a Crisis

The Communion Hymn #508 Thou Whose 2:72
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 45 Now the Hour 2:95

KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Fourth Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.

Three Responses to a Crisis
This miracle story teaches us about how God provides and also about the Real Presence in Holy Communion.

First we need to recognize that Jesus was already answering the needs of the multitude before they arrived. He looked at them as they arrived and was answering their needs before they thought to ask. In fact, who would even ask for what Jesus provided?

In many cases, Jesus asked questions and performed acts so that people could see the power of God and remember the lessons being taught. The Gospel of John is careful to connect the miracles with the Word. Jesus performed miracles to authenticate the power of His teaching. No one else could perform such miracles and His divine status could not be denied.

Some people think the power revealed should have converted everyone. Even with such examples as a Grade Point Average, the assumed result is often the opposite of the actual result. I have many students who begin by declaring they want to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, an A in every single class. That is almost impossible, as I point out, but it is also annoying to everyone with less than a perfect average. By definition, going around bragging about that would irritate about 99% of all graduates (including me).

When Jesus performed miracles, He impressed everyone. Some followed Him to hear the Word. Others followed to see even more miracles. Still others were jealous and resentful, their hatred fired by His basic teaching – true righteousness comes from faith in Him, not from inside of them.

This lesson alone should teach us that the Word of God has the power to consecrate the elements and provide an infinite supply, but this very teaching of God’s grace and forgiveness, the Visible Word, annoys and irritates people so they write vast numbers of books and essays trying to disprove it.

First Response
Jesus asked questions of His disciples so they would remember and teach others how they misunderstood the Savior at many level. As the multitude approached, He asked them about getting them food.

He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Jesus asked, already knowing what He would do.

Philip was expressing the kind of response that comes from experience and human reason. Even if they had enough money, it would not be enough to provide for so vast a group. Of course, where would one find a supply so great in a dessert area.
Most people have had the experience of being on a highway where basic facilities were few and far between. Route 66 in Arizona can seem like a B movie where the passengers despair of finding a gas station or the humblest food place. We rejoiced on one stretch when we finally reached Oatman and found the burros on the road, begging for food. On another trip we watched the needle at E as we approached a town, hoping that E was an exaggeration.

Feeding a multitude in the desert is impossible. Everyone knows that.

Churches always agree – there is not enough money. One look at Third World churches will show that they get by on a lot less. One congregation refused to believe that a photo of a church was a church. It looked like a bad chicken house. For a tiny amount of money they built a decent but modest building – in India.

No one would know from church meetings that “God will provide,” and that He Himself knew what He would do.

Second Response

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Andrew responded, using human reason again. They had a tiny amount of food, but it was not enough. Anyone could see that. No one thought to ask what Jesus would do.

Jesus’ Answer

Jesus had the men sit down in the grassy area. That had to be an oasis, since grass would not grow in the baking desert heat with no little rain falling.

Jesus blessed the bread and fish and had them distributed. Every single person had all he could eat, and there were more leftovers than they began with. This was the clearest possible sign that Jesus provided far more than anyone could have imagined, and He was planning this before He questioned His disciples.

Real Presence

This miracle reminds us of how God provides for our material needs.

But it also teaches us about consecration and the Real Presence. This miracle happened because of the Word. When God speaks, God’s will is accomplished. This has been true since the Word created at the beginning of time. Strangely, Lutherans will state their faith in Creation by the Word but ignore the obvious applications in all areas of the Christian faith.
When Jesus said, “This is My Body,” did He not mean those exact words? Why do people want to say, “This is only a symbol of My Body” and “This will be My Body when you receive it”?

Only a symbol – that is the Calvinistic revolt against the Real Presence, against the efficacy of the Word.

When you receive it – that is the Receptionist view, very similar to the Calvinistic view above, because it separates the work of the Holy Spirit from the Word. In the Receptionist view, a human act is required (receiving it) in order to make it the Body and Blood of Christ.

Understanding God’s Word as belonging to God alone, we can see that this weekly miracle is exactly what Jesus teaches us in the Last Supper. It is the Body and Blood of Christ and it does take away our sin.

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