Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2018
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
The Hymn #9 O Day of Rest and Gladness
The Confession of Sins
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
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #316 O Living Bread from Heaven
Bread from Heaven
The Communion Hymn #508 Thou Whose Almighty Word
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 # 50 Lord Dismiss Us
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.
|By Norma A. Boeckler|
Bread from Heaven
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.
In this miracle, God provides in a miraculous way, without anyone imagining how they would be taken care of. This mass of people followed Jesus out, without considered the practical consequences of a multitude being where there was no food.
This miracle is a wonderful way to consider how God works, because both sides had reason to panic and be filled with dread. The multitude came out without food for the journey home. They were attracted to the miracles, stirring up their faith and their hopes. The Messianic literature promised that these things would be true of the Christ. Faith in Jesus was growing, and so was idle curiosity.
3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
The vantage point of Jesus and the disciples allowed them to see the progress of the multitude as they walked around the Sea of Galilee. The practical ones would wonder and ask, "What will we do with all these people when they run out of food?" People forget that the desert is just as demanding of calories as a winter day is. People burn up calories in the sun, and begin growing weak. They had water available at the oasis, but water on an empty stomach is not satisfying at all.
But they were there because of faith, however slight, in this great Teacher and miracle-worker. As children, and perhaps as adults, we think about being able to see great miracles like this one. I walk down our little street and see the miracle of life bursting into bloom in the spring. That life is so completely hidden that everything seems dead. I watched the plans go into their winter sleep in the yard. The parsley was the last to go, bright and green for a long time into December, then knocked out by a hard frost.
I thought, once again, "Roses are the ugliest plants of all in winter, with nothing to show except brown branches and thorns." The sun followed the rain and all of them burst into tiny leaves, more red than green.
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?
Now the appearances are bad. Anyone can figure that out. The crowd thinks, "We can find plenty of water, but what about food?" The disciples looked at the multitude and Jesus expressed their dread and foreboding. "Where do we buy enough food?" - which is really asking, "How is it possible to provide for them out here?"
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
Philip said, "Impossible!" but in a roundabout way. A lot of bread would hardly be sufficient, and there is no Panera in sight. We were driving Team Jackson in a big van, out in the Arizona desert, and we had a similar situation with fuel. The gauge was going down to E and no town was in sight. When one popped up, it seemed so far away. The needle kept dipping downward, and thoughts of roasting within sight of the town kept dominating my thoughts.
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.
This is a classic case, certainly one followed carefully verses 8 and 9 only. "We have a little, but that nothing compared to what we need." Despair. Gloom. Pessimism. That is so natural to us that it is remarkable when people trust in those modest or even miniscule amounts to accomplish anything.
Jesus did not explain but commanded them to seat the multitude in the grassy oasis. We know plenty of water was there, because grass does not grow unless there is plenty of water. Five thousand sat down.
This enormous number shows us that the miracle will be a great one, far beyond our ability to predict. Rationalism tries to explain it, but that is ridiculous. (That is the hiding the lunch scenario, which means they had tons of food hidden away, so much that they had large amounts of leftovers. This would be called the Lesson of the Hidden Lunches Shared Because the Boy Was Generous.) So much for unbelief, which reduces a miracle to an absurd morality tale.
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.
In giving thanks and distributing the bread, Jesus is foreshadowing the Last Supper. Luther took chapter 6 away from Zwingli because the Swiss rationalist wanted to make the Lord's Supper merely symbolic. The place to start is the Consecration in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians. Four basic examples eliminate what Zwingli would like to promote. Thus chapter 6 is not primarily about Holy Communion but certainly reflects on it in the future. All Scripture passages are in harmony with each other, so that is always kept in mind. The bright passages, as they say, illuminate the dark (for us) verses.
To start with a dark passage is like saying, "I can speed because people do that in emergencies. If it is right for them, it is right for me."
The point of this miracle is to show us that the Word of God accomplishes great miracles with little or nothing. All the great works of God have started with little or nothing, often with weak and despised people too. Lutherans have forgotten the Inner Mission movement, which carried over into America from Europe. Theodor Fliedner was the least likely. One traveled to gain money to keep his parish alive. That inspired him to train young women as deaconesses, which led through Florence Nightingale (another unusual figure) to the modern nursing movement.
|Theodor Fliedner founded Kaiserwerth.|
"Later in 1850, she visited the Lutheran religious community at Kaiserswerth-am-Rhein in Germany, where she observed Pastor Theodor Fliedner and the deaconesses working for the sick and the deprived. She regarded the experience as a turning point in her life, and issued her findings anonymously in 1851; The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, for the Practical Training of Deaconesses, etc. was her first published work. She also received four months of medical training at the institute, which formed the basis for her later care."
The boosters and cheerleaders want to point to the persons, but it was God's will that these two unusual characters accomplish so much in relieving the pain and disease of vast multitudes. And this spread across America in various nursing homes, orphanages, and hospitals - and the training of nurses. We used Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis, which was started by the German Evangelical-Reformed (now UCC) leaders. These institutions multiplied until people took them for granted. And it all came from so little.
This miracle shows the efficacy of the Word. Jesus commanded and the miracle was accomplished, simply by thanking or blessing and distributing.
3. That he now takes the five loaves and gives thanks etc., teaches that nothing is too small and insignificant for him to do for his followers, and he can indeed so bless their pittance that they have an abundance, whereas even the rich have not enough with all their riches; as Psalm 34:11 says: “They that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing; but the rich must suffer hunger.” And Mary in her song of praise says: “The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” Luke 1:53.
4. Again, that he tells them so faithfully to gather up the fragments, teaches us to be frugal and to preserve and use his gifts, in order that we may not tempt God. For just as it is God’s will that we should believe when we have nothing and be assured that he will provide; so he does not desire to be tempted, nor to allow the blessings he has bestowed to be despised, or lie unused and spoil, while we expect other blessings from heaven by means of miracles. Whatever he gives, we should receive and use, and what he does not give, we should believe and expect he will bestow.
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.
Nothing is wasted in God's Kingdom. I have plenty of opportunities to teach that in our neighborhood. I point out that Creation principles will serve people far better and cost less than their solutions from the chemical toxins of the stores.
"Look close to the flowers on a calm sunny day. Those little Flower Flies are destroying pests. Do you want to spray them and kill off two generations at once? Spiders are all over the garden if you leave them alone. Spray once or use them 24/7? God designed these beneficial creatures for a purpose.
Many different conversations pop up as people consider the infinite number of dependencies within God's Creation. First He created through the Word, with perfect engineering, and perfect management. The intricacies of timing and attraction fill books.
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.
It needs to be remembered that as much as Christ did, people still got His role wrong. Thus the greatest that God does is often misunderstood and manipulated into something bade.