Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Laetare â€“ Lent 4 (March, 22, 2009)
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE
TITLE: â€œGodâ€™s Heavenly Provisionsâ€
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel lesson just read from John chapter 6, Jesusâ€™ feeding of the 5000. This morningâ€™s sermon is about trust in God for all things in our life.
God delivered the people of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh in Egypt with a mighty hand. Their slavery had lasted for generations, four hundred years and more. There was hardly a memory in their midst of a time when they werenâ€™t in slavery. But God freed them. It began with a meal, really. The passover, the night when the angel of death went through the camps of the Egyptians and struck down the first-born. Then through Moses, the deliverer, God led the people out of the camps of Egypt, through the Red Sea on dry ground, and promised to be their God. He promised to provide for them and for their children. And he did. Time and time again. The manna and quail in the wilderness. The water flowing from the rock. Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. For as long as Israel was a nation, God provided for them as a father provides for His children. He disciplined them when they rebelled, and forgave them when they repented of their evil. God loves His people. He always has. He always will.
Today we look at another passover, or an event right near the passover. The people had followed Jesus up the mountain, just like the people of old had followed Moses to Mt. Sinai. They listened to Jesusâ€™ words, and they had seen the signs. He healed the sick. Everything with Jesusâ€™ pointed to the fact that He was more than another prophet. He was not just another teacher. Jesus was something special, He, like Moses, acted as the finger of God, pointing the way to Heaven, and using His healing touch to heal the people of all their sicknesses of body and soul.
So before we move on with our story, letâ€™s ask the question: what do you look for in Jesus? Or to ask it another way, why do you go to Church? Do you go to church to be healed? Do you go to church in order for God to do something for you, or in order for you to do something for God? So often when we examine our lives, and the reasons we do things, it is not nearly as clear and as Gospel centered as it should be. I go to church because my spouse wants me to. I go to church because my parents make me. I go to church because I think Iâ€™m supposed to go. I go to church because I think that if I do my part, God will take care of me. Our sin this Lent is believing that we do these things for God. We make bargains, strike deals, and try to placate God with the Law, but it never works. As long as you are trying to satisfy God with your behavior, you will fail. But even more than that, you miss the greatest gifts that God has to give you in this place. Repent. You are not sons and daughters born into slavery (Gal. 4), but you are children of the promise. That promise is for you and for your children.
So back to Jesus on the mountain. The disciples donâ€™t understand how Jesus is going to feed all these people, five thousand men plus women and children. How often do we understand how God provides for us? Jesus miraculously feed all the people. He feeds them until they are satisfied. He feeds them so that there is more than enough left over. Thatâ€™s what God does. He takes care of His people, day in, day out. Lutherâ€™s words to the Fourth Petition certain come to mind here:
The Fourth Petition
? Give us this day our daily bread.
What does this mean?
?God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What is meant by daily bread?
?Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
Now letâ€™s bring this down to earth and understand what God is promising here. God promises to give you everything you need to support this body and life. Everything. Period. He doesnâ€™t promise you how He is going to do it. He promises that He is going to do it. Nor does He promise you what exactly you need. Some of those needs are obvious. He promises food and drink, clothing, a roof over your head and the like. Notice, though, that He promises to provide you with you you need, not what you think you need. He is God, not you. You may not need as big of a retirement plan as you thought or hoped. You may not need even family or friends or neighbors as you think. It may be that they need to be with Him in heaven more than you need to have them here. Again, He is God and you are not.
Most importantly, though, you need Jesus. No matter what happens in your life, you sin, you break His commandments, and you break and hurt your relationships with those around you. So He gives you Jesus. He is our priceless treasure above all others. Specifically, He gives you Jesus in the forgiveness of sins. That, more than anything else, is why He gives you the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lordâ€™s Supper. He gives this to you to forgive your sins. He gives Himself to you so that you may learn to trust Him in all things. The Christian lives by the Lordâ€™s Supper. It is what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus. It is our discipline as Christians. I donâ€™t mean discipline in the Law sense. I mean discipline in the sense that God teaches us to follow Him, to be His disciple, in the Sacrament.
This is true no matter what is happening in the economy. This is true no matter how far behind you are in your bills. This is true here in our congregation, as we continue to seek our Lordâ€™s guidance with our finances, and how to continue to serve the people of God in this place. God promises to provide. Period. He has given us what we need, both as individuals and as a congregation. Trust that when our Lord says that He loves you that He means it. Know that when He says I will provide for you and your little ones, that those are not idle words. Believe that Jesusâ€™ death and resurrection seals and guarantees that Godâ€™s mercy to you and your family lasts forever. In Jesusâ€™ name. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.