August 2, 2015
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS
INI + AMEN.
What sort of King is Jesus? After the Feeding of the 5,000, there was a problem. “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” So, what sort of King is Jesus? Or, since we don’t have kings, what sort of president would He be? If Jesus were president, what sort of programs would He have? Would we expect Him to have? Especially if He’d been promised for centuries.
We would have all sorts of expectations about Him. The people certainly did. In fact, what sort of expectations do we have even now about Jesus? Why do we look to Him? Why do we believe in Him? Are we looking to get something out of the relationship? What’s our angle on Jesus? What sort of box do we try to fit Him in? But the better question is how does Jesus define Himself as King? What does King Jesus do for His people? In what Jesus says to us today, we find out that
JESUS IS THE TRUE BREAD KING.
(I. Not for our bodies.)
That’s what the crowd wanted: a bread king. And not in a good way! Jesus calls them out on it, “Truly, truly I say to you: You are seeking Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate from the loaves and were satisfied.” They only went here, there, and everywhere because of what they thought they could get out of Jesus. Julius Caesar fed the poor in Rome with a grain stipend, and he was popular. Clearly this was an even better welfare program than that! Jesus was popular because their bellies were full. Jesus wasn’t their God. Their God, as Paul says, “is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
What about you? What sort of things do you look to Jesus for? What sort of king do you expect Him to be? If you’re a good subject in His kingdom, will you be given all sorts of good things? Will you have so much money like Scrooge McDuck, that you can swim in the piles of money? Will you have good health? Will those you love never get sick nor die from horrible things like cancer? If He could finally have His way with society, would it turn around and be well-behaved, good-mannered, and moral? We could have Jesus parades and people would rejoice, businesses would be closed all day Sunday, the 10 commandments could be posted anywhere and everywhere, we would be in all ways a Christian nation and a society free from the godless, the gays, the transgendered, the murderers of children, the lying and thieving politicians. You know, those people, the sinners!
Repent. Even if all those things happened we wouldn’t be any closer to Jesus. In fact, we’d be farther from Him. Jesus Himself says, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” His is not an earthly kingdom. The giving of temporal blessings is not a sign of His kingdom. “God gives daily bread even to all evil people,” as we learn in the Catechism from Dr. Luther of blessed and holy memory. Just because you do what God says doesn’t mean you have faith. Just because you trust in Christ doesn’t mean you won’t suffer. In fact, if there was an earthly kingdom of Christ, we’d be in trouble. Earthly kingdoms only work via the law, so that kind of kingdom would mean you and I would be expelled. It would be an empty kingdom.
(II. For our bodies and souls forever.)
Jesus is the Bread King, but not for our bodies, for this life and world. He is the true Bread King and that means Bread for our bodies and souls forever. He doesn’t rule in His true kingdom, His Church, through the Law. Rather He works through the Gospel. He works with you, deals with you, reigns over you with the proclamation that He will not count your sins against you because He has died and risen FOR YOU. He satisfies you not with your next lunch, but with more than that. He satisfies you with true bread, true manna. He satisfies you with angels’ food, with heavenly manna. He satisfies you with Himself.
Only the Lord Himself can give this bread, can send this bread to you. “Truly, truly I say to you,” says Jesus, “Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but My Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. God’s Bread is He who is coming down from heaven and giving life to the world.” Jesus is God’s Bread. “I am the Bread of Life,” He says. He gives life to the world by giving His life for the world. This doesn’t give bread for an earthly meal. His kingdom isn’t of this world. “From God the Father, virgin-born To us the only Son came down; By death the font to consecrate, The faithful to regenerate.” That is, to enliven, to give us true life, faith in Him that will give way to everlasting life.
Jesus, the life-giving Manna, the faith-strengthening Bread from heaven, is such a bread that “whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never ever thirst.” We are strengthened by this bread in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. Manna was given by God to the Israelites so that they would be nourished, but in the Supper is the true Manna, the body and blood of Jesus, which if anyone eats and drinks He will never truly hunger forever. God doesn’t just feed us with some spiritual pick-me-up, but with His own self He feeds us, with His body and blood. He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the one true King, begotten of His Father before all worlds, and born of the house and lineage of David. Born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, Jesus is the true bread King. He doesn’t have an earthly kingdom. He rules His heavenly kingdom through the Gospel. And He is not only a Bread King because He gives out bread, but because He is the very bread that He gives. Because of this we will never hunger or thirst. We rejoice in Jesus’ promise from later in John 6: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.” Long live the King!
INI + AMEN.