Laetare—Lent 4 (Jn 6:1–15)
INI + AMEN.
Rejoice! Laetare! We’ve lightened the Lenten purple to rose. We see the heart of Lent this week—the joy of it. Lent isn’t all about sadness, darkness, ashes, death. It is if you look at you, then only those things. That’s our trouble. We’re turned inward. If it’s not about me, I tend to not care, but Lent’s not about you or me. That’s where the joy comes in. Lent’s about Jesus. All eyes on Him—Him for you. With Jesus, eyes fixed on Him and His cross, there’s no mourning, there’s joy. We follow Him on His Calvary, salvation way. The royal banners forward go! Rejoice! “Rejoice with Jerusalem,” His Church, “all you who love her.” Rejoice! Laetare! Her King, your King is come!
((2. What sort of King?))
But what sort of King? That’s always the question, now. Isn’t it? Those in our text had thoughts about that. “They saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” “The people also saw the sign that Jesus did” when He fed them. Miracle worker. “The Prophet.” “Make Him king. We’ll get more bread. We won’t be hungry. Not only that: if He’s the Prophet, the King, maybe He’ll kick the Romans butts and we’ll finally be free!”
Power. That’s the way of things with kings and rulers. Power to provide. Power to conquer. Power to rule. That’s what it takes. What king reigned without power? What ruler was there that had absolutely no influence? It all comes down to power.
Maybe we like to find fault with the people in our text, but really we’re no different. We want power and influence, and so we vote for whom we vote for. They’ve got the power. They’ll wield it the way I want. I’ll get what I want. Power.
Jesus rejects all that. He doesn’t exercise power like we expect from a king or ruler. He doesn’t crush and conquer. He doesn’t empower His people for worldly gain. He doesn’t call His subjects to fight for Him, to conquer governments or movements, to set Him up as king, ruler, president, supreme leader, dictator, or whatever other titles we seem to care so much about.
Does He have power? He shows He has it by rejecting it, our worldly concerns over it. Jesus is the true king, and He shows His power by weakness, His life by death, His command by mercy, His fear by forgiveness. He doesn’t need to seize power: political or otherwise. Why does He need to seize what He already has? He shows His power by being such a king that never was before or has been since. The true King is come! Laetare! Rejoice!
((1. Where does that sort of King get you?))
All others fall short of Him. Kings and rulers last a lifetime or less. A president’s influence lasts at least 4 years. Influence of 8 years can be erased in a flash. What does it gain? Nothing. It’s empty. Vain. Hopeless. Meaningless. All empty glory. As Ecclesiastes tells us over and over again, showing our foolishness. We get so worked up over people and things—power, really—and in the end, what does it matter? At the end of the day, at the end of your life, what does it matter who had local, national, or worldly power?
Jesus the true King, however, gets us to the right spot. He’s the right sort of King, whose reign and influence, brings His followers to where He wants them to be. Rejoice! At the end of your life, what the true King delivers matters a great deal.
“The Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.” He delivers Himself, the true Passover Lamb. Lamb divine! He’s the Passover King. He shows it not by giving but by removing plagues from the sick. He shows it not by bread from heaven, but by bread from His own hand. He doesn’t lead His people into wilderness and death, but “there was much grass in the place”—He leads to where the abundant supply of Him is delivered. Apart from Him there is no good thing. Rejoice! He gives Himself.
He won’t be seized to occupy some worldly throne in some worldly palace or white house. Yes, the signs pointed to Him being the true and passover King, but, seized and led up the mountain, only one sign openly confessed and declared His reign—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. There His throne, His crown, His life into death. There the true King, the passover King exercises the greatest power in the greatest weakness: blood shed, last breath, death.
Rejoice! Laetare, dear saints of God! Yes, Jesus is the true King that way. He’s the passover King in the giving of Himself. JESUS IS YOUR TRUE PASSOVER KING. There His power. His glory. His giving. His cross! His Gifts!
Bread and fish of His bountiful goodness. What joy there! But more—Himself He gives! Life into death. Body pierced. Blood shed. That’s the sort of King Jesus is. There’s joy! Jerusalem’s joy, the Church’s joy, your joy. Rejoice! Laetare! This is the heart of Lent. The King is come! Which King? The true King, the Passover King. Whose King? Your King. That’s Jesus. JESUS IS YOUR TRUE PASSOVER KING. Who again delivers on His promise: body and blood of His bountiful goodness. For you. For the forgiveness of your sins.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem,” His Church, “all you who love her.” Rejoice! Laetare! Your true passover King is come! No other sort of true King than Him.
INI + AMEN.