Lent 4—Laetare (Jn 6, 1–15)

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᛭ INI ᛭

(5. Oops!: It all seemed hopeless.)

You can sense the hopeless, the despair, the lack of faith in how Philip and Andrew respond to Jesus. “Bread worth two hundred denarii,” said Philip, “would not be enough for them so that each would get a little.” It’s even more hopeless with Peter’s brother, Andrew, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but these—what is this for so many?”

(4. Ugh!: It all seems hopeless.)

Hopelessness drives the world, drives the news, drives how we live our lives. Sure, we can put a pretty bow on our optimism, but it’s really just a front. Most of the time, we’re glass half-empty people. Or it might depend on what we’re filling up. We might even be glass quarter-empty people based how much filling up is going to run us—gas tank, propane tank, anhydrous tank.

The worry, fear, and hopelessness we experience affects all aspects of our lives. It’s why our frugality with our money and possessions turns into being stingy, miserly, and just plain ungenerous—holding on for ourselves alone. This makes us a Scrooge not only with our love for other people when it comes to our money and things, but even with the weightier and more important matters of “justice, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, and forgiveness.”

We act out hopelessness daily and much. Anger, resentment, grudges, the lack of generosity, kindness, and gentleness we experience and cause others to experience are symptoms of our unbelief. The feeling of hopelessness and despair is just one emotional aspect of our unbelief.

We don’t “fear, love, and trust in” Jesus above all things, and so that spins our lives and our relationships out of control. We try to wrench the reins away from Jesus. We feel and think and say far worse things when it comes our worry and fear than Philip and Andrew.

(3. Aha!: With King Jesus at the helm, nothing is truly hopeless.)

But the truth is, with Jesus in charge, there’s no reason reason not to trust Him. Jesus is King, and with Him at the helm, nothing is truly hopeless. Jesus is King: “He Himself knew what He was about to do.” This was certainly the case for the miraculous Feeding of the 5,000. There was no reason for Philip and Andrew to despair of what our Lord would and could do.

But Jesus knowing “what He Himself was about to do” has farther reaching implications. What was Jesus about to do? Besides feed the thousands? Well, “It was Passover,” which, of course, echos of Jesus’ death. But there’s more. It’s at the end: “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”

(2. Whee!: King Jesus is seized at the proper time.)

When Jesus has a mind to accomplish something, nothing’s really going to stop Him. From before the foundation of the world He and His Father hatched a plan to redeem the sinners who turn against Him. Jesus is only “taken by force,” literally “seized,” only when He means to. You can’t seize Jesus unless He suffers Himself to be taken. And so here on this plain, “‌when Jesus knew that they were about to come and seize (ἁρπάζειν) Him to make Him King, He alone departed again to the mountain.”

Jesus is seized not by the sea of Galilee, where “there is much grass in the place,” but He is taken away, arrested, seized, as it were, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Arrested and charged as a blasphemer, as a false Christ. His many miracles were signs to His true identity. Feeding the thousands, healing the sick, raising the dead as confessed Him as the God of Israel come again to dwell among His people, that He “might be their God and they His people.”

He is eventually condemned for this claim. The charge hung over Him: “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” The Chief Priets, for their part, disavow their Lord as King: “We have no king but Caesar.” The people follow the preaching of these unfaithful priests. “Crucify Him!” they cry. “His blood be upon us and on our children.”

And yet in His mercy, that’s exactly what King Jesus does. Seized, crucified, suffered, killed at the proper time for them. He is King from His cross, pardoning the iniquity of His people. Their sins He takes away. He declares their rebellion over, not by wrath but by His own suffering, even swapping placed with Barabbas, a murderous rebel! “He was numbered with the transgressors.” Killed between two thieves. “Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” your sin, my sin, too.

(1. Yeah!: KING JESUS GIVES BREAD AND HOPE.)

Calvary means there is hope. Easter means there is victory on top of hope. “Hope” doesn’t just spring eternal, some empty phrase. No, “hope” comes up, comes back, comes back to life! Jesus is your Hope, your Faith, your Life, your Righteousness. He is faithful. “The saying is trustworthy,” Paul says, “for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim 3)

“Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.” Jesus comes back from the dead, ascends into heaven, where He stands for you as your eternal righteousness. He gives hope because He is our hope. With Him as our Hope we never have to fear.

He also gives daily bread. Because of His mercy in Christ Jesus, the heavenly Father “gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people. We pray in [the 4th Petition] that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” He supports our body and life, not our every worldly desire. He does so even in spite of the evil of our flesh that desires and worries and is hopeless.

This is our reason for joy this week! We’re not hopeless as citizens, coheirs with King Jesus, in His kingdom. Joy is the emotional aspect of faith, which is why we can have joy in the midst of sadness. Our joy is that

KING JESUS GIVES BREAD AND HOPE.

He doesn’t break and crush and condemn. He recalls us to Himself. He gives what we need to support this body and life. He gives us hope even as He died and rose for us. He also gives us the Bread of Hope—His own body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

Nothing is truly hopeless. Christ died. Christ rose. Christ is King. The King who gives bread and hope. Eternal hope. Hope strengthened by His Supper: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood, remains in Me and I in him, and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.”

Hope and joy indeed!

᛭ INI ᛭

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