2023-03-19 Lent 4—Laetare 2023 (Jn 6, 1–15; Ex 16, 2–21; Acts 2, 41–47)

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“He Himself knew what He was going to do.”

᛭ INI ᛭

Does the Lord know what He’s doing? Based on our experiences, could go either way, right? Philipp was thinking, “No,” when Jesus said, “Where should we buy bread, so these people may eat?” (Jn 6) The people of Israel thought “no,” too. “Would that we had died by [YAHWEH’s hand] in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you”—that’s Moses and Aaron—“have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Ex 16) As we live “day by day,” do we “receive [our] food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2)?

Remember: “daily bread includes everything that has to do with the supports and needs of the body.” (SC 4th Pet.) The Lord graciously supplies “all that we need to support this body and life” (SC 1st Art.), and He graciously supplies our needs for eternal life as well. As Jesus says later in John 6, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Whenever the Lord does His gracious giving, we often wonder, doubt, or even grumble—bristle!—at His giving. So, does the Lord really know what He’s doing in His gracious giving? A faithful answer comes only when we look at what He’s already done and promises to do FOR YOU.

(3. The LORD gives bread to His people.)

What’s the LORD done? He, in gracious fashion, gives bread to His people. The LORD Jesus is King, Son of David. “They were about to seize Him to make Him King.” He’d been born “in the city David, which is called Bethlehem.” (Lk 2) (“Bethlehem” means “House of Bread.”) The LORD, who gives bread, born in House of Bread.

He gave bread for Israel. (Manna—“what is it?” “It is the bread [Yahweh] your God is giving to you.”) They gathered it daily—twice as much on Friday, since there was none on the Sabbath. In gracious giving, “Day by day,” “morning by morning,” there was Manna, until they came into the Promised Land.

The LORD gave them “daily bread” “in the wilderness,” so also the 5,000 in Galilee, from “fives loaves and two small fish.” “Jesus took the bread, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to those who were sitting, likewise also of the fish, as much as they wanted.”

The Lord graciously gives bread for this life and also the bread of eternal life. The earliest Christians in Jerusalem “devoted themselves to the breaking of the bread,” that is, the Sacrament of the Altar. “Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes.” Thus they “received their food with glad and generous hearts,” that is, “they received their daily bread with thanksgiving.” (SC 4th Pet.)

In gracious giving, the LORD gives FOR YOU. “Daily bread”—“All that you need to support this body and life,” (SC 1st Pet.) until He “graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.” (SC 7th Pet.) While we wander the wilderness of life, He also gives us “bread of life”—“His flesh given for the life of the world,” “the breaking of the bread,” that is, the Supper of His body and blood.

(2. We bristle at the LORD’s giving.)

Wherever the Lord gives, there a human heart to doubt or grumble or disagree. It’s an old problem. Ever since the Garden, where the devil twisted our hearts to reject to LORD’s gracious giving, we don’t think the Lord knows what He’s doing in His giving. “Why’d He give a tree for not eating? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?” Everything the Lord gives or does not give is a gift.

And so, the Israelites grumbled, because they didn’t think the LORD knew what He was doing! Even when the manna came, some doubted His everyday giving, so they gathered more than they should. Others didn’t listen to His Sabbath Word and didn’t gather enough. The Lord had His way of giving, and at every turn His people had different ideas.

With such a heart, Philipp also doubted. The LORD, who gave manna for 40 years, shows up and is determined to give the 5,000 bread, and Philipp doesn’t think it’s possible. Yet, just like in the wilderness, there’s no lack of bread! The LORD does it with “twelve baskets” of leftovers!

We, too, wonder at His “daily bread,” that He isn’t gracious in His giving or doesn’t care well enough to give us what we need for body and life. And when He gives His way, enough but not the abundance we imagine for ourselves, we grumble. And when the Lord attaches promises to bread “This is My body given FOR YOU,” promises to wine, “This is My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” all sorts of different ideas pop up.


But the Lord does know what He’s doing! Certainly in Galilee, “He knew what He was going to do,” when “the Passover the Feast of the Jews was near.” A feast that proclaims His death. The Lord, in gracious giving, gives Himself into death. Christ, the true “passover Lamb,” would soon “be sacrificed” (1 Cor 8), to rescue us from our sin-slavery, that manifests itself in doubting and grumbling or even rejecting of His gracious giving.

The Father “who did not spare His own Son, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? (Rom 8)” Like Father, like Son. The Son, too, knows something about “daily bread.”


So, He gave it, daily to the Israelites. Not only that their “clothes did not [wear] out, and [their] sandals did not wear off [their] feet.” (Dt 29) He gave it to the 5,000 as well. More than enough! “Twelve baskets of fragments.” Sure, those are miracles, but He still maintains “seedtime and harvest.” (Gen 10) He still “makes His sun shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Mt 5) He cares for the sparrow and the grass and the lily, how much more you!


Even the bread that is His body, and the wine that is His blood, FOR YOU and your forgiveness. He gives and we receive. What He graciously gives is thus received graciously. “Day by day breaking bread in their homes”—the Lord gives so graciously! Can it be thus received graciously? Yes, every time for “Whoever believes His words has exactly what they say, ‘Forgiveness of sins.’” (SC) Faith alone “truly,” really, only, for reals makes you “worthy and well prepared.” (SC)


The Lord does know what He’s doing, especially when it comes to graciously giving. The proof of His gracious giving is in the giving of His flesh unto death for the sin and so for the life of the world.


Not only “daily bread” but also the bread of eternal life, which is His flesh. He will give “daily bread” until He “takes you from this valley of sorrow.” in the meantime He prepares us for the true promised land with the Manna of His body and blood, which is always beneficial, received in faith, trusting in His Word, trusting that


᛭ INI ᛭

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