Sermon – John 6.1-15 (Lent 4 – 2019)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your Son You fed five thousand men in the wilderness with five loaves and two fish: We beseech You graciously to abide also with us in the fullness of Your blessing. Preserve us from greed and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, and in all things perceive Your fatherly goodness; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. 

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”

 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,

 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.

 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”

 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

 14 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.”

 15 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.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Jesus Is Bread that Gives Eternal Life

Dear fellow redeemed,

Jesus said to the believing thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Certainly, his body would go into the ground, but his soul will be the Lord in heaven. Jesus also quoted the Father’s words in the Old Testament, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then He argues, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had already died long before Jesus, but yet they are alive, their souls are with God in heaven. David, after his illegitimate son died, said, “I shall go to him, but He shall not return to me.” The child will not come to life again in the body and restored to David, but the child is somewhere, for David will go to him. Their souls are in heaven with the Lord. Then there’s also the Rich Man and Lazarus. They both died. Both their bodies returned to the ground, but their souls continue to live on, Lazarus’ soul at Abraham’s side in heaven, and the rich man’s soul in eternal torment in hell.

The soul is eternal. God creates man’s soul at conception, and each soul lives on for eternity, either with God or cast away from God. The soul either enjoys eternal life or suffers eternal death.

This is a bit more of a weighty matter than what we’re going to have for lunch today.

The Israelites at Mt. Sinai, became very well aware of the need for their eternal souls. God came down upon the mountain accompanied by His holy angels, and He proclaimed His law to them. His holiness was manifested upon the mountain by the smoke and fire, the thunder and the lightning. And the Israelites were deathly afraid of the voice of God and the vision of His presence. The sinfulness of their souls became so clear in contrast to the holiness of God and His law. Their soul will surely be damned. They will die! They requested that Moses speak to them for God, so that they would not die.

And God was pleased by this request. He said to Moses, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (Deut 18:15).

This Prophet will come from among the Israelites. And He will speak for God. He will preach, and they ought to hear Him. He will speak words so that their souls shall not die eternally. He will preach good news to them, the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand. “Life eternal in God’s kingdom is found in Me. In Me is forgiveness that your souls do not die forever, but that you may live eternally.

But the Jews of Jesus day didn’t get it. Their concern was mainly their bodies. They were after Jesus for the healing of their bodies and the satisfaction in their bellies. And He did it. Jesus, in His grace, provided for their bodies. He healed them; He fed them.

“This must be the Prophet that God promised!” so they thought. They were right, but they had a different idea about what this Prophet would do. Their thoughts were only of their bodies. They had in mind that this Prophet would be able to provide for their bodies, after all He did miraculously feed them. With such ability and power, He ought to be their king and provide for them all their physical needs. And they tried to make Jesus king, but Jesus escaped their plans.

But isn’t this the way it is for us. We have the tendency to focus on the body and neglect the needs of our souls. This is not to say we shouldn’t take care of our bodies. No, we should. Our bodies are given us by God and we should take care of them, but we don’t do that to the neglect of the soul.

We adorn our bodies with clothing that we may be acceptable to the world, rather than adorn our souls with humility, for a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise? We look in the mirror each day so that we may look presentable to the world, rather than look at the mirror of God’s law so that we may know what the Lord expects of us His redeemed, and that we may see our sins and our need for the Prophet who speaks of the good news of forgiveness. Our prayer life intensifies when we are sick in our bodies, which is good, but we do not go to God in prayer about the sickness of our souls. We are preoccupied with and worry about what we shall eat and drink, and what we will wear, our lives motivated and revolving around these things, but the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which we ought to seek first, is only a peripheral part of life. And thus attending church, hearing God’s Word, and receiving the sacrament is viewed only as something we might fit into our lives, rather than having it as the center of our lives.

But Jesus comes not to fill your bellies. Surely, the loving Father provides for your daily bread. But Jesus comes to be the Prophet to stand between you and the Father that you may have salvation for your souls. Hear Him; receive Him; partake of Him. For He is the Bread of Life which comes down from heaven to feed your souls and give you life eternal.

This is our greatest need for we are sinful and God is holy, and on account of our sins, we are damned. But the sinless Jesus stands under the wrath of God and the judgment of His holy Law in our place, for our sins. He received the punishment in both body and soul. His soul became sorrowful even unto death, and suffered hell as He endured the wrath of His Father on the cross. His body suffered beatings, crucifixion and death. Jesus gave His body and soul in sacrifice that you may be saved eternally. He suffers hell that your soul may enjoy heaven. He suffers that you are forgiven all of your sins. He gives His life seeking you and your life in His kingdom, so that you are delivered from preoccupation with the concerns of the body, and that your soul may have the joys and peace of His kingdom.

He is the Prophet who stood between you and the wrath of God. And having done so, as a Prophet He speaks and gives Himself to you through His Word and Sacraments. Through them He, the Bread of Life, nourishes your soul with His forgiveness, feeds your faith, and gives you life eternal. And in joy you hear Him, and His words of love and everlasting life!

And surely not only our soul benefit from the saving work of Christ. For we are not just a soul, but we are soul and body. And Christ did not assume only a human soul to save the soul, but He became soul and body to save us both soul and body. Yes, when we die, our body goes to the ground, and for us believers, our souls go to be with the Lord. Yet, we are not complete. But we and all the saints in heaven look forward to the day of resurrection. For Christ bodily rose from the grave. On the Day of His return in judgment, so also our bodies shall rise perfect, and be joined again to our souls, we shall enjoy eternal life with the Lord in both body and soul.

We rightfully go to God in prayer for our needs of our body. But Jesus is more than a bread king. He is the King of Salvation, that saves us, body and soul, eternally. He is the Prophet proclaiming His salvation to you in Word and Sacrament, upon which we feast and are saved. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.

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