Including below is the bulletin for the 4th Sunday in Lent, video of the Scripture reading and sermon, and prayers. The video quality is not wonderful, but we are working on making that a little better in the future.
John 6:1–15 1After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
This Lenten season has become a time of unexpected fasts. Some of these fasts have been self-imposed – not going out as much as we normally would, refraining from being in larger crowds, going without certain foods or supplies because we do not want to the hassle of the stores or whatever else.
Some of these fasts, however, are out of our control. Activities are being cancelled left and right. Stores, schools, church activities, restaurants, and more. While some might fast for a while, at least when it is self-denial, we often know the end date, or intend to make a lifelong change on purpose. When it is out of our control there is fear, sadness, despair over what has been given up.
Fasting does serve a purpose, and there is a reason why Christians have long held this practice, especially during the season of Lent. It’s not to kick start a diet, or give up some overindulgence for a time, but there is spiritual side of it all. In the times of denial of certain things, we look outside of ourselves and our efforts to the One who gives every good and perfect gift from above.
It is the case that we find ourselves following Jesus to hear His teaching and yet wondering all the while how we are going to eat, how we are going to be provided for, and what tomorrow might bring. Where are we really going? In John 6, crowds have been following Jesus because they had seen the signs He was doing on the sick. The Passover was at hand. This was the greatest holiday, the greatest festival of the entire year. Like so many of us today when we celebrate holidays, it was also a time of great feasting. But how were they going to do that in their situation. They were too far out, not enough stores, not enough money, not enough food for the people. And what they do have seems too little.
What are you hungry for? Hungry to get out of your house? Hungry for the daily routine that seems to have been left behind? Almost everyone will experience these sorts of hunger and inconvenience because of recent events and the events to come. For some, it will be much more than an inconvenience. Hardships will come to many. Fasts from jobs, income, food, healthcare, and the list may go on. As Christians, we want to help others but say the Lord, “Where are we going to get the money for this? There isn’t enough for each of them to get a little.” Jesus does not let empty shelves prevent Him from feeding His people, nor overwhelming crowds, nor fear or uncertainty. We sing in one of our Communion hymns. “You satisfy the hungry heart, with gift of finest wheat. Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat” (LSB 641). With the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus reveals Himself to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. He is the bread of life who gives Himself for the life of the world.
As Jesus used the gifts of the five loaves and two fish to provide for others, and used people to distribute this to others, so He continues to work through meager beginnings and efforts of people here and now. We are to love another as Christ has loved us. We are to serve one another as we have been served. We are to It is important to remember that Jesus is Lord over the government as well as over His Church. all authority on heaven and earth has been given to Christ, and He wields it through authorities He establishes on earth, as sinful, corrupt, or broken as it may be in its worst. St. Paul reminds us that that authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing [to be a servant for your good and to punish evil] (Romans 13:1-7). God’s will will be done, according to His Word and promise.
So not be afraid. You already have victory in Christ. Jesus continues to feed His people by means of His Word, and this is the food of eternal life. He draws His people to Himself, and indeed uses times of hardship and struggle to do so. I pray it is that way for you now. Lent, Holy Week, Eater, are celebrated everyday through our life in Christ. This doesn’t only happen in the church services, but in the lives of the people of God when they remember and believe in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The full forgiveness of our sins, the grace of God, eternal life are all given to you freely and received by faith in Him. Jesus is the bread of life by whom we have life eternal. In His T holy name. Amen.