Jesus Feeds You With Himself
St. John 6:1-15 (3/6/16)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
St. John 6:14-15 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord… From the very beginning of Lent we heard how the Devil tried to tempt Jesus to be some other kind of Son of God than the one He is. Instead of being the Son of God who goes to the cross for sinners, the Devil tried to get Jesus to be the kind of Son who makes rocks into bread and jumps off buildings.
When the Canaanite woman cried out for Jesus’ help, the disciples insisted He get rid of her, that he be some kind of Jesus other than He is. When Jesus cast out the demon from a man who couldn’t speak, some of the people accused Him of working for Beelzebub, the ruler of demons. Today, when Jesus makes a handful of bread and fish into a feast for thousands they want to make Him into their King right then and there!
In all of these instances there is a temptation to see and believe in Jesus for some other reason than what He came to be and do. In the Wilderness, the Israelites demanded that God feed them; and as soon as He did, they decided to go and make a golden calf and worship that instead! Brothers and sisters, pay close attention today. We are gathered here in church to hear again what sort of a Jesus we have – who He is and who He isn’t, what He has done for us not just for this life but for eternal life.
Jesus’ main work is not to feed people. It’s not even to heal people. The main work of your Savior is to save you from your sins. That is why He does not let the Devil tell him how to be the Son of God. That is why He doesn’t let His disciples tell Him His agenda in helping a Canaanite woman, or give a sign to impress the crowds, or let the crowds who ate all the fish and bread grab Him and make Him king.
It is true that through Jesus Christ God the Father gives us our daily bread. He gives us all that we need for this body and life. That’s what we ask for in the Our Father. But that is only bread for THIS life. Jesus comes to give you eternal life.
St. John points out that the Feeding of the 5000 takes place near the Passover. What happened at Passover? The Lamb is killed and its blood protected the people of Israel from the Angel of Death. It is no coincidence that John mentions the Passover here because Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! It is Jesus upon whom all of your sins are laid. It is Jesus who is sacrificed on the cross to take your place and protect you from God’s wrath. It is Jesus whose blood protects you from the avenging Angel of Death who kills the enemies of God.
THIS is why Jesus came: not to do magic tricks and amazing things just for the heck of it; not to save you from long check out lines at Super Wal-Mart by giving you free groceries; not even to solve all of your earthly problems. No, dear friends, He came to save you from the eternal damnation your sins have earned for you. He came to take away your sins and make you the Father’s children once again by being your Savior. And no Devil or over-excited crowd is going to stop Him from doing that work that the Father has given Him to do.
Jesus DOES feed the people who need to eat. But that is a SIGN. It is not just a miracle that Jesus does to show that He can do miracles. If you read further in John 6 you hear Jesus tell you that He is the Bread of Life, that He gives His flesh for the life of the world. The SIGN of feeding the 5000 is to be read as pointing to Jesus as the Savior.
The Crowds blow it. They recognize that He is the Prophet who was to come after Moses; so far so good. But then they try to grab Jesus and make Him King. That was the wrong move! Their faith and trust in Jesus don’t go beyond their bellies. When Jesus gives them bread and fish, He is teaching them to look to Him and His Word and salvation. When the Lord gives the people manna in the wilderness, He is teaching them to trust in Him for their daily bread to be sure; but more than that, to trust that He is the one who can save them and bring them into the Promised Land. If the Lord can give a couple million people bread every day, is it too hard for Him to keep their enemies away and bring them to the Promised Land? If Jesus can feed 5000 people with a few loaves and a couple of fish, is it too hard for Him to take away the sins of the world?
This, then, is your repentance, dear Christians: that you seek some other kind of Jesus than He is. Maybe you want the Jesus who will make sure you have lots of money, or lots of friends, or a good marriage, or protect you from disease or heal you when you’re sick. Maybe you want the Jesus who keeps you from being lonely. And these are all good things to pray for! This is what is meant by “daily bread!” But that’s not ONLY what Jesus gives you.
If your faith and trust in Christ are only for some little thing in this life like a full stomach or a smile on your face, then repent! Repent and learn your need to be saved from everlasting death. Repent and hear the Good News that that’s exactly what Jesus has accomplished for you: salvation from sin and death and the devil and hell and most of all pulled you out from under God’s terrible wrath!
John tells us it was near the Passover. That was the night the Lamb died. His blood was put on the doors. But there was more to the Passover than just killing the Lamb. The Lamb was also eaten! No wonder the Lamb of God feeds the 5000 and then teaches them that His flesh and blood are real food and drink!
What is it that teaches us that Jesus is more than a Bread King? What is it that gives to us more than just a snack for our stomachs? It is the Supper of Christ! Just as the font reminds you of your Baptism in which you are made God’s children, and just as absolution proclaims into your ears what Jesus has done for you, so the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood delivers and gives you the crucified and risen Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
For the children of Israel, the Passover was the big festival they celebrated every year. For us it is every time we gather – the true Passover, where we feast on the flesh and blood of the Lamb of God. In this holy meal, Jesus comes to us, feeds us, lives in us, forgives us, prepares us for death, and prepares us for everlasting life. When we come to this holy supper, St. Paul says we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” again (I Cor.11:26). When you eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus, it is all the reminder of what kind of a Savior Jesus is: He’s the Lamb who is sacrificed for our sins.
Pay attention to Jesus’ words instituting the Sacrament and you will see what kind of Savior He is. Pay attention to what He says and what He gives and you will always know for certain that your sins are forgiven and that you are no longer under God’s wrath.
Come and feast on Jesus’ flesh and blood because that is the true bread. Don’t worry about your daily bread; that’s all covered. Hunger and thirst for the body and blood of Jesus which is the most important gift, the holiest food, the promise of forgiveness, life and salvation.
But beware! What happened when the crowd wanted to make Jesus king? He went away from them. Jesus does His works. He shows His signs. But if people refuse to trust in Him as their Savior, He won’t let them have Him some other way. If all they want is free fish sandwiches, then He’s not going to hang around. If all they want are “signs and wonders” to see how much power He has, then He’ll leave.
If you come to His table and receive His body and blood only to deny who He is and what He gives and does, then beware, for He will depart from you, too! If you come to receive Jesus NOT because you are damned without His flesh and blood; if you come to receive Jesus as if you have no sins He needs to get rid of; if you eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood and have no desire to be saved from your sin, then repent.
Learn and believe what your sins deserve; learn and believe what price Christ pays to blot them out. Learn that His holy supper is no mere ritual or religious gimmick. It’s not just “something you do.” It is the holy and saving meal in which He gives you what was accomplished at the cross: forgiveness and eternal life. That’s exactly the kind of Jesus He is: the one who saves you from your sins.
The devil and the world don’t know what kind of Jesus He is, and they want Him to be a Jesus other than the kind He came to be. They have no interest in the Son of God who saves you from your sins; they are only interested in the “nice guy” that everyone can agree to like, the Jesus who does tricks and puts on shows.
Not you, dear Christian. You know better. You have the example of the Children of Israel and the words of Jesus to rescue you from such thinking.
And you have the Holy Supper in which Jesus gives His very own true body and blood into your mouth. Not to impress you, not to make you feel good, not to make you seem religious. But for this reason only: to save you from your sins and make sure that you have eternal life.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.