Monthly Archives: March 2015

Dr. William C. Weinrich Puts It All Together

Jesus is true God in that He is the Giver of life and of all good things. Jesus is true man in that He thankfully receives God’s gifts and in perfect trust lives a sinless, obedient life. This is the divine design.

As true man Jesus is the image of our hope, for He is what we shall become. Jesus is the new Adam, the One in whom God has again made mankind according to His image, the One in whom God has again made true man, man who lives from God alone, trusts God alone, and serves God alone.

We used the story of creation to help us see true God at work and true man at work. We saw that through the living God’s breathing life into Adam, Adam became himself a living being. In true man, God’s work becomes man’s work. God and man are in agreement; they are in communion with each other, united with each other. And so it is also in Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man. In the person of Jesus, God’s work once again becomes man’s work. Whereas once man cursed his neighbor, now the new Adam blesses his neighbor. Whereas once sinful man was selfish, now the new Adam gives charity freely and loves his neighbor as himself. Whereas sinful man once held grudges and got revenge, now the new Adam forgives his enemies.

The full Law of God, set in the heart of man at creation, now receives its complete and perfect fulfillment in Jesus. Christ did this for us who are sinners so that the penalty of sin, namely death, is not our final destiny, but that we might have eternal life in Him, who as the one great true man, and the new Adam, received life freely from God.

In Jesus, therefore, God renews this creation by making sinful man to become true man through the forgiveness of sins. In Jesus sinful man becomes true man, the image of God. Receiving his life from God, he “reflects” the holiness and righteousness of God in a holy and righteous life. (1 Peter 2:15-16; Romans 8:1-4)

One further point must be made clear. When the apostle John saw the new heaven and the new earth, he saw the community God’s faithful people shall have with Him. This communion with God shall be forever and ever (Revelation 22:5). John’s Gospel promises that whoever believes in Christ shall receive eternal life (John 3:15-16). Our redemption in Christ shall never come to an end. In Christ, God’s good purposes for mankind will never be subject to temptation, decay, and death.

In Christ, God put His creation on a new and more solid foundation. In Christ, God united Himself with man in an inseparable and indivisible way, so that into all eternity man will be with God, receiving all good things, especially life and immortality.

Wherein does this new solidity and permanence for the future of man’s communion with God lie? It lies in this: In Christ Jesus, God Himself became man. The eternal Word of God (the Second person of the Trinity) took to Himself all that man is, and without ceasing to be true God made in Himself the start of a new creation wherein fallen, sinful, and mortal mankind becomes righteous, holy, and immortal. Since in Christ God has become man, in Christ man will be without sin and not be subject to eternal death. In Christ – the new Adam – man will never again act apart from God.

“God Words”, pages 107-108

WCW

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Sixth Sunday in Lent, Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-9

The triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem is read twice in the church year. It is read on the First Sunday in Advent and again on Palm Sunday as we begin Holy Week. When heard in Advent, the reading has a general relationship to the arrival of the Lord in the past, right now, and in future judgment. When heard today it has a special relationship to the suffering and death of our Lord.

This reading is vitally important in setting the stage for what happens from now until next Sunday. This reading’s second appearance is also odd because the Lord, while He otherwise carefully avoided all royal honors, has no problem receiving royal honors from the crowd. Why did Jesus have a royal entry when He set Himself toward His passion in Jerusalem?

Jesus wanted to express Himself as the promised King of Israel and as Lord. No longer does He hide His divine attributes. He lets His omnipotence shine forth as He tells two of His disciples, Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. When the two disciples find the colt, some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.

See yourself in those standing there wondering what these two random men are doing untying a random colt. Their action looks like stealing. All it took was saying what Jesus told them. They let them go. The power of Christ’s Word breaks down barriers, even the barriers we put up to try to stop the Lord from giving His gifts among us. Then it was the gift of beginning His suffering and death. Now it is our reason, our senses, and everything that makes you believe Jesus could not do what He says He is able to do.

These things also try to block from your memory the words of Zechariah’s prophecy: Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt! You are afraid. Jesus has every opportunity to walk away from His work of redemption. He begs His Father to take the cup of suffering from Him. It was the Father’s will that His only-begotten Son suffers and dies this way for your sin. He could have sent countless angels to fight on His behalf. The sword is sheathed. There is no violence here. There are no angels ready to minister to Him as they did after His satanic temptations.

Jesus wanted to show His great willingness to suffer. When times of suffering come to you, you are allergic to what comes upon you. You know the blessed cross of affliction will come, and indeed now comes in many ways. The cross may be lifted. Then again, you may have to bear the cross for your entire life. Jesus saw what was coming. He never shirked from setting His face on Jerusalem. He told His disciples many times, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.

The disciples go with Jesus. They do not understand what will happen. In time, Jesus will open their minds to what is said in the Old and New Testaments concerning His death and resurrection. Looking back at what happened that week, the disciples could see why most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Now is the time for the Savior of Jew and Gentile to be recognized publicly and received by His people as their King. We are doubly blessed not only to hear His triumphal entry into Jerusalem today, but also to hear a portion of Saint Matthew’s account of the Passion of the Christ. Let there be no part-time Christians this week, dearly beloved. We also should join with the disciples and accompany Him in His Passion. Jesus is our King and our Lord. Willingly He took upon Himself great love for our sake. As we sing in the marvelous hymn, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth”: Goes patient on, grows weak and faint,/ To slaughter led without complaint,/ That spotless life to offer,/ He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies,/ The mockery, and yet replies,/ “All this I gladly suffer.”

“All this I gladly suffer.” Rare is the occasion that you would suffer anything for even your closest friend, let alone your closest family member or even your spouse. Our first instinct in suffering, even considering Jesus’ suffering, is to look away and wish it would not have happened. We ignore His suffering for our sake. We ignore our own suffering and surrender to it rather than fight it. Jesus never surrendered. He went through the whole miserable business without one word of complaint. He did all this willingly. He did it gladly, for your sake.

We walk behind the royal banners that forward go this week to the cross, through the tomb, into hell, out of the tomb, and into the world. The sacrifice is complete. The atonement is made sure in the resurrection. You shall not die. You live because Jesus dies and lives for you. No wonder our Savior does not shirk a royal entrance into Jerusalem. He is the King of the Jews. He is truly the Son of God.

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Fifth Sunday in Lent – John 8:46-59

Pontius Pilate later asked the question, but the Jews pursue it before he asks it. They want to know “what is truth,” at least the truth known in abiding in Jesus’ word. So we have two different understandings of truth among both parties. Jesus’ truth is abiding in His word, especially the word of freedom from sin and death in His all-availing sacrifice upon the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead. If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

The Jews cling to their heritage and their blood line. Buried under genealogy and traditions of the elders drawn from God’s holy Law is the truth Jesus proclaims as the Prophet Who is to come into the world. Sad to say that the Jews can’t see the truth because they have accepted a different truth that pushes God to the rear and puts themselves forward.

Everything would be just fine with the Jews if only Jesus would get out of the way and accept their truth as the only truth that avails before God. They have forgotten Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac and how God provided a substitute, a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. They have forgotten that the sacrifices made at the temple point toward the coming of the Great High Priest, Whose blood shed in the once-for-all sacrifice secures an eternal redemption. The Jews have forgotten their story.

We have forgotten our own story. We remember many events in our life. They make for great stories to pass down to future generation. When it comes to the one event that makes the difference between eternal life and eternal death, we forget it for other stories. We put our blood line ahead of the blood of Jesus Christ. I am saved because my parents went to church here and made sure I was baptized. I can do and say as I please because I’m fourth generation Lutheran. I say the Lord’s Prayer twice a day and love to sing my favorite hymn. Now and then I read the Catechism. I might even pick up the latest Christian best-seller just to keep in touch with what’s happening with God. That’s good enough for God because it’s good enough for me.

What is worse, we point to our good behavior and believe Jesus will understand how hard we try to be like Him. When we fail, there’s always tomorrow to try harder. When the string of days of trying harder and doing better add up to years of futility, you see that it’s easy to leave the Jesus thing behind and run away from Him. Better to have no God and be at ease than to work yourself to death trying to make Jesus smile by having some sense of purpose.

Jesus does not save you because He needs the ego stroke. I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Standing before Him claiming you never needed Him or that you could seek His glory in your own glory is a fool’s errand. The end of the errand is death. The end of the false gospel of “do better, try harder, be more nice or God will get you for it” is futility. Either you’ll hate God and run as far as possible from Him or you’ll work yourself to eternal death trusting in self-righteousness.

There is only One righteous man. He is Jesus Christ. His Word is sure. If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Christ’s word for you is that He alone has made peace with the Father on your behalf. Today’s epistle says Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

A death has occurred. Jesus’ own people made sure He was sent to the cross to die. Many wouldn’t believe it, but He died for their sin. He died for your sin. He died for the sins of the world. His death redeems you from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. His death redeems you from the curse of the Law. Try harder and do better is replaced with “Jesus Christ did it all for me.” He perfectly kept the Law. He dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”. He fulfilled the Law for me, in my place. I believe it to be so because the Scriptures tell me so. The preaching of the Gospel in God’s house tells me so. I have an eternal inheritance not because of my blood line or my last name. I have an eternal inheritance because Jesus’ word is my word. I trust Him above everything I see, feel, and know.

You see what father Abraham saw the same way he saw it. Abraham saw the Savior through the eyes of faith. So do you. You are grafted into the vine of righteousness with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the children of the heavenly Father, whether they are a Jew or a Gentile. They saw with the eyes of faith the coming of the Great High Priest, the Substitute, the Ram caught in a thicket of a crown of thorns Who willingly gave His life to spare your life.

The Lord will provide. He provides the Way into eternal life. He provides the Truth that sets you free. He provides Life that never ends. He washes you, feeds you, and proclaims to you that Christ’s blood covers you. You are an heir of eternity because Jesus wrote your name in the Book of Life with His own blood for ink. You are vindicated because the God Who saves is your refuge.

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I’m OK With It

Many people who do not know much about the congregation I serve ask, “How big is your congregation?” It’s a good question. You want to know how many people I serve. My usual answer is to tell the person the average attendance of a Divine Service. Sometimes I say “It’s a small congregation” and leave it there. Small is a relative number. When I tell someone the actual number, most say, “OK” and leave it there. Very few say, “WOW! That’s a small congregation!”

Then there may be those who wonder how they can help me make the congregation bigger. You know, we used to be a much larger congregation here. A lot of families moved away through the years. Some more have transferred to other congregations of our fellowship for one reason or another. Then there are those who quit attending church and don’t miss it…the “nones”, so called because they have no religious affiliation. There are many “nones”.

Thank you for your offer of help. Thank you for the “magic bullet” you are sure that will “work” to “get ’em back”. You are kind to offer it. But, you know what, I’m OK with it.

I’m OK with my small congregation. Why? The people who are here, the “survivors”, so to speak, want to be here. They were here long before me. Chances are either I will bury them as their pastor or they will be here when the congregation closes or when I might leave for another field of ministry. Small doesn’t necessarily mean “dying” or “dead” or “cold”. There is nothing wrong with a small congregation. Just because I serve a small congregation doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit has vacated the premises. In fact, there are advantages to serving a small congregation.

I know my flock well. I know their names. I know what they do for a living. I get to share a part of their life. Sometimes they even feed my family and me with a decent meal. People bewail the lack of “personal touch” in customer service these days. A small congregation offers the opportunity for “personal touch” because I can give time to people and circumstances that other pastors of larger congregations cannot give.

My congregation doesn’t need “fixing” to make it big. The people want to be here. Those who don’t want to be here, yes, we pray for them. We pray they return. If they don’t return, or if they end up elsewhere on Sunday morning, well, that’s their business. Jesus is still here, dishing out His Gifts, and using me as His errand boy to dish out the Gifts. Small is good. It’s the Lord’s business to provide numerical growth. If He does, in His time, praise Him! If He doesn’t provide numerical growth, praise Him! God knows why in both cases.

I’m OK with it. Really. Thanks for asking. You’re welcome to join us for Divine Service. That would be at least one more person this weekend. Why not join us? I’d love to see you here. More importantly, the Lord would love to see you here hearing His Good News for you.

Thanks to Rev. Hans Fiene of River of Life Church in Channahon, IL for indirectly inspiring this blog post with his sermon on the Feast of St. Joseph.

The Living Word as Kerygma

All four Gospels show by their construction and proportions that for them the death and resurrection were the central part of Christ’s ministry. It may, of course, be said that the New Testament as a whole is missionary writing, just as the Church is missionary. But in that case the liking for mechanical distinctions must give way, and the Christian life, both in its beginnings and its continuation, must be seen as life from the Word, as a continual returning to the one Gospel, to the Word about Christ. It is false intellectualism to separate those who belong to the Church from the missionary kerygma. That is considered possible only because of the idea in the background that once anyone has heard the Gospel he ought to go on gradually to something else. In fact the message of Christ’s death and resurrection has as its most prominent objective that we who hear it should die and rise again and, since our own will refuses to submit itself to this living process, the word about Christ is always new, unexpected and fresh even to the day of our death. To apply the one kerygma to all the situations of life, to “instruct” so that it conquers, overturns and builds up, certainly demands new formulae. There are marked differences even within the New Testament; the one kerygma is still there, however, in the midst of the differences, yes, even because of them. It is of the utmost importance that the New Testament’s unity does not consist in expressions that are repeated in unchanging words in book after book. The living breath of the kerygma is change. The moment that change departs, the deep unity of the message will have gone.

– Gustaf Wingren, “The Living Word”, page 18

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Protection from the Stones of the Enemy

But what ultimately was the end result of this disputation [in John chapter eight]? The Jews picked up rocks in order to hurl them at [Jesus]. However, Jesus hid Himself. He stepped into His invisible, diving glory; and, right in the middle of His enemies, He went out from the Temple.

That’s what frequently happens. If the enemies of divine truth are unable to accomplish anything more with their disputations, they grab the rocks. However, God the Lord knows how to hide and rescue His own. “For He covers me with His protection in evil times; He hides me secretly in His tent.” (Psalm 27:5) Just as no one was able to harm Christ prior to the designated time for His Passion sufferings, so also no one is able to harm in the least way one of Christ’s members prior to the arrival of their designated time of suffering. They sit under the umbrella of the Most High and under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). He hides them from the spitefulness of every person (Psalm 31:21).

The fact that Christ also escaped out of the Temple from the wrath and fury of the Jews was a prelude and prototypical portrayal that He wanted to depart from them with His divine teachings. However, since Christ departed from the Temple and His doctrine was no longer tolerated, there soon ensued the fact that the city and Temple were destroyed and the entire nation was rooted out. May God the Lord graciously guard us and our land from something like that, Amen.

– Johann Gerhard, Postil for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

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We Don’t Wanna Hear It!

If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (John 8:46-47 ESV)

This is a particularly severe judgment upon all those who despise God’s Word; everyone ought therefore be on guard against this sin and avoid it. But what happens? Despising the Word is such a prevalent evil everywhere in the world that no sin is more commonplace. God’s Word nowadays is despised by people in high and low places, in the secular and spiritual realms; peasant and burgher do not want to listen to it, and they run amok like wild beasts. We preach to them as best we can, but they don’t want to listen. Hence they are of the devil, and he will reward them, as he did the Jews and other scornful persons.

But listen to how the Jews answered Christ, the Lord, over this judgment, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48 ESV) In other words, Underneath you’re nothing but a mischievous rogue and a heathen; you are a deceiver and an apostle of the devil, because you do not teach correctly. It’s the same response we get at the hands of smart alecky peasants and burghers today when we reproach them for their shameful scorning of God’s Word. They begin to mock and say, You clowns ought to preach the gospel but instead you only want to scold us; you don’t teach as Christ’s apostles but like the devil himself. This is what we have to listen to. Yet why should we lament? This is what Christ himself experienced at the hands of his people, as he details at length in this Gospel lesson how they slandered him when, to the glory and praise of God alone, he preached for the sake of the people’s spiritual well-being. We can’t expect anything different.

– Martin Luther, Second House Postil for the Fifth Sunday in Lent (John 8:46-59)

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The Day Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn Let Me Have It

Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn fell asleep in Jesus this past Friday. As a graduate of the Missouri Synod’s “other” seminary (Ft. Wayne, IN), I did not have Dr. Feuerhahn as an instructor. I was privileged to sit in on one of his classes during a student government visit to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, in January of 2000.

There is one moment where our paths crossed when Dr. Feuerhahn showed me genuine pastoral care in both law and gospel.

I attended the 2007 Concordia Catechetical Academy conference. Dr. Feuerhahn was one of the speakers. My father-in-law joined me for the conference since he lived down I-94 from where the conference was held. During the panel discussion I wanted to show my father-in-law, as well as everyone in the room, just how “confessional” I was. I made some rather angry statements about the state of being a confessional Lutheran in the Missouri Synod. It was not one of my finest hours.

Dr. Feuerhahn took the microphone and proceeded, in a pastoral way, to preach the law to me. It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life…and it was very public. I should not have lost my temper and showed off in front of lay people. He reminded me of that in no uncertain terms. I apologized for my behavior and he forgave me.

After the panel discussion, Dr. Feuerhahn asked over the microphone to speak to me privately. I went to the dais and spoke with him. He told me why he said what he said. It was important for a pastor not to lose his temper in front of lay people. He also asked me about my congregation in Momence (I had been installed here about three months prior). His dear friend (and mine) Scott Bruzek was pastor here in the mid-1990s. Dr. Feuerhahn served as liturgist that day in August of 1993 when Pastor Bruzek was ordained and installed here. He then spoke kindly to me and gave me encouragement. The mists of time have shrouded exactly what was said.

The last time I saw Dr. Feuerhahn was at my friend Jacob Ehrhard’s installation at Trinity Church in New Haven, Missouri in the summer of 2013. Though Parkinson’s Disease had ravaged his body, his mind remained sharp. He vested for the installation and even stood up to say a word of blessing that day.

I’ve written elsewhere about the time some friends of mine and I imposed ourselves on his seminary home for sherry, snacks, and conversation. I’ll let that story go for now. Needless to say I cherish his signature in the copy of his festschrift that sits on my study shelf.

May he rest in peace…and he does.

Feuerhahn

Stöckhardt and the Simul

We are told [in Article Six of the Formula of Concord] that Christians still stand in need of the punishments of the Law as well as of other punishments and plagues for this reason, “that they be aroused and follow the Spirit of God.” This is not to be understood as though the threatening and punishment of the Law were in itself an encouragement and, therefore, an inducement to obedience. No, a regenerate person nevermore does anything good by constraint of the Law. However, the Law with its teaching, warning, threatening, does indeed make room for the Gospel and prepares the way for it also where the conduct of the Christians is concerned. The Law reminds the Christian of his continual, daily sinning, disquiets him and becomes an occasion for him to seek with new zeal after righteousness and holiness. That willingness and that joyousness to obedience, which, of course, proceed alone from the Gospel, begin in the heart filled with anxiety because of inherent weakness.

But now we are chiefly interested in that part of the quotation from our Confession when it speaks of “the teaching of the Law.” Is it really so that believers need the doctrine of the Law for their good works, being unable to find the right way and erring in darkness without such doctrine? True, the Law is “a rule and standard of a godly life.” However, our Confession clearly teaches that believers “because of the Old Adam, which still clings to them,” and “because they are not renewed in this life perfectly or completely,” still need “the doctrine of the Law.” It teaches that if in their nature they were entirely free from sin, they would need absolutely no Law, that they would without any instruction of the Law do what they are in duty bound to do according to God’s will. Hence the Law is rule and standard for the walk of the regenerate in so far as they have not been born again, in so far as they still have flesh and are flesh. A Christian, in so far as he is born again, is driven by the Holy Ghost, whom be has received in the Gospel. Therefore he does willingly without coercion, of his free will, what is pleasing to God just as the sun, moon, and all the constellations of heaven of themselves gleam and, unobstructed, complete their regular course. Thus the good works of the Christians are fruits of the Spirit, fruits which grow of themselves. But the Spirit of God, who governs the children of God in what they do or do not do, certainly knows of Himself the good and gracious will of God and needs no teaching, no instruction. He guides and directs and drives according to His mind and will, and that is God’s mind and will, and thus leads us into the land of uprightness and teaches us to do according to God’s good pleasure. He is the Spirit of prayer, a Spirit of joy and gentleness, a Spirit of correction and fear of the Lord. A Christian therefore, in so far as he is a temple of the Holy Ghost, in so far as the Spirit of God has gained room within him, walks in paths of uprightness, lives in the Law, the will of God, knows, desires, and does what God wants “without any teaching of the Law.” But in so far as he still has the Old Adam, he is still subject to the error of sin and therefore often has the wrong conception of what he owes God and man, and loves to choose his own ways and works, his own manner of serving God. For this reason he still needs “the written Law,” the teaching of the Law, in order that he does not serve God according to his “own thoughts,” as our Confession notes. The Law exposes and condemns all self-chosen and self-devised holiness and piety. So the Law ever observes its prescribed course, even when it serves the Christians as rule and standard of their walk and life. Here too that expression of Scripture, the Law was given because of sin, remains perfectly lawful.

“Law and Gospel According to Their Several Effects”, trans. Rev. W.H. Bouman

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Fourth Sunday in Lent – John 6:1-15

The past three weeks have focused on the battle between good and evil. Jesus conquers Satan’s temptations in the wilderness with three words, it is written. A Canaanite woman holds her ground when it seems Jesus wants nothing to do with her and her daughter’s demon possession. Jesus heals a mute man possessed with a demon and talks about the battle between the strong man of Satan and the Stronger Man, Himself.

There is a battle of good and evil in the feeding of 5,000 men, but it is not as obvious as it has been the past three weeks. In fact, today might be considered an oasis of refreshment in the middle of Lent. There is a battle still going on and business is about to pick up when it comes to Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. However, today there is an island of joy in the middle of sorrow. Jesus provides food for 5,000 men, even when finding food seems a hopeless endeavor.

Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat? A large crowd approaches Jesus on a mountain side. They saw the signs that He was doing on the sick. Perhaps more signs were coming. Perhaps Jesus will preach and teach as well. Right now the task at hand is to find food for at least 5,000 people.

He Himself knew what He would do. Then why doesn’t Jesus let the disciples in on His plan? Jesus is testing them, especially Philip and Andrew, who receive special mention here. Philip’s response, two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little, is not so much an answer as a cry for help. Jesus is able to help, but Philip wonders about how much it is going to cost to feed them. The Provider is right there, but Philip isn’t paying any attention to Him.

We have a lot of Philip in us. We’re quick to thank God for what we have, but when there is something we don’t have, we forget to ask the One Who provides all things, both earthly and spiritually, for us. Off we go into the marketplace looking for a way to get what we want. We don’t think for a moment whether that item is good for us. We need it. We need it now. When we have it, we give ourselves a pat on the back for how industrious we are for getting what we need so quickly. The cost may be prohibitive, but who cares! You have what you want and you took God along for the ride in order to make sure you got it.

The daily staples never get that sort of attention, especially when you are without them for some time. God gets the first fist shake when you don’t have them. He knows better than to let you go without what you really need. Now, all of a sudden, the stuff you had to have sure looks like nothing compared to what is necessary.

There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many? You have little and, like Andrew, you think there’s no way Jesus could do something big with something little. What are five loaves and two fish among 5,000 men? What’s forgiveness and life when you have sin and death hanging over your head?

Jesus does something big with something little. If that wasn’t enough, John adds five words that put us to shame: as much as they wanted. Everyone received something, but they also received more than something. They received as much as they wanted. No one is hungry, yet no one is underfed or overfed. Jesus satisfies every man’s hunger with exactly what they want.

There’s the note of joy in today’s Holy Gospel. When you trust in the Lord to provide everything you need, you will have exactly what you need, no more and no less. Yes, God blesses some with more and others with less. It would be nice if everyone would be able to afford a Mercedes-Benz automobile. It would also be nice if everyone wouldn’t have to deal with expensive repairs on that model of automobile as well. It would be nice if everyone had merely bread and water for every meal. It would also be nice to have varying food stuffs to eat at each meal so you don’t grow bored with the same thing for every meal.

That’s where the providence of God comes into play. He knows what you need before you ask it, just as He knew what 5,000 men needed in the middle of nowhere. There may come a time when you go without something. That time rips away your need for idols in order to show you what is necessary. You have what God sees is necessary for you. Granted it’s not going to fulfill your wish list of nice things you think you should have, but you will have exactly what God provides for you, whether it is food, drink, clothing, shelter, house, home, or any other physical need.

The Lord God also provides everything for your spiritual needs as well. He sends His only-begotten Son into this world as a man in order to live the perfect life in your place. His perfect life, perfect death, and perfect resurrection are your gift, given by a giving God to a needy people. Your debt is cancelled. Your sin is paid for with the blood of Jesus. You are free. You live because Jesus lives. That’s the one thing needful in this life. Everything else is an extra helping of God’s goodness for you.

This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world! Jesus is the One Who provides every good thing for you, whether it’s eternal life or a breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup. He longs to hear you ask Him for what you need. He gives you what you need in His good time. The Bread of Life provides food for life, both for the stomach and for the eyes, even to life everlasting.

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