Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sermon for 3/6/16: Lent IV

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The Lord Will Provide

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

Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Maybe Philip should have echoed Abraham: “The Lord will provide.” Or maybe with St. John he could have answered, “Sir, you know.” Or perhaps Phillip should have just reverted to the standard Sunday School answer. When the teacher asks a question, children answer, “Jesus!” Any of those answers would work. After all, Jesus provided what the disciples couldn’t buy, what they couldn’t grow, what they had not earned or deserved, and more than they could contain. Their baskets overflowed. 
Phillip and Andrew failed the test, but it didn’t matter. They failed because they were sinners, focused on themselves, blinded by the desires of their bodies. They could not see or hear or think. But Jesus came to seek and to save sinners. He declared them to be holy, to be His saints, to have His innocence and righteousness. He even made them Apostles. The answer they couldn't provide, the miracle they couldn’t imagine, was provided for them. Like the crowd, they also ate and were full. They were forgiven for their weak faith and made citizens of a Kingdom where man does not live by bread alone. 
Our problem is that we are so infected with sin, so obsessed with the mundane reality and details of our daily lives, that we forget that it is God who provides. We add up our debts: our mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and car payments. We add the cost of the stuff we think we want: automobiles, college educations, a vacation home, a new kitchen, and several large gifts to our favorite charities. We add something for our future, for the leisure of our retirement. And the total is astronomical. It is far greater than 200 day’s wages; that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We pay more than that in interest. What will we do? Where we will obtain it? The stock market is uncertain. The lottery is a lie. 20 years worth of bread wouldn’t be sufficient! Repent. Your mind is on the things of this world, which means your minds are on the wrong things.
“The Lord will provide.” “Sir, you know.” “Jesus!” Those are the answers to life’s troubles and worries. You have no money? Come, buy and eat, as Isaiah writes: “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” As impossible as it was for 5,000 men to sit down on the mountainside and be fed with just two fish and five loaves of bread, so that there were twelve baskets of leftovers, it happened. It was even less possible that one Man should die for the many; that God should love those who hate Him; that He should send His Son to give His life for those who killed Him. But it happened, and that holy Sacrifice still pays the price for our sin. 
Imagine if we caught the leader of ISIS and his top two Lieutenants. Would it be okay if the leader died for all three? If he, the leader, paid their price, could they go free? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. They are all accountable and responsible for their own actions. But how much worse would it be if we took your firstborn child and had that child die for the leader of ISIS and his Lieutenants, and then those people came to dinner at your house and slept in your child’s empty bed? That is similar to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t sound reasonable to the reason of men. It is mercy and compassion beyond our understanding or ability. The Father has sacrificed His Son. He has purchased us with blood. We are worried about which shoes match which belt, who has the nicest lawn, or which of the unappealing choices for President we will end up electing. Jesus says, “Sit down. I’ll take care of it.” He doesn’t explain or argue. He does not rebuke Phillip. He just tells the disciples to have the people sit down. Then He passes out bread and fish, as much as they want. And when they are filled, the disciples gather up the fragments. Each of the twelve fills his basket with leftovers. The Lord saw the need better than they did, and they could not contain the bounty. 
He does the same for you. He knows better than you what you need. You say, “I can’t pay my bills.” He says, “Take, eat, this is My Body.” You say, “My spouse is angry with me.” He says, “I forgive you all your sins.” He is the Prophet come into the world, the King who rules by grace, who makes His people saints by the power of His Word, who provides for all your needs of body and soul. He knows what you need. He will give you all things. He loves you; He died and rose for you; He is coming back. So rejoice with Jerusalem. Rejoice to be here in the house of the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord who gives you daily bread and the Living Bread which will never run out. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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