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Bread from heaven, material and spiritual

John 6:1-15

Pastor David Ernst

Fourth Sunday in Lent
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Mar 14, 2021 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The story of the feeding of five thousand appears in all four gospels. Saint John does not tell the story of the temptation of Jesus, but the first trap of the devil for Jesus is reflected in our text for today. Satan challenged Jesus to turn stones into bread to prove his divine authority. Jesus rejects the temptation with the declaration that he has come to feed his people with spiritual bread, which is the Word of God.

John speaks of signs that reveal the glory of Jesus and who he is. For Juan, the signs were amazing acts whose importance goes beyond that of the facts themselves. Signs strengthen the faith of believers but harden unbelievers in their rejection. In our text, Jesus was at the zenith of his ministry in Galilee, but from this point on, his rejection became more intense. This happened just one year before the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Only John of the four evangelists gives the motive that prompted the crowd to rush along the north shore of the Sea of Galilee to catch up with Jesus. They were fascinated by the signs from him. Jesus offered them the spiritual bread. But, the five thousand forgot to bring the material bread. However, God provided the material bread they needed.

“When Jesus raised his eyes, and saw a large crowd that had come to him, he said to Philip: Where can we buy bread for these to eat? But this he said to test him; for He knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, Two hundred denarii of bread would not be enough for each of them to take a little."

A denarius was equal to a day's wages. Two hundred was the salary of more than seven months. Perhaps this amount of money was roughly what their treasury contained at the time. Jesus wanted to strengthen the faith of his disciples when faced with an impossible situation.

In our reading of the Old Testament (Exodus 16: 2-21), God answered the people's complaints through Moses. Just as God had miraculously given them manna in the desert after the Exodus, so too Jesus miraculously gave this multitude food. “And Jesus took the loaves, having given thanks, distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were reclining; and also the fish, as much as they wanted. "

However, John had previously mentioned Jesus' distrust of a faith that subsists only on signs. In this kind of faith there is room for the selfish will of man. Faith that is nourished by signs is an appetite that grows on the basis of what nourishes it; he cannot settle for a single sign that is given, but asks for another.

And so it was with the feeding of five thousand. “Then those men, when they saw the miracle that Jesus had done, said: Truly this is the Prophet who was to come into the world. And Jesus perceiving that they were to come to take him by force and make him king, he again withdrew to the mountain by himself. "

They remembered Moses' prophecy in Deuteronomy 13, but did not understand it. As in the direct temptation of him by the devil, Jesus rejected the opportunity to establish an earthly kingdom based on the abundance of bread. The multiplication of the loaves, apart from being a demonstration of the power of Jesus and his compassion for man and his needs, points to something else. Jesus in his person is the true bread from heaven. His body and blood were sacrificed for the sins of the world. In the sacrament that, before dying, Jesus instituted in memory of his death and as a means of grace, everyone who eats this flesh and drinks this blood has the promise of eternal life and will rise again on the last day.

Saint Luke says this about the early Christians in Acts 2: 41-47, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." In the sacrament, the true body and true blood of the Lord are in, under and with the bread and wine, the visible elements. In 1 Corinthians 10, Saint Paul says the sacrament is our manna in the desert.

Our Lord taught us to pray for our daily bread, and this means material bread. We trust God for all of our needs and we thank Him for them. But, above all it is the spiritual bread in the Word and the sacraments.

The peace that passes all understanding be with you. Amen.

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