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Where Are We to Buy Bread?

John 6:1-15

Rev. Kurt Hering

Laetare: Fourth Sundau in Lent
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Mar 30, 2014 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

In this lesson, we see that the kingdom of heaven which Jesus is always bringing to earth and opening up for believers, is about our flesh and blood bodies now, just as well as it is about spiritual things and an eternity that begins sometime after our death. The kingdom of heaven is not some haloed, cloud-hopping karaoke party in the sky—or in the pews.

It is where our Father in heaven gives us our daily bread without fail—for our bodies as well as our souls. It is where God lives and where everything, not just bread, proceeds from the mouth of the Lord and is provided by His Word, and Him made flesh in Jesus.

So Jesus answers the question by demonstrating in flesh and blood, that “Where Are We to Buy Bread?” is the wrong question. Ultimately, daily bread—whether for body or soul, flesh or spirit—is from the Lord alone.

To hear the entire sermon preached for Laetare, "Where Are We to Buy Bread?" click on the MP3 audio link provided above.

The audio begins with the Old Testament Reading, Exodus 16:-21. The sermon begins at the 14:08 point of the mp3 file.

A servant of the Word and His folk,

Pastor Hering

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.

Nota bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Some points from the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

TEXT: 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. John 6:1–6

Dear Baptized,

Where Are We to Buy Bread?

What a loaded question. You can almost see the twinkle in Jesus’ eye—or the look and tone of feigned anxiety.

“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him [and the disciples], for he himself knew what he would do.

According to Matthew, Mark, & Luke, the disciples answer: “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:35-37

7Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” John 6

The disciples fail the test—giving Jesus the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson, increasing faith and preparing them for that which He soon will send them out to do.

He is still testing his disciples—His followers, whether in the large sense of those gathered to hear, or in the small sense of the office of the ministry.

Most of us have at least pondered this question, if not been severely troubled by it.

• Planning for retirement

• Starting a family

• Disability

• Facing unemployment

• It is all too often on my mind these days

Jesus answers the question in our Laetare Gospel text today with what we usually explain as a miracle. But, in reality, what Jesus is showing His disciples, the crowd, and us, is bread is not a matter of buying, so much as it is about His supplying.

And so we began our ascent to the gates of heaven and into the presence of our Lord and His table where He feeds us with bread of Life and His very body and blood, singing:

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be | glad for her,*

all you who | love her;

that you may nurse and be | satisfied*

from her con- | soling breast.

I was glad when they | said to me,*

“Let us go to the house | of the LORD!”

Isaiah goes on:

that you may drink deeply with delight

from her glorious abundance.” 66:11

The prophet of our Lord is speaking of God’s city of peace and likens it to the place where one finds His house and His bride for nurture and protection.

The prophet is speaking of the kingdom of heaven. But He is also speaking of Christ’s church—His bride and the mother of the household of His kingdom here on earth. And, of course, in our text, Jesus is also giving a lesson about the kingdom of heaven—a living lesson, not just an object lesson, but a flesh and blood real time lesson.

In this lesson, we see that the kingdom of heaven which Jesus is always bringing to earth and opening up for believers, is about our flesh and blood bodies now, just as well as it is about spiritual things and an eternity that begins sometime after our death. The kingdom of heaven is not some haloed, cloud-hopping karaoke party in the sky—or in the pews.

It is where our Father in heaven gives us our daily bread without fail—for our bodies as well as our souls. It is where God lives and where everything, not just bread, proceeds from the mouth of the Lord and is provided by His Word, and Him made flesh in Jesus.

So Jesus answers the question by demonstrating in flesh and blood, that “Where Are We to Buy Bread?” is the wrong question. Ultimately, daily bread—whether for body or soul, flesh or spirit—is from the Lord alone.

But we also see, He gives both earthly and heavenly food through means and instruments of His choosing, His speaking forth into existence, and His sending out into the world. 

• Farmers, processors, grocers, households for building up our earthly bodies to give to us that which proceeds from His Word since the third day when our Father in heaven said: “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” Genesis 1:11;

• the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-12

“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:16

Whereas John’s Gospel simply says,

Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. 

All three other Gospels also render an account of this same miraculous feeding, with words similar to those of Luke 9:16. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.

Notice the Sacramental, church and ministry, means of grace language. Scriptural critics and spiritual naysayers would have us believe John’s account either proves the unreliability of the Bible or shows it’s always simply about your or me and Jesus.

But taken within the entire account of Scripture as that which speaks of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God, John (whose Gospel is generally acknowledged as being that last written) is clearly indicating that what is given by His disciples and ministers of the Word, and what is received from them, is indeed given by and received from the hand of Jesus Himself.

Whether

• manna sent as dew from heaven;

• a loaf of bread baked at home or bought at the grocery store;

• the wafer of Holy Communion as well as the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation it carries hidden in and with the body and blood of Christ;

it all comes from the very mouth of God by the hands He has chosen and created and dedicated to deliver them to you.

“Where Are We to Buy Bread?”

You don’t buy it silly. It comes from God—always has and always will.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-32

So, as Jesus continues later on in John 6: “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 … “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst… For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:26-40

So, here, finally Jesus answers His own question much like a child would answer.  “Where Are We to Buy Bread?” You don’t buy it, Silly. It comes from God.

And God gives it to His ministers of the Word, who got it from His Apostles, to give the people gathered by His Holy Spirit around His Son something to eat.

Smalcald Part III, Article XII. Of the Church.

2] For, thank God, [to-day] a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy [catholic or] Christian and apostolic Church.  Because there He is always distributing the Bread of Life to the people of His kingdom and the children of His Bride to strengthen and preserve them in body and soul--in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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