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Food in the desert

John 6:1-15

Pastor David Ernst

Lent 4, series C
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Mar 27, 2022 

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

The feeding of the five thousand reminds us of how Moses fed the multitudes in the desert with manna from heaven. In the book of Exodus a large crowd followed Moses because they saw the signs he did against Pharaoh. But despite the miracles that God performed through Moses and his brother Aaron, the people murmured against God and against Moses, the first of many occasions. Their complaints were directed against both of them, and therefore against the divine act of bringing them out of Egypt. The persons of Moses and Aaron did not count for anything; they were involved only as ambassadors of JehovŠ; the people should have realized that their complaint was directed against God.

The Lord intended to test his faith and obedience in connection with this miraculous gift of bread. They would be given a definitive proof of his omnipotent power and majesty, of his glorious presence. By God's miraculous arrangement, the amounts collected were sufficient for each family and for the entire town. The Lord established simple rules about when and how to collect the bread to test the confidence of the people in their daily care. From day to day they were to trust God's promise.

In John 6, a large crowd follows Jesus because they saw the signs he was doing. The synoptic gospels also tell us about the end of the day when the concerned disciples ask Jesus to send the 5,000 away. The faith of the disciples and the people is put to the test. But, they all fail. The disciples looked only at the monetary resources at their disposal, but not at the providence of the heavenly Father.

And after the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the prophet that is to come into the world." This was a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15, when Moses declared: ďA prophet from among you, from your brothers, like me, the Lord your God will raise you up; you will hear him." However, although they used the correct terms, their interpretation was false. They thought it was the beginning of a reign of earthly plenty.

Neither the crowd that followed Moses nor the crowd that followed Jesus completely trusted the Word of God. But remember our gospel for the first Sunday in Lent, Matthew 4:1-11. Immediately after his baptism, the Holy Spirit had led Jesus into a desert where there was no food for 40 days and 40 nights. The action of the Holy Spirit means that God's eternal plan required that the Savior be tempted and that He triumph. Through Adam, sin and death passed to all human beings. Through Christ justice was truly achieved for all human beings. Not only Adam, Jesus also endured the test that the people of Israel had not met during 40 years in the desert.

Jesus was tempted by Satan to set himself up as king of this world. In John 6:1-15, Jesus rejected the same temptation through human agents of Satan. Jesus passed the test. He, as the object of our faith, has enough power to accomplish everything.

Alone in the desert, Jesus did not turn stones into bread to satisfy his own appetite. But, he multiplied the loaves and fishes because of his compassion for the multitude and his material needs. In the process, he showed the power of him as the Son of God.

However, as Jesus told Satan, ""It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Furthermore, St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 says that the Israelites ate not only material bread and water, but also spiritual food and drink.

This supper in the desert in the desert is a preview of the Holy Supper that Jesus instituted on Holy Thursday. He took bread and having given thanks, he gives it to the twelve to distribute to the people. In the sacrament, Jesus feeds us in the desert of this world to refresh and strengthen us, so that we can arrive with him in the heavenly Jerusalem of which our epistle speaks (Galatians 4:21-31). In each celebration of the sacrament, the faithful anticipate the celebration in the true and eternal temple.

Lord, we come now to your invitation to the heavenly banquet that you have prepared for your children on earth. You are the true bread from heaven in the desert. We trust in you for our material and spiritual needs.

May the peace that passes all understanding be with you. Amen.

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