Printed Sermon on John 6:1-15 Jesus Feeds of the 5,000
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me read the text as written in John chapter 6 again: 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?” 6 Jesus said this to test Philip, for Jesus Himself knew what He would do. 7Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Jesus, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11Jesus then took the loaves, and when Jesus had given thanks, Jesus distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12And when they had eaten their fill, Jesus told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14When the people saw the miracle that Jesus had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
Let us pray: Bread of Heaven, You richly feed all who follow You. This includes not only the pious, but the weak as well. Heighten my awareness of Your concern for me, and for all people, as shown in the miracles You perform and as heard in the message of Your goodness. Sometimes I’m embarrassed I have so little to give to advance Your purposes through the Church. Assure me that nothing I offer is too small or insignificant for You to bless and to increase for the benefit of others. Teach me to put my daily bread to use by not letting Your blessings go to waste. There will always be great needs and yet Your provision is sure; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Feeding of the Five Thousand is a text, like all the written Holy Scriptures, shows our ears how to grow in faith toward God and to grow in fervent love toward our neighbors. Faith and Love.
First faith toward God. Jesus teaches you not be overanxious about your daily bread. Do not be overanxious about the size of your paycheck or the size of you monthly bills. Jesus already sees next month. And He is testing you, "Where are we to buy bread so these people may eat?" Jesus already knows what He is going to do. Or, "Where are we to earn enough to pay these bills?" Jesus already know what He is going to do, so don't be lazy or overanxious about the problem, rather repent of you misuse of His daily blessing that got you into this trouble and trust Jesus. Or, "How will I ever be ready for retirement?" Jesus already knows what He is going to do, so don't be either lazy or overanxious about the problem, but repent and look to Jesus. He remains kind and friendly toward you. Jesus is the generous one.
Contentment is the opposite of our anxiety. Trust Jesus to give you contentment according to your new nature while repenting of your anxiety. For in this instance, no trust in Jesus leads to anxiety or a trusting in yourself to get through the daily problems. That anxiety is not just an emotion. That anxiety, caused by a lack of trust in Jesus, is sin. Repent of the anxiety itself. Turn away from yourself and toward Jesus.
Jesus is the generous One. He feeds all the people until all the people had their fill. Some people in the crowd follow Jesus because they heard the Gospel and saw the miracles. The Gospel and the miracles gave them to trust Christ. Others in the crowd follow Jesus not because of the Gospel but because the miracles took away their hunger and they wanted more to eat. They saw publicity and honor in following Jesus too and that was to their benefit. They were part of the "in" crowd while Jesus was still considered the "it" guy. Jesus even fed this group.
Jesus is the generous One. He sees the untrusting nature of His disciples. Philip brings his reason and intelligence to the problem. Well, Jesus, "The cost is so high to feed these people that a rich man could only give each one a little. And they would still be hungry. Andrew speaks like a foolish child even saying, "I found a boy with some bread and fish, but how could that feed so many."
Jesus sees our untrusting nature as well. He see that you worry about monthly bills, you worry about this building, you worry about local evangelism.
And yet, what I see is a faithful God serving you His people. In a few weeks five faithful young men and women will be confirmed in God's Word and receive the miracle Christ's Body and Blood. Every week, I see young and old faithfully receiving the same. Last week, we heard that our own Johnny Fry is expecting a boy in August. And that young man won't be very old when he hears the Gospel and receives the miracle of Holy Baptism. All this just as the 5,000 heard the Gospel and received the miracles Jesus was giving to them.
This is the lesson of faith. You follow Jesus because you trust Him to both save you from your untrusting nature and also give you all your daily bread. The lesson of faith says, 'Do not be overanxiou about daily bread. Rather, turn to Jesus for He already knows what He is going to do.'
That is the lesson of faith.
But what about the lesson of love?
Love is a fruit of faith. Love has to do with how you care for your neighbor and not how you will be saved. God simply expects you to love your neighbor, but, in the saving faith of Jesus, He does not hold your failures against you.
What does love look like this account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand?
In one word. Love looks like generosity. When you are generous, some else receives the benefit. Generosity is love.
Jesus shows generosity to Philip and Andrew first. Holy Scripture does not paint Philip or Andrew in a good light but rather as weak disciples. Philip brings his reason and intellect to the problem of where they will get enough food to feed the five thousand. A year's salary would only afford each to eat a little. Jesus listens but doesn't hold Philip's lack of trust against him. Andrew brings his lack of reason or intellect to the problem. Here's some bread and fish? But that won't be enough, will it? Jesus listens and doesn't hold Andrew's lack of trust against him. But Jesus excels at generosity. Jesus excels at loving His neighbor, even Philip and Andrew.
Looking to Jesus rather than Philip and Andrew, what does Holy Scripture teach us about growing in generosity?
First, receive Jesus' Word and Sacrament more often. You can only give away what you have first received. If unforgiven sin is what you have then all you have to give is sin. So repent and receive the forgiveness of your sins.
Second, Jesus also says this, "But just as you excel in everything- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving...Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Third, generosity is proportional. You can only give what you have. If you have little you can only give s little. And that is ok. If you have a lot then you can give more. And that is ok, too.
So, here in the Feeding of the Five Thousand we see both faith and love. Therefore, first, I encourage you in the faith of Jesus by not being overly anxious about your daily bread, what you will eat or what you will wear or how you will pay your next bill. Jesus already knows what He is going to do for you. Second, I encourage to love your neighbor a little more. It begins by receiving the grace of God and continues by considering how you might become more generous to those around you. Like, Jesus, who was generous to all the 5,000 of both good and bad folks gathered on that day of the Feeding of the 5,000.
And remember God loves you, His closest neighbor; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and keep you in body and soul through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior. Amen.