Laetare (Lent 5)
Audio
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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
March 10, 2013
Central Passage
John 6:1-15
Description

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It hardly seems that the Lord always provides more than we need. But He does. It’s not that the Lord doesn’t provide all that we need or even want, but that we are fixated on the provisions rather than the Provider. And what we, like the Israelites in the wilderness, are provisions that are fleeting.

The manna they gathered melted in the hot sun. What if it wasn’t there tomorrow? So they tried to gather more than what the Lord commanded, the provisions for that day. And the extra they gathered rotted and bred worms and made their camp a stench. The Lord provides what we need, all that we need and even want, but we are afraid because we look to the provisions rather than the Provider. We know our heavenly Father cares for us, but we are afraid that He won’t care for us the way we want to be cared for. So we spend our lives trying to secure the future and plan for tomorrow, when our Lord has said, “Do not worry about tomorrow.”

We work the earth by the sweat of our brow, but it is the Lord that causes growth. He sends the rain and the sun. He produces the crop. We don’t work the earth by the sweat of our brow because by our sweat we provide for ourselves, we work the earth by the sweat of our brow as a curse because we did not trust the provisions of the Lord.

We say we work for a paycheck, but it is the Lord that provides an employer and our daily bread. He may or may not provide it by our paycheck. We know this because we know many people who have eaten and still eat and yet do not receive a paycheck. We say we work to secure our future, but it is the Lord that gives and the Lord that takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. In the hill country of Judea the Lord fed 5,000 men plus women and children without their paychecks. He does the same for you.

When our Lord Jesus tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow,” He’s not giving us advice on how to keep our blood pressure down. He’s instructing us in the way of the kingdom of heaven. For the Lord who reigns heaven and earth provides for His creation out of His abundance. He provides for you all that you need or want. He doesn’t just give you bread and fish. He gives you McDonald’s and Long John Silver’s. He gives you March Madness, color TV, and hot fudge Sundays. He is not a god of want but the God of plenty. And from His abundance He pours out blessings upon blessings.

But our carnal eyes get in the way. We see what we do not have – like Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit – and we think the Lord is holding out on us. We see all the wasted manna, like the Israelites in the wilderness, and we think to gather what the Lord has forbidden. And what we gather is rotten and breeds worms and makes our lives a stench. When we become concerned about the provisions rather than trusting in the Provider, then we loose sight of Him. When Peter stepped out of the boat onto the sea, he was concerned only with the Provider who provided sure footing even on water. But when Peter became concerned with the provisions and their uncertain nature, he lost sight of the Provider and sank. If we would find satisfaction and contentment in the Lord, then we would know the blessings of the Lord.

But we like to think we earn what we get. We like to think that it is by our paycheck and by our efforts that we have what we have. It gives us a sense of security to know that if we work and try hard and make an effort, we can affect our future. And it justifies our disdain for those we think lazy and fruitless. If they would just work harder and be smarter, they, too, can have what we have. Never mind that it is the Lord that gives and the Lord that takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

And we like to think that we earn what we get in the kingdom of heaven, too. It is the way of carnal minds. Sure, getting in is pure, unmerited grace, but once inside we earn what we get. So much so that we speak as though we earn the Lord’s Supper by Confirmation and we earn Confirmation by going to class. We earn membership by our tithes or by our attendance. We act as though we earn the right to ignore our sins and no longer repent of them, having earned leniency by our devotion. We think we’ve earned the right to be leaders or to be heard or to be followed. But we have earned nothing. The Lord gives or does not give and we receive what He gives or else we deny Him. But we like to pretend we’ve earned it because we want to believe we can control it.

 Or else we like to pretend that we are blessed by God because we don’t lie or cheat or steal as much as other people. We all think we’re better than most people. But we’re not. We’re no better than the worst and most vile offender and sinner. The only difference is the mercy we’ve been given. For it is the mercy of God that you are not a murderer. It is by the grace of God that you are not an adulterer or thief or that your lies have not undone your reputation and livelihood. It is by the mercy of God that you as you are and not as worse as you would be.

The Lord provides our righteousness just as He provides our daily bread. He provides our righteousness in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can neither add to it nor take away from it. All we can do is confess it. We cannot shore up God’s blessings by our good behavior any more that we can shore up tomorrow by our hard work. For tomorrow may never come. All we can do is trust in the Lord today for what He provides. And it is enough.

Today He provides for you food for your soul and bread for your eternal life. Today He gives you His mercy and promises in the body and blood of His eternal Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. Today He provides you with the faith by which you receive and the new heart by which you give thanks. Today He provides all that you need for the support and needs of your eternal life in Christ. For today He provides Christ.

And tomorrow, should it come, He will do the same. For He is not a god of want but the God of plenty. And His mercies are new every morning, just like the manna on the desert floor. And everyday He provides all that you need and more so that you are never in want of what the Lord provides. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

+ In Nomine Iesu +