Monday, March 19, 2012

Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2012

John 6:1-15 (ESV)
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. [2] And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. [3] Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. [4] Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. [5] Lifting 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] He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. [7] Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." [8] One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, [9] "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?" [10] Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. [11] Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. [12] And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost." [13] So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. [14] When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!"
[15] Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

“Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”
Jesus was king, they didn’t have to make him king. But his kingdom, as he tells Pilate, is not of this world. Not that it is not concerned with this world, but it isn’t of this world. Jesus cares for us in this world in many ways. That he miraculously fed 5,000 on the hill side shows the concern he has for the well being of people in this world. He works tirelessly to feed them in this evil world. In fact when it is all said and done, he is the reason we have the food we do. He is constantly concerned that we have our daily bread. But his kingdom is not of this world. It will not operate in the manner that this world operates. His kingdom is greater than that. The people wanted to make him king in the only manner they knew. They wanted him to serve their purposes. He withdraws.
This happens today too. People would have Jesus at their beckon call. People would have Jesus be a king in the manner of earthly kings. They wanted him to serve them in the manner they wanted. They wanted an earthly king that would change the economy, and make everyone prosperous, restore the honor and integrity of Israel, feed the poor, give jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless. Of course Jesus eschewed all this sort of thing in his own life. He had no home, some might debate if he had a real job. He managed a living and stayed in the homes of friends. He seemed to be more apt to feed others than himself, but he made a living. He wasn’t interested in the job of king though. He withdrew to a mountain alone. He would not be overtaken by the crowd. He would not do their bidding. He needed to do more important things for them, things that could not be done if he did what they wanted, the two were incompatible. One cannot serve God and Money.
It is a hard thing to remember. I mean tax season is here. Tax day is approaching. I don’t imagine I’m the only one hoping to pull a gold coin out of the mouth of a fish, as Jesus instructed Peter to do in order to pay his taxes. Jesus gives us our daily bread. Things finally work out in the end. But we aren’t always satisfied with what we have. Coveting, idolatry, comes easy for us. Impatience with the ways of God comes on hard.
All too often people turn to Jesus in the hard times and reject him in the easy. All too often our faith in Jesus is little more than a bargain we make for him. We will have him be our God when things are going good. We will have him be our God as long as he does what we want him to do. But when he fails to answer our prayers in the manner we desire, he is not the one who withdraws, we are. Because even as Jesus withdraws from these people who would make him king in an earthly manner, Jesus has their best interest at heart.
Jesus knows all the toils and tribulations we suffer. He knows the anxiety we feel in this world as we struggle to pay our bills, put food on the table. And he works to make sure that we have the daily bread we need. But Jesus came to do more for us. If it were just a matter of what we need in this life, then he would not need to have come. But he did come, our king came. He came to do more, not less but more. He withdrew from these people not because he no longer cared for them, but because he cared more than they knew. They were worried about earthly bread, but Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven. Jesus withdrew so that he could go to the cross for these people who wanted to manipulate him for their own earthly causes. Jesus withdrew so he could go to the cross and die for the sins of the world, your sins and mine. Jesus went to the cross to die for the world that we who are never satisfied with the daily bread he so freely gives, would be given heavenly eternal bread and salvation, be given eternal life in his death and resurrection. For our king, who sees to all our earthly needs, came that he might look after our heavenly needs also.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

No comments: