Monday, March 11, 2013

The Prophet who has Come into the World

6:1 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.
“This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” 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 withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” It must have been disappointing for him. Here he had just performed a great miracle, and the people don’t get it. They are ready to destroy everything and make him into nothing more than a political pawn, which is all a king ever is. He withdraws to the mountain to save himself, that he might be able to save them.
The people, I suppose they just don’t know any better. Two thousand years have passed and they still don’t seem to know any better. They still want to turn Jesus into a political pawn. I suppose there is a degree to which that is inevitable.
Jesus just fed five thousand people with a couple loaves of bread and a couple fish. I suppose the people thought if he could do that he could solve all the problems of this world. In a way they were right, they just didn’t understand what the problems were. Like trying to cure the disease by treating the symptoms, they knew the symptoms well enough but not the disease. And curing the disease sometimes requires counterintuitive action, action that at first does not seem to be addressing the problem.
The people recognize that Jesus is The Prophet. Not just any prophet, but The Prophet. People tend to recognize that even today. But they often don’t get what that means. These people thought Jesus was the answer to every conceivable issue they could think of. But they couldn’t think big enough. Jesus was the answer to so much more. And if they just would have stopped to listen to him they would have learned that.
I think that is our biggest problem today. We don’t know how to listen to Jesus. Mary and Martha come to mind, and too often we are Martha, trying to do for Jesus before we even stop to listen to him, and find out what it is needs doing. And most often, what needs doing is nothing more than listening to him, and being fed by him. Because when it comes to Jesus he came not to be served, but to serve. Kings come to be served, and only indirectly do they serve. It is quite a different context.
And so Jesus feeds because he has come to serve. He comes to serve us. He is never disinterested in our small earthly problems, but he addressed problems much greater than that, problems we never thought could be addressed, problems we still have trouble getting our minds around. He comes to solve this. And this means that he has to feed us with a different type of bread altogether.
Yes Jesus comes to feed us with the bread of life. It isn’t an earthly bread that can only sustain this life here, that ends up causing more hunger than it satisfies, but a bread that satisfies our hunger for righteousness with the forgiveness of sins. This is why he withdraws to the mountain and avoids becoming an earthly king, so that as our heavenly king he might finally be abandoned on another mountain to die for our sins, and there prepare our paschal feast. Yes he comes to bring us a different bread altogether, he comes to bring us the bread of life which is his body, the body of the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Now he has addressed the disease, now he has given us eternal life, in time the symptoms of death and sin will also cease, but now you are given eternal life. For the Prophet did not come to be an earthly king that rules by law and puts to death, but a heavenly king who rules by the gospel and puts to life.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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