THE INVOCATION

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.

THE COLLECT                                                                                    

Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your Son You fed five thousand men in the wilderness with five loaves and two fish: We beseech You graciously to abide also with us in the fullness of Your blessing. Preserve us from greed and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and in all things perceive Your fatherly goodness; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever.  Amen

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON                         Isaiah 49:8-13 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
    in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
    as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
    to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
    to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways;
    on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
10 they shall not hunger or thirst,
    neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
    and by springs of water will guide them.
11 And I will make all my mountains a road,
    and my highways shall be raised up.
12 Behold, these shall come from afar,
    and behold, these from the north and from the west,
    and these from the land of Syene.”

13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.

GRADUAL

Christ humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

EPISTLE LESSON                                              Acts 2:41-47 (ESV)

41 So those who received [Peter’s] word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

GOSPEL LESSON                                             John 6:24-35 (ESV)

24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

THE SERMON       Rev. David H. Locklair

   Dear fellow redeemed,

          We are living in a very difficult time. Concern due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus has led to many changes to our daily lives and much isolation. Right now, most churches, our own included, are trying to figure out ways that we can safely gather together in person once more. People are concerned. They are concerned about their very lives. Are you concerned? Are you troubled? Are you anxious concerning the things of this earthly life? Take heart.  Christ is the Bread of Life. He is that food which endures forever. He is that food which satisfies forever.

          You are quite familiar with the context for the words of Jesus in our text today. It is the feeding of the 5,000 wherein Christ multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed all those people. Christ took care of the people in the midst of a great need; they had been a long way from any towns and lacked necessary food.

          Jesus cares about your physical needs too. Jesus is aware of your needs in the midst of this pandemic. Jesus will not leave you alone. You may feel isolated at this moment, but Jesus is with you. He has promised this. In Matthew 28 Jesus promised, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

          The people in our text sought out Jesus the next day but with the wrong motivation. They were only concerned with physical needs and not with the greater spiritual needs. They were not interested in having Jesus take care of their spiritual needs; they simply wanted Jesus to feed them with earthly bread. But Christ gives so much more because He is the Bread of Life.

          Jesus knew the condition of their hearts. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” They had the wrong mindset. Truly they had made earthly things their god and cast aside spiritual matters. They failed to see the point of the previous day’s miracle: that Jesus was the promised Messiah come to feed their souls.

          Throughout the rest of John 6, we learn that many of the people did not respond well to this. People by nature do not like to be told about their true spiritual condition. Which one of us has not had the experience of becoming angry upon hearing a proper rebuke from parent, or pastor, or friend? Here lies a powerful reminder of the depths of our sinful nature.

          Jesus told the crowd, “Do not labor for the food that perishes.” All earthly things are passing away. It is common to our sinful nature to set up matters of this life as the most important. It is common to our sinful nature to allow earthly ambitions to replace God as most important. It is common to our sinful nature to worry over earthly things instead of focusing on spiritual things. Earthly things spoil. Heavenly food remains. Here is a powerful reminder that we need Christ the Bread of Life because He and His gifts endure forever.

          Praise be to God that there is food which endures forever. This food gives us life. Jesus said to labor “for the food that endures to eternal life.” He gives such food; He Whom the Father has sealed for His work. The Son of God, the One Who was, and is, and is to come, came down from His heavenly dwelling. He became true man. His life was needed. It was needed to bring about life for you and me. He journeyed through the life of true man, fighting off all sin at every turn. No matter the situation, Christ never elevated earthly things or earthly needs above spiritual things and spiritual needs. As your replacement, He was triumphant in holiness!

          The death of the eternal Son of God was also needed. As true God, only Jesus could make payment that would have value for all people: the payment of the holy blood of God. And so He gave Himself up to death on the cross as your replacement. Jesus has made full satisfaction for your sins by His life and death for you. He is your forgiveness; He is your salvation.

          As the One who endures forever, death would not be victorious over Him. Breaking apart the hold of death, He returned again from death giving you the assurance of your own return from death. You do not need to fear death; Christ has already gone through it, rendering it harmless to you. It does not matter what should cause your death – old age, or virus, or accident, or any of the numerous other causes. Christ will lead you through it, ushering you into paradise. He endures forever as your victorious, life-giving Savior. He is your true heavenly food – the food which nourishes you to eternal life.

          Jesus, the true heavenly food, had taught the people about the importance of matters of eternity. The crowd, however, was still confused. They asked what they “must do” in order to do the works of God. They were focused on their works. But Jesus told them about God’s work. “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” The Bread of Life is received through faith; faith is worked by God in us by His Word. By His Word God gives us faith and He strengthens our faith. It is God’s work to give us belief in Christ. We receive Christ and all His blessings, our true food, through faith.

          Yet, this crowd of people continued to focus on earthly things. Even after Jesus taught and demonstrated to them that He is the promised Savior who endures forever, they continued to question Him. They refused to believe what He was telling them: that He is the Bread of Life Who endures and satisfies forever. They demanded, “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” They were demanding that Jesus do something if He wanted them to believe in Him.

          The crowd pointed back to Moses and the manna with which the Israelites were fed in the wilderness. The implication was that Moses did a greater work than Jesus because Moses had no bread and fish to start with. Even though these people had just been part of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 they demanded more. Anytime someone gives a condition on which they will believe, they are not speaking in faith but in self-righteousness.

          Jesus continued to patiently correct the people. In so doing, He taught them that He alone satisfies forever. He alone is the Bread of Life which satisfies for eternity. “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

          The true heavenly bread is not temporary. Manna was temporary. The true heavenly bread satisfies forever. Manna satisfied for the moment. Jesus, the One standing right in front of them, was offering Himself to them as the true heavenly food.

          Look carefully at Jesus’ description of this heavenly bread. First, it is “he who comes down from heaven.” Who came down from heaven? The Second Person of the Trinity, the Son who took on human flesh. Second, it “gives life to the world.” Manna was life sustaining, but not life giving. Only God can give life.

          Christ our heavenly food is received and “eaten” through faith. Through faith we obtain what Christ the Bread of Life gives. Life! Such “life” satisfies forever. It is the very opposite of death and separation from God’s blessings. It is an existence wherein the consequences of sin will not drag us down for we are covered by Jesus’ blood. It is a life in which we are credited with our Savior’s holy life and thus God sees us as holy.

          After Jesus gave this amazing description of the heavenly food, the crowd was interested. “Sir, give us this bread always.” However, they are still thinking of physical bread. Jesus the true bread was right in front of them! Jesus is the answer.

          Thus, in a powerful climax to our account, Jesus stated, “I am the bread of life.”  Yes, Jesus came down from heaven. He is the eternal Son of God, the Messiah. Yes, Jesus gives true life. Jesus is both living and life-giving, which is what the phrase “of life” means. No one else can give to us that life which lasts for all eternity and which is never found to be lacking. Jesus gives you the life you need. Your life in Jesus will continue into the perfect satisfaction of eternity.

          Jesus continued, “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” What does it mean to “come to Jesus?” It means to believe in Him. This is faith, and faith is the work of God through the Word. God gives us life and God sustains life in us forever.

Those who have such faith have true satisfaction. Eternal life is ours. We have no lack. The work of Christ and the words of Christ will remain forever. The thirst and hunger of not knowing that our sins are forgiven by a gracious God because of the work of Jesus is something we need never experience again. No earthly things will last. That includes our earthly troubles. That includes the COVID-19 virus. What greater satisfaction could there be than the possession of life that will not end, in a realm of only perfection, in the presence of God who loved us so much as to die for us?

At this time, not only I as your pastor but also the other pastors of our fellowship and Synod leaders are working to figure out how best serve you during this time. Please do contact me with any questions or concerns. The situation seems to be ever changing, but our Lord and His care for you does not change.

Dear friends, do not be afraid, neither of the COVID-19 virus nor of the many other earthly trials we face. Christ Jesus takes care of you. You are secure in Him. No matter what happens in this life, you are secure in Him. Christ Jesus is the Bread of Life. He endures forever and He satisfies forever. In Him, you will endure forever and be satisfied forever. Amen.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, Creator and Preserver of all things, we thank You for the grace and mercy You have shown to all people, especially in sending Your only Son to be our Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Be with us during this time of sickness, fear, and doubt. Let Your Word bring comfort and hope to all who hear it, calming fears and providing strength for each day. Give our leaders the wisdom to make decisions that will help our people with their earthly needs and protect us from all harm. Protect our doctors, nurses, and all who provide care to the sick and to those who cannot care for themselves. Give them an extra measure of strength and help them through this difficult time. We pray that You will also provide calm and peaceful days as together we face this disease. Remind each of us of our responsibility to our neighbor, that we consider others in all the decisions we make. Above all, we pray that Your will be done. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

THE BLESSING

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.