KING JESUS! Pentecost 8B
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
22 July 2012 Murdock, NE
St John 6: 1-15 (This bulk of this sermon is borrowed from Rev. Dr. John Stephenson, St. Catherines, Ontario)
+ Jesu Juva +
Let me name just three of the things that you teenagers and the majority of the rest of you basically take for granted. Unless, of course, you are old and decrepit like me.
First, very few of you look all skin and bones, which gives me the idea you think you’ll always have plenty to eat.
Secondly, young and strong as you are, you count on having healthy bodies for the next several decades.
Thirdly, because you’ve had patriotic songs drilled into you about the “true North strong and free” [Canada] or about the “land of the free,” [Star Spangled Banner] you assume that you are going to enjoy full political and civil liberty for the rest of your earthly lifetime.
Don’t be too sure about any of those things, my friends.
This summer most of North America is enduring the worst drought in fifty years, with the result that, unless the ground soon receives lots of cool, refreshing rain, food prices may be skyrocketing by the fall, which will be a big problem for poor people and perhaps for all of us. It’s not out of the question that this generation may experience real famine and know what real hunger is all about.
When I was at St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada this past week, I learned that the seminary’s oldest professor just had a serious heart attack in Germany, and, when he gets back, he will need a hip replacement within a year. That’ll be a tall order, because there are long waiting lists for operations like that in Canada. Whether you live in Canada or here in the United States there are big deficiencies in the healthcare systems! And that has become one of the biggest issues in our country with the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law earlier this month.
As for freedom, don’t forget that, during the 20th century, most people on the face of the earth lived under one kind of tyranny or another. Germany’s Third Reich and the Holocaust of millions of Jews and other ethnic groups! Mussolini’s Fascism! Stalin’s Communist utopia that murdered people by the millions! Pol Pot’s killing fields! Idi Amin’s murderous rampages in Uganda! There’s no guarantee that constitutional, representative government is going to continue indefinitely in the United States and there are many indications that it won’t. So some of you may very well some day soon live under some kind of dictator.
The three problems I’ve just listed are not new to the modern world. All three of them were big issues for the ancient world, and the Jewish crowds that thronged to our Lord on a Galilean hillside. The Jewish crowds that flocked to Jesus were very familiar with these problems. They wanted freedom from Roman occupation. They were weary of falling ill with no system of medical care to fall back on. And hunger and famine were frequent spectres in their lives.
In times of crisis, the crowds look for a deliverer. In times of trouble—and we do live in troubled times—people long for a strongman, they yearn for a wonderworker. If you are learning any history at school (which I don’t think you really do), you would know how going on a hundred years ago Russia fell under Lenin and Communism and how Germany was entranced by Hitler and Nazism. Don’t think stuff like that couldn’t happen here. It absolutely can, and the Hitlers, Lenins, and Stalins of the 21st century are going to be all the more dangerous because they will approach their victims with a smile; they will lure many souls into their trap as they sing patriotic verses and quote the founding fathers.
Those Jews on the Galilean hillside were a few steps above the deluded masses of recent times; they were looking for more than a tin-pot dictator to get them out of a tight corner. They were expecting the Messiah promised by God, the Deliver who would bring in the new age to come.
So, when Jesus spoke as He did, when He healed all manner of diseases, and when He supernaturally produced copious amounts of food, they put two and two together, made four, and rightly concluded that Jesus was the fulfilment of just about the greatest prophecy Moses ever made.
Do you remember what Moses said right before his death? He declared: “The Lord will raise up a Prophet like me, like me but more than me, a Prophet with an even closer relationship to God, a Deliverer who will leave the Exodus in the bleachers.” (Deuteronomy 18)
Those Jews who got it were so right, so very right, yet there was something they got wrong. Jesus had to quickly withdraw from them! He had to make a mysteriously quick get-away up the hillside when they decided that they would force Him to be their bread king!
You see, they would have had Him reign with their approval and govern according to their agenda. But that could never be because Jesus is King by the will of God. He’s the original King “by the grace of God.” He doesn’t need the support of anyone’s majority vote. His preaching and all that He does is given Him by the Father!
Jesus is the answer to every problem and every question that you dear teenagers and all you here at Trinity will ever have. If you know that Jesus is the true King seated at the right hand of the Father, the Lenins, Stalins, Hitlers, and Pol Pots of the 21st century will never be ultimately able to enslave you, though they may do you a lot of harm. Because He is the true King, He can never sign off on any man-made agenda, whether it be the desire of 1st-century Jews for national liberation or any set of goals and aspirations you or I could devise in our hearts.
Of course, many of you do have deep-down problems, and sometimes you are painfully aware of them. Some of you may already have experienced what a terrible tyrant sin is in human lives, and perhaps you long for true freedom, for liberty to be and to think and to speak and to do as you know you should. Maybe you are hungry and thirsty for food and drink that satisfies your soul and makes you whole. Perhaps there are things going on in your souls and even in your bodies that cry out for healing.
When Jesus comes to us in His special, sacramental way in this morning’s divine service, when through Pastor’s lips He speaks His divine, almighty, heavenly, and holy words from the upper room over bread and wine, making them to be His body and blood, realize that He is taking His throne on the altar and coming to you as King. Bring your troubles and your longings and your prayers and your petitions to Him. Receive His body and His blood as your spiritual meat and drink, as the manna that will sustain you through the wilderness wanderings of this 21st century.
And marvel that, although the tyrants of the 20th century are dead and gone and although the tyrants of the 21st century will enjoy only a brief season of power, the humble King who sat on a Galilean hillside still reigns at the right hand of the Father and that He will return in glory at the close of the age to rescue His Church.
In the Name of Jesus.