In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord tested Philip and Philip failed. Unlike the Canaanite woman whose faith was praised two weeks ago, Philip has misplaced his faith. He has placed it on himself, on his fellow disciples, on earthly provision. Jesus asked him, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But there wasn’t a place to buy bread. There wasn’t a Giant Eagle there in the wilderness, but even if there had been, that wouldn’t be the answer. But Philip can’t see that. He looks at Jesus and says in frustration, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” He looks at a crowd of 5,000, plus women and children—maybe 15,000 in all—and says that roughly $28,000 worth of food isn’t even enough to give everyone a meager portion. And then Andrew chimes in: “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” In other words, This is useless. What have you done, Jesus?
Philip and Andrew failed the test. What would the right answer have been? Perhaps Abraham’s line, “The Lord will provide.” Or maybe what St. John said to the angel, “Sir, you know.” Even the standard Sunday School answer would have worked: “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” “Jesus!” As simplistic as it sounds, “Jesus” really is the right answer. He alone provided what Philip and Andrew couldn’t buy, what they couldn’t grow, what they hadn’t earned or deserved, and more than they could contain because their baskets overflowed.
Philip and Andrew may have failed, but it doesn’t matter. They failed because they were sinners, turned in on themselves, considering only their own hungers. They couldn’t look past this earth. But Jesus came to seek and to save sinners. He declared them holy, to be His saints, to have His innocence and righteousness. He even made them Apostles. The answer they could not give, the miracle they could not imagine, was provided for them. They, too, ate and were full. They were forgiven for their lack of faith and were made citizens of a Kingdom where they now live on far more than bread alone.
We fall into the same trap as Philip and Andrew. We get so caught up in our daily lives, especially the work to earn a living, and forget that it is God who provides. We add up our debts, the cost of the things we need, the cost of the things we think we need, and we come up with a tremendous number. Would $28,000 even last one year? What will we do? Where will it all come from? Repent. Your mind is on the wrong thing.
“The Lord will provide.” “Sir, you know.” “Jesus.” Those are the answers to life’s troubles and worries. Even if you have no money, the Lord invites you: “Come, buy and eat. Buy wine and milk without money and without price.” As impossible as it was for 15,000 people to sit down and be fed with just five loaves and two fishes and walk away with twelve overflowing baskets of leftovers, it happened.
It is even less possible that one Man should die for the people, that God should love those who hate Him, and give His life to those who killed Him, but it happened and it is still in effect. This is mercy and compassion beyond our understanding. The Father has sacrificed His Son. He has purchased us with His own Blood. So no matter what mundane things we worry about, Jesus takes care of it and makes sure we have our daily bread and so much more.
But no matter what daily bread Jesus gives us, the most important thing you have is Him. No matter what happens in your life, no matter how you sin, break God’s commandments, and strain the relationships you have with those around you, you have Jesus. He is your Priceless Treasure above all others. He comes to you to give you forgiveness for all your sins. That, more than anything else, is why He gives you the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord’s Supper. He gives this gift to you to forgive your sins. He gives Himself to you so that you may learn to trust Him in all things. The Christian lives by the Lord’s Supper. It is where God teaches us what it is to be a true disciple: to kneel at His feet, to receive everything from His loving care.
But what about concerns in this life, about daily bread when it seems like there’s none to be had? God knows that these fears are real. He knows, however, that these fears are not overcome by idle talk. He knows that as faith matures, the fears become less consuming. As He helps that faith grow, He does all that He has promised to do. He gives you everything you need to sustain this body and life. That does not mean He will necessarily give it in superabundance or extravagance, but He gives you enough.
When you come to Him with your fears, He knows exactly what to give you to help calm them. He says, “Take, eat; this is My Body.” “I forgive you all your sins.” “I confess you before my Father in heaven.” “I died and rose for you.” “I am coming back for you.”
Rejoice this day and always. God, through Christ, has made an everlasting covenant with you. Not only does He provide for the needs of this body and life, but He has prepared so much more for you. The Lord’s Resurrection, for which this Lenten season prepares you, guarantees your own. The concerns of this sinful life you will leave forever to be with Jesus, your priceless Treasure.
The peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus
Sermons from Mount Olive
Mount Olive follows the historic one-year lectionary (series of readings).