Fourth Sunday in Lent (1895)
John 6:1-15It is at present a poor, needy time, as everyone knows.
And even this poverty of thetime is an act of God, as Scripture clearly teaches. What does God now intend by sending us alow, needy time? We do not ask what this means for the godless world, but in this case whatare the gracious purposes of God to and for us Christians. We can find an answer to thisquestion if we look at our Gospel today that tells us about the miraculous feeding of the fivethousand by Christ. In particular we pay attention that Christ asked Philip a question before thismiracle to test him, and that afterwards the people wanted to make the Lord Jesus king overthem, but in vain. Therefore today we ask the question:
How do we have to regard the present needy time according to our text?
As a test of our faith in God's provision in earthly goods
.a. The Lord addressed the question to Philip when He saw a great multitude coming toHim: Where shall we buy bread that these may eat? He said this to test him. He knew well whathe wanted to do.
Philip, however, showed little growth in this test. His weakness was manifest.His answer
was not very joyful in faith. Likewise Andrew.
But the LORD himself helped thesetwo and the other disciples stand the test, by the miraculous feeding of the five thousand.
b. We have to regard the current needy time as such a test of faith. The Lord alsosimilarly asks us by the present shortage: Where shall we buy bread, etc.? So the Lord says thisto test us; to test us whether we joyfully say: Lord, etc. Regrettably, we often fail this test. Werightly become aware of our weakness precisely by the test. We usually give just meek,hesitating answers like Philip and Andrew. But we are able to pass the test if we alwaysconsider anew the glorious miracle of feeding the five thousand, and strengthen our faith fromit.2.
As a reminder not to forget about the earthly and even the heavenly goods
.a. A serious reminder was urgently needed by the people in our text
, which reminderthey also received from Christ.
Those people recognized from the glorious miracles that Christis the Prophet who is to come into the world.
But what did they now want from Christ? Notabove all spiritual, but physical goods. They wanted to catch him, that they made him as king
Perhaps a reference to the Panic of 1893. The after-effects of the Panic of 1893 were still being felt two yearslater. - Tr.