Devotion 148 – Fourth Sunday in Lent (Morning)

Opening Prayer

Lord, give us the Bread of Life. Amen.

Text: John 6:1-15

After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone.

Devotion

Just as physical life has to have nourishment to be sustained and grow, so also spiritual life. If you have life in God, you must nourish it with the Bread of Life, or it will wither and die. Many Christians live a very poor spiritual life: eyes are dull, hands withered, and knees weak. This happens because they don’t nourish themselves properly with the Bread from heaven. — What kind of bread is that? Jesus says: “I am the Bread of Life.” With His love, grace, Spirit, and life He is in the Holy Gospel through which you partake of Him, when you use it from the heart.

How does this happen? You should be diligent in your calling as a Christian and be zealous for all good works, serving the Lord with a pure heart, becoming rich in the service of love, making the most of your talents. Then if you feel in yourself much sin, much weakness, selfishness, self-righteousness, pride, laziness, cowardice, unbelief, and lukewarmness, then press on more and more to Jesus. For you need strength, spirit, courage, and understanding, and you need forgiveness of sins, forgiveness for all you have done, and for all you neglect. This makes you hungry for the Bread of Life.

Use the Word diligently then, both by yourself and together with others. Daily renew your Baptismal covenant, and partake of the Lord’s Supper regularly. Rise early to gather manna, and you shall find it. The wilderness and the dry places shall blossom [Isa 35], and the rock shall pour forth abundant water [Exo 17:6]. You shall eat and live; you shall surely grow in the Lord’s power. Faith, love, patience, hope, peace, and joy within you shall increase. Christ shall become strong in you, while sin and the flesh shall die and be destroyed.

Are you hungry today for the Bread of Life? Does your heart beg for life and happiness, for faith and love, for peace and forgiveness of sins? What the Lord’s servants have to offer you seems so little. But really there is life and truth in it. Eat and drink without cost (Isa 55); indulge yourself heartily. You will get all you need and it shall be more than enough for everyone. – But if you do not hunger for Him who is the Bread of Life, then you are most certainly dead spiritually. God help you to wake up before it is too late!

Closing Prayer

Yes, Lord Jesus, make the dead alive and strengthen the living. Be our life, and let us live only in You. Amen.

Hymn

There is a food, supplying
What earth can never grow;
From hunger we are dying
Unless we learn to know.
It is the manna sweet
That falls from heav’n so often
And ev’ry care doth soften—
God’s Word, this food indeed.

Thy sheep, dear Lord, we come here
Thy holy Word to heed,
Grant that we may not leave here
Of nourishment in need.
O Jesus, Bread of Life,
All hungry souls be filling
Who gladly now are dwelling
With Thee in desert strife.

We surely then would perish
Upon the path we trace,
If Thou left us to famish
Without Thy Word of grace.
Thy kingdom, Lord, be first!
O let us be reminded–
Enough Thou art supplying
To calm all need and thirst.

Landstad: Hvad er det blandt saa mange L 288:5-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (ELH 465); or O Bread of Life from heaven ELH 266