Pentecost 10 B 2021 Grumbling Sermon
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
You may not have noticed it, but there is a theme that runs through our readings today. Or maybe you did you notice it! The theme is God’s Gifts. In the reading from Exodus, and the reading from Ephesians, and the reading from the Gospel of John, God is busy bestowing Gifts upon His people.
And all three texts point out that God is a gracious God who wants to give us what we need. And if that were the only message in our texts today, we could end the sermon right now and sing the Hymn of the Day. But that is not the only message our texts highlight today.
The scriptures today also point out the way God’s people responded to the Gifts God showers upon His people. And I am going to tell you it was not always with gratitude. Take our reading from Exodus for example. The people of Israel grumbled and complained about the Gifts God had given to them.
Here the Lord had brought them out of Egypt and freed them from the bonds of slavery and the people grumbled and moaned about their current condition.
“What have you done, Moses, bringing us out into this wilderness to starve to death?” the people shouted. Even after all that the Lord had done for them, the people were still not able to trust that the Lord would supply them with all that they needed to survive.
And that was unfortunate because God was not going to let the people starve to death. And even when the people were ungrateful, the Lord still was gracious and gave the people what they needed for their journey.
In the evening, the Lord sent them quail so they would have meat to eat. And in the morning the Lord sent them a bread-like food called manna for them to consume to give them the energy they needed to make it through the day.
Even so, the people complained and said: “What is this?” And they thumbed their nose at the food the Lord had given them to eat.
The people were unable and unwilling to respond with gratitude and thanksgiving for the blessings that the Lord had given to them.
But they were not the only folks to do this. In the Gospel reading for today the Lord also provided the people what they needed, and they also responded badly.
Last week we heard the story of the feeding of the 5,000, and how Jesus had fed a large group of people with five barley loaves and two fish. And we were told that the large body of hungry people were satisfied and that they began to follow Jesus hoping that Jesus would provide for there every need.
But Jesus had other plans, and Jesus pointed out to them that they did not follow Him because of “the signs,” but because they had eaten their fill of the loaves and because their bellies were full.
And because of this, they were unable to focus on what Jesus was really aiming for, which was to satisfy their spiritual hunger with food that never perishes. And at the end of the day, we realized how short sighted they really were.
But before we start slapping ourselves on the back, we need to stop and reflect upon how we respond to the gifts that God gives to us.
How many times have we told God to give us what we want instead of thanking God for what God has given to us? And how many times have we been like the Israelites and the large crowd and complained and thumbed our noses at what the Lord has given to us only to realize that we too have been shortsighted.
And how many times have we forgotten to fear, love, and trust God above everything else (First Commandment) only to discover that in doing so we were really telling God that we think we know things better than He does and that we had good reason to think that God is not doing a good job at being our God.
How many times have we turned our backs to God and rejected the good things God wants to give to us? Unfortunately, way too many times.
As the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness highlights “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.”
“We confess that we have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed, and by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We confess that we have not loved God with our whole heart; and that we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.”
And how does God respond? Our Lenten verse states: “when we return to the Lord, our God, he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”
God looks upon us with favor and God showers us with gifts that we do not deserve. And not only does God give us what we need to sustain us from day to day such as food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, spouse, children, vocation, health, honor, peace, faithful neighbors, and everything else we need to live a healthy life; God also gives us the gift of His Son.
In our text today, God’s beloved Son speaks to you, and me, and the large crowd that had been fed with five barley loaves and two fish these wonderful words of life.
“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.”
And again, Jesus said: “I am the bread of heaven; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
The greatest gift is Jesus Christ our Lord. The One whom God sent into the world to give life to the world for sinners like you and me. The One whom God sent not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
So how do we receive God’s gift of salvation? Do we grumble or complain? Do we tell God that we have it all figure out and that we do not need God? Or do we accept with gratitude and thanksgiving all that God has provided for us and for our salvation as we hear these words: “In the mercy of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for you, and for His sake God forgives you all your sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit.”
Yes, God truly is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.
Let us pray: Gracious Father, your blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world. Give us this bread, that he may live in us and we in him, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.