Friday of Septuagesima

Daily Lectionary: Job 13:1-12; John 6:1-21

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:15)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus had just used five loaves of bread and two fish to miraculously feed five thousand people. Imagine if you had been there--a suffering Jew looking for relief from oppressive Roman rule and feeling hope surge through you as you hungrily devoured the food this Jesus had provided. He seemed to be the conquering hero they had been looking for. What they couldn't or wouldn't see was that what He offered them wasn't merely earthly nourishment but rather the true Bread of Life (Himself) for their souls.

You see, Israel was awaiting their Messiah, and they thought they were on the right track, expecting a triumphant king who would ride in to save the day. Even the Apostles--close to Jesus for three years--thought He was going to do just that.

But Jesus knew His Kingdom was not about earthly pomp and glory. And He knew that the time had not yet come for His Kingdom to be established. All in His perfect time and all in His perfect way--not as the conquering hero but as the suffering servant. This is why He withdrew to a mountain by Himself when He perceived the crowd's intent.

This seems to be God's pattern, doesn't it? To work through the lowly, the small, the weak and yet still accomplish His glorious purposes. So it is when Christ comes in a manger as a helpless babe, lives a humble life as a carpenter for 30 years and then proceeds to baffle everyone during His three years of ministry. Was He an amazing teacher? Perhaps a prophet? Could He be the Messiah? Was He a king? All of the above! But rather than the expected way, or the way we would demand or require, our Lord established His Kingdom by dying an agonizing death on a cross to rise victoriously from the dead three days later. Only in the days following His resurrection would the pieces of the Kingdom puzzle start to fall in place for those closest to Him and from there, that Kingdom would grow as his followers baptized and taught all nations to the very ends of the earth. This is why you, too, are in His kingdom--baptized in His name. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Ride on, ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die. O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin O'er captive death and conquered sin. Ride on, ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die. Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain, Then take, O God, They pow'r and reign (Ride On, Ride On in Majesty, LSB 441:2,5)

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