Worship Helps for Pentecost 11

The Israelites in the desert
Artist: Tintoretto
Date: 1593

Worship Theme: Many Christian churches stress social action. Feeding the hungry is important for Christians. God commands acts of mercy. Sadly, however, many churches offer little more than physical bread, bread that does not last. Bread is necessary for this life, but Jesus wants his Church to focus on offering the Bread of Life (Jesus himself, the Word of God). This Bread nourishes our souls, not just now, but for all eternity.

Old Testament: Exodus 16:2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days." 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?" 8 Moses also said, "You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD." 9 Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.'" 10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud. 11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'" 13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'" 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. 19 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

1. Why did all Israel grumble against Moses and Aaron?

2. Whenever we grumble, against whom are we grumbling? (See 16:8)

3. How did the LORD provide for his grumbling people?

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. … These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

4. How would you respond if someone says, “I know God severely punished people long ago, but things changed once Jesus died on the cross”? (See 10:11)

5. Can a Christian lose his or her faith? (See 10:12)

Gospel: John 6:24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" 26 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." 28 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" 29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." 30 So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." 35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

6. What kind of bread were the people interested in having from Jesus? What kind of bread did Jesus offer? How did the people misunderstand?

7. What did Jesus mean when he said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty”?


Answers:
1. Israel was in a difficult spot: They had very little to eat.

2. Whenever we grumble, we are grumbling against the LORD. Yet he has put us where we are. He promises to provide all his children need, and he has been so kind, so often. He forbids grumbling. So why do we grumble?

3. From heaven the LORD daily provided Manna (Hebrew for “What in the world …?”) It was “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (16:31). On this particular day, the LORD also provided quail.

4. If someone claims that Old Testament Bible stories about God punishing people do not apply to us, we should tell them that the New Testament says that all those stories are meant to warn us and to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things, as people long ago did.

5. Sadly, yes, a Christian can lose his or her faith. We need this warning whenever we think we are standing firm on our own. When we feel unsure of our future and sorry for our sins, we need the comfort only the Gospel gives.

6. The people were interested in having physical bread. Jesus offered “food that endures to eternal life.” The people still thought that Jesus was offering physical bread that would last forever.

7. Jesus is talking about faith in him as the Savior from sin. While Jesus also promises to provide for our daily, earthly needs, here he is focusing on the eternal needs of our souls. Through faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life, we can be assured that we will never go spiritually hungry or thirsty.


 Putting your faith into action
At a buffet restaurant each customer chooses an appropriately sized serving so that there is no leftover food to pick up from the tables. If there are lots of leftovers it means the customer demonstrated a lack of control and bad judgment. When God gave the Israelites manna for food, he promised to provide all the manna each person needed. But some doubted. They saw the delicate nature of the manna and how it appeared like frost. They came to the logical conclusion that such light nourishment would not be enough, so some gathered more than they could eat. But the excess manna spoiled, became insect-infested, and smelled horrible. God promises to give us “all that we need to support this body and life” (Martin Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed). If we trust God’s Word, we can be satisfied in having what we need. “Take all you need,” says God, “but use all you take in service to my world.”

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 11
[NEGATIVE STATEMENTS]
We reject the following teaching of the popes and monks: after regeneration a person can completely fulfill God’s Law in this life, and through this fulfillment of the Law he is righteous before God and merits eternal life.

On the other hand, the enthusiasts should be rebuked with great seriousness and zeal.  They should not be tolerated in any way in God’s Church.  They imagine that God, without any means, without the hearing of the divine Word, and without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws people to Himself, enlightens, justifies, and saves them.

We should also rebuke those who imagine that in conversion and regeneration God creates a new heart and new person in such a way that the substance and essence of the old Adam, and especially the rational soul, are completely destroyed, and a new essence of the soul is created out of nothing.  St. Augustine clearly rebukes this error in ‹his comments on› Psalm 25, where he quotes the passage from Paul [in Ephesians 4:22], “Put off your old self …”  Augustine explains this in the following words: Lest anyone might think that the essence of a person is to be laid aside, he explains what it is to lay aside the old man, and to put on the new, when he says: “Putting away lying, speak the truth.” – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article II, Free Will, paragraphs 79-81


Text of the opening hymn: Rock Of Ages, Cleft For Me
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood From thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure: Cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r.

Not the labors of my hands Can fulfill thy law's demands.
Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress, Helpless, look to thee for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly -- Wash me, Savior, or I die!

While I draw this fleeting breath, When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown, See thee on thy judgment throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee!

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