And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.There was an obvious linkage between this and our Old Testament reading, Numbers 21:4-9 which contained the story of the snake on a stick.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’
I cannot explain the deviation from the norm, but I will keep my eyes open for further such occurences.
Instead we heard John 6:4-15, the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.
This reading served as a basis for today's sermon.
I am glad our preacher put to rest the lie foisted upon us by previous preachers that explained away the miraculous by suggesting that the people may have had food hidden in their cloaks, and after hearing Jesus, they gave of what they had been hoarding in order to feed their neighbors (the old social justice gospel). Interestingly, only a few people raised their hands to indicate that they had heard that lie before (thank the Lord people weren't paying attention back then). Overall it was a good sermon that put the miracle from God back in the story.
On hearing the story of the feeding of the five thousand again, I was struck by the words (not highlighted in the sermon),
"Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all."
It was the simple description of the place, a place with a great deal of grass, that made me think, "Of course! Where else would the shepherd place His flock but in a green pasture." I chuckled to myself thinking that Jesus does not adivise the hungry flock to eat grass, but instead feeds them the unexpected, in this case: bread and fish.
And today, we were treated to the unexpected.
May miracles never cease.