Christianity is about so much more than "a relationship with Jesus." It is about a deep, holy union with the triune God. It's about sacrifice, submission, redemption, and propitiation. Unless you understand how much you need God, you'll never really understand how much He loves you. That's why describing the faith as a "friendship with God" falls far short of truly articulating what our Heavenly Father did for you when he sent Jesus Christ to earth and to the cross. Watch to learn more from this homily on Hebrews 9.
(A homily on Job 42. The video resolution is poor, but the audio is good.)
Are you in the midst of difficulty? Have you ever shaken your fist at the sky and exclaimed "why God, why?!" Has your heart hardened toward the Lord because of the unfairness of your circumstances? You are not alone.
That's why the church gave us the book of Job. In this old testament wisdom literature, we are given a glimpse into heaven. We watch disaster fall upon a good man, not because he was wicked, but because he was righteous. Did you catch that? Job experienced disaster because he was righteous.
Job's friends try to advise him in the midst of his sorrow. His wife grows bitter and tells him "curse God and die!" (vs. 2:9) But Job maintains his innocence and his faith, relentlessly demanding justice from the Lord God. Finally God answers Job in chapter 38 saying, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof . . ."
Over the course of four chapters, God outlines his sovereignty over all the earth, and Job is stunned into silence. Finally, in awe, Job responds by saying "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Oh that we too would remember the sovereignty of God and repent as he did, accepting our lot in life with gratitude.
The following is an excerpt from Sunday's sermon. Listen to learn more.
Men are lazy. I don’t mean to criticize men. But it’s true that a man will not give you his best without being challenged. There are those within our culture who are very adept at bringing out the best in us, we call them Coach, Drill Sergeant, Teacher, Dad, Mentor. These understand how to break down and build up a man to get the very best from him.
God in His sovereignty understood that Job was devoted to Him. He looks at the heart of a man, not the outward appearance. God had every confidence in Job that he would stand against any trial and not curse God, despite what the devil charges. But, we notice a He pus a limit upon what could be done to Job. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).
“St. Gregory comments that the devil has already been defeated, the Lord is chiding him for the impotence of his pride. St. Hesychius teaches that the devil cannot even speak without first receiving permission from God.”
How many in history have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by witnessing the unshakable faith of one under persecution? One who trusts God under trial burns like a great fire for the world to see. It is Job who stands refusing to curse God despite losing all he had. He maintains his innocence, and refuses to give in to self pity. Listen to learn more.
Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St. John is where our Lord begins His teaching on the Body and Blood (verse 51), “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” It is this earlier feeding of the five thousand, with five loaves and two fishes that will become in John’s gospel the foundation of this teaching. But it is not something that is new to Scripture.
Jesus the “Christ” is the anointed one
The Apostle’s and Father’s highlight the spiritual meaning and underlying principles found hidden within what was written. It should be pointed out that the Church does not historically dispute the events recorded within all of Scripture, as some began to do during the reformation. The father’s, looking through the lens of apostolic teaching, examined Scripture from an allegoric perspective, that is, they understood the spiritual meaning had to be worked for.
It is possible to hold the Bible at face value, and also glean from it a profound meaning that can only be understood through the unction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus asked, “whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, blessed are thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Old-Testament symbolism using bread
Remember there are two Old-Testament instances where bread is used and given to God’s people. The first is “Manna,” meaning “What is it.” Manna was given to the people of God while they were traversing the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land. For 40 years the manna appeared, and people were sustained by it. The wilderness is where we await the crossing over into the Promised Land, for us that is either the Second Coming or physical death whatever comes first (allegory).
The second is the within the sacrificial system of the Law of Moses. The reading here is super dry, repetitive and tedious. But it is within its dry, repetitive, and tedious nature that the most powerful revelation is born.
When scripture is boring and repetitive pay attention, it is about to reveal something to you.
The law prescribes the ministry of the anointed one, the “Christ.” Each infraction of the law is dealt with through sacrifice based upon its category. Each category prescribes a certain innovation to the ritual (for the purpose of time I will not get into the details). But in all cases of sin the penitent would bring to the tabernacle several offerings, these outward offerings were to be vicarious offerings for the offending member of the community.
The Israelite would bring the prescribed animal: bull, lamb or goat, and also a measure (an ephah) of fine wheat flour. He would wash in the brazen laver, then present his animal sacrifice at the altar of burnt offering, where he would lay his hands upon the victim, confessing his sins before the priest. The victim would then be drained of blood in the prescribed way, quartered, and laid flat upon the alter to be consumed by the fire.
Then, the priest would take from the measure of fine wheat flour a handful of wheat, a handful of oil, and handful of incense and throw it upon the fire as well as a thank offering, called a Eucharist in Greek. The remainder of the fine wheat flour was now given to the high priest and became a part of his reserve. He would later make the flour into cakes to be consumed only by his immediate family. No one else was entitled to this.
In some cases, the fine wheat flour was made into cakes beforehand and the offerer would present the cake to be burned upon the altar with the offering. They offered bread in much the same manner as we do today. But with each sacrificial victim, the fine flour was offered as a thank offering unto the Lord, and the remainder of the flour was given to the priests.
The overall process involved a ritual “wave” offering, which was done for certain types of atonement. The wave offering, according to the Jewish Mishna, would involve the offerer guided by the priest waving the offering before God at right angles. One movement was known as a “heave” and the other a “wave.” This was done with both a portion of the victim, and the thank offering, then the thank offering would be consumed by the offerer with a portion of the victim.
From the Exodus to the feeding of the five thousand to today
So what does this have to do with today’s gospel lesson? One commentator summarizes it as like this: The feeding of the five thousand “parallels the story of the Passover and Exodus of Israel from Egypt in several important ways.
(1) In the Exodus account, God first performed His signs against Pharaoh, then gave instructions on how to be saved at the time of the Passover. In this passage, the multitudes follow Christ because of His signs, and this too takes place at Passover (verse 4).
(2) In the Exodus, the Jews were said to eat unleavened bread because they were hastily driven out of Egypt and had brought no provision for themselves. Here, Jesus feeds the multitudes with earthly bread because they had brought no provisions, having rushed out to see him.
(3) In the Exodus, Moses leads the people across the Red Sea, walking on dry ground in the midst of the water. Here, Christ sends His disciples across the sea and then walks on the sea as if it were dry ground.
(4) In the Exodus, God fed His people manna and gave them drink from a miraculous water source. Here, Christ declares Himself to be true food and drink, the true bread that has come down from heaven.
These parallels demonstrate that Christ our God is the fulfillment of the Old Testament law, and that the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood, which free mankind from the slavery of sin, fulfills the sacrifice of the Passover lambs, which brought the people out of slavery into the Promised Land.” 
The breaking of the loaves prefigures the Eucharist. He took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them. Ultimately, this deliberate action would set the stage for His teaching at the Last Supper, when “he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
We bring a sacrifice of praise and thanks
What all this points to is that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one. He came as a sacrificial offering for the sins of the world that through Him we may have life. He is both priest and victim. We, as His adopted family, are entitled to His portion of holy bread and are required to give thanks to Him, it is our “bounden-duty and service.”
Just as the penitent brings his sacrifice with confession and offers his fine wheat flour as a thank offering so Christ, our Passover, has given himself for us. But now He requires that we partake of His sacrifice—the Eucharist—and through the thank offering which we ourselves bring, here, today. This is true worship, and a fulfillment of the Law through Jesus Christ.
 Sparks, Jack Norman, The Orthodox Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008) p. 1434