Summary: There is a scene towards the of the film, "The Railway Children" in which Roberta’s father is revealed as the steam from the engine clears so Jesus comes to clear the "steam of sin" to reveal our heavenly Father to us.
In our Gospel reading from John’s Gospel today we read of the famous story of the feeding of the five thousand.
But I would like to focus on one verse this morning: Jn 6:5
5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him,
People flocked to Jesus, he seemed to have the magnetism.
In a society - where there was no social assistance - it was at great cost that people would give up their jobs for days at a time, to come and listen to him.
Such was his pulling power.
There was a feeling of expectation.
Jesus had something fantastic to offer.
Story: This year we celebrate the centenary of the publication of Edith Nesbit’s book “The Railway Children” and it is a great joy to have the Edith Nesbit Society with us this morning.
(at SMM add And after the service, we are going to lay a wreath on Edith Nesbit’s grave.)
Towards the end of the film of the book, The Railway Children, there is a scene win which the children hurry through the countryside to the railway station.
They are expecting some momentous event to occur, but they are not sure what.
When the train comes to a standstill, they see, through the steam pouring out the engine, a figure standing alone.
Roberta, the eldest child, can hardly believe her eyes.
After all this long time without him there he is.
She hurls herself along the platform shouting, "Daddy!"
All her dreams had come true, her faith had been rewarded. Now all her worries could be put on one side.
There he was, at last, her Daddy.
There was no more need to worry about him and his fate, and their family’s future. They would be together again.
Her mother would no longer be lonely, the little children no longer lost without him and Roberta herself would feel secure.
Daddy would make their lives complete.
He would ensure that they never went hungry again and fill the empty space that his absence had created in their hearts and in their lives.
Perhaps in this scene Edith Nesbit was reflecting on the yearning she had for her own father who had died when Edith was very young.
We live in a society with similar longings.
And the first century Jews were no different.
As God’s chosen people they were longing for a Messiah. A messiah who would fulfil their dreams by freeing them from the Roman Oppressor.
The Romans were in Israel because of an earlier dispute over the Jewish Throne in 63 BC. The Roman General Mark Anthony had been asked to settle the matter but instead, the Romans had decided to move in and had been the occupying force for a good 60-70 ears by Jesus time.
And the Jews were longing for a Messiah – a man sent by God to free them from the Roman occupiers.
Just as Roberta had been waiting for her Father
The question that was on everyone’s lips was this
Was Jesus God that anointed one – the Messiah sent to satisfy their needs?
Was he, at last the fulfilment of their dreams?
YES, he was - but not in the way they had expected.
Just as he fed them that day with bread to satisfy their physical hunger, so he came to bring them something far more important than a war of Independence to throw the Romans out
He brought a wonderful gift - something they really needed – the ability to call God “Daddy”.
For the Jews - as with many of us today - God was a distant figure.
Jesus came and brought them into a more intimate relationship – so that they could call God “Abba” – which is an Aramaic word which means “Daddy”
And as our reading from Mt’s Gospel shows us Jesus taught his disciples to be on intimate terms with God in The Lord’s Prayer.
The import of the word that Jesus used as “Our Father in that prayer - Abba – “ might be better translated as “Daddy”
“Daddy” for Roberta - in the scene from the Railway Children to which I alluded earlier - meant
So Jesus brings us to our heavenly Father and we can experience the same things.
We have a broken relationship with God, our Father - because our wrongdoing – our sin that Jesus and his death on the Cross came to mend.
Going back to the scene in the Railway Children to which I referred to earlier, it was the steam from the engine of the train which hid Roberta’s father from her view.
Once that steam evaporated she could see him clearly.
In the same way it is our sin – our wrongdoing- which is like the steam. It hides us our heavenly Father from us.