Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be | glad with her,*
all you who | love her;
that you may feed and be | satisfied*
with the consolation of her | bosom. (Isaiah 66:10-11)
I was glad when they | said to me,*
“Let us go into the house | of the LORD.”
Our feet have been | standing*
within your gates, O Je- | rusalem!
Pray for the peace of Je- | rusalem:*
“May they prosper who | love you.”
For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will | now say,*
“Peace be with- | in you.” (Psalm 122:1-2, 6, 8)
Laetare means “Rejoice!” That’s an interesting name for a Sunday in Lent, isn’t it? Isn’t Lent all about sorrow over sin and repentance? Isn’t it all about Jesus’ suffering? Yes, and that’s the point. In the Introit, we say, “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom.” (Isaiah 66:10-11)
This rejoicing is given to those who are poor and contrite over their sin, trembling at God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2). As we tremble at Word of God — a true fear that the Spirit teaches us (Isaiah 11:2) — we are comforted and therefore rejoice in the consolation of the Church of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem. The Church of Christ is his beloved bride whom he bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25-26). He has given her his Word, which alone gives eternal life (John 6:68). Therefore, as we meditate upon our sins, we have every reason to rejoice, because our hungry souls are satisfied by the bread of life, Jesus Christ, who earned forgiveness and salvation for us.
And this relates to our Gospel lesson. By feeding the multitudes with only five loaves of bread and two fish, he reveals himself to be God, who provides for our every need. He satisfies us with physical nourishment. But Jesus also teaches us to seek all good things first in the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). That is to say, when we first know Jesus as our Savior from sin who credits to us his very righteousness (Rom 4:5), then we learn to trust God for all other things. This was the test that Jesus was giving his disciples. He was testing their faith — that they would depend upon his Word that delivers to them righteousness, life, and rejoicing. And so God tests us. He provides for our every need, and yet he tries our faith that we would depend only on his Word for our true comfort and joy. And we find this Word preached in his Jerusalem — his Church — where we may “feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom.”