Pentecost 1118 (PR 13)– “Jesus the True Bread of Life!” Jon 6:22-35
Pentecost 1118 (PR 13)– “Jesus the True Bread of Life!” Jon 6:22-35
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
The text for our sermon meditation is taken from the Gospel account of St John, the 6th Chapter:
“26Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.””
So far the reading.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
There is a saying, “Bread is the staff of life.” Apart from being a good source of carbs, and a great vehicle for butter, this proverb tells us bread is of utmost importance to life. When we consider bread we know that we refer to things that are necessary. We will even name other things as bread because they are so important if not necessary for life. Growing up we called money “bread.” Today money may also be named after its movie name, “dead presidents.” Regardless, money is necessary for the support and care of your life.
Jesus takes the people who come to him on a journey through the necessity of bread. He uses bread in the term of necessary food for life. He speaks in this way because the people had just the day before been fed with bread and fish. Jesus multiplied this earthly food to meet their physical needs and stave off bodily hunger in the crowd that gathered at his feet.
Mindful of the miracle that Jesus performed to their benefit, the crowd seeks Jesus. They search Capernaum for Jesus, hoping to receive more of what they had eaten yesterday. When they meet Jesus, he takes them to task for not discerning what they really received from His hands. Jesus took the fish and the bread blessed it and distributed it to the people until they were fully satisfied. Their bellies were stuffed but their hearts were wanting. Jesus warns them to seek something more than earthly food, earthly bread. Earthly food is good for the day, but there is much more needed for life in the kingdom of God.
How often we forget this very truth. Like the People who search for Jesus, we have a very truncated view of what we truly need from him. We come to Jesus with our wants and our expectations and our limits on what we will do. But we expect Jesus to give us the moon. Why is this so? It is so because we are not satisfied with bread. We want gravy, sides and all the trimmings as well.
How many people are satisfied with a McDonald’s Happy Meal? We have become accustomed to getting more than a thin hamburger patty on a bun with a few fries and small drink. We want super-size rather than heart healthy. We want stimulation and distraction rather than peace and contentment. We want style rather than substance. We want to be entertained rather than having to think. We want to avoid what is necessary rather than confronting what is needed and following a Godly and God-pleasing path.
Jesus is quick to address the needs of those who come to him. The Great Physician that He is, Jesus discerns the needs and diagnosis’ intentions of those who question Him. Hear Jesus’ diagnosis and prescription.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
What the people do not realize nor understand is the purpose for the miracles which Jesus accomplished among them. Jesus came to establish the messianic Kingdom of God. In that Kingdom, sinners receive restoration and forgiveness, peace and contentment. Such things are gifts of God to penitent sinners who seek the Son of Man who distributes such gifts of God. Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish to the people as a sign that the Messianic Kingdom of God was present in this Son of Man. He stands before the Father in Heaven and before sinners to be the Mediator of the New Covenant. God placed in the hands of the Son of Man all power in heaven and on earth to redeem and restore that which was lost, and bring eternal blessings to those who truly seek eternal life.
Many times we will overlook the signs of God’s grace and mercy as did the people who came to Jesus on the shore of the Tiberius Sea. They overlooked the healings and the multiplying of bread and fish to feed 15000 people, seeking something different from what was given to them. They were in effect saying to Jesus, “What proof do you have that you are so great a person to make such promises? Moses fed us mana in the wilderness. What greater miracle will you do?”
What these people fail to see, and we as well fail to see, is the giver of mana in the wilderness and bread on the mountain side. More than that, Jesus is the true staff of life in that he is life and gives life to all. Even more than that, Jesus gives His life for the life of the world. This is why he calls himself the living bread from heaven. The source of life and health, both physical and spiritual, is from heaven. Heaven is the dwelling place of the God who creates and sustains life. He provides all that is necessary for us to live on this earth in preparation for life in the kingdom yet to come.
To this end our Lord gives ample signs, ample proof, more than enough evidence that he is the One who is the living bread and living water, the bread of heaven and the water of life. What we sinners must do is stop and look at the signs and not pass by them without giving them a thought. How often we witness people not heeding signs. Coming to an intersection that is a four-way stop, how many times have you seen other drivers let you stop while they continue to roll through the intersection? Have you ever gone into a store to buy something and looked all over for the item on the shelf? You ask the store-clerk for help and they point to the shelf directly behind you?
What signs does Jesus use to continue His miraculous supply of life to us? He gives us his life, death and resurrection. These things are not empty boxes but grace-filled gifts for sinners to have and to use for their benefit and life. Jesus has placed them in water, bread and wine. Water to wash away doubt and unbelief. Bread and wine to feed and nourish faith, hope and love. These are not rituals to do periodically. Nor are they good luck charms to manipulate God into giving what we want. These gifts of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are the very means of God to transform hearts and minds to fulfill the work God requires.
What is the work God requires? This question needs to be in the forefront of our thinking. The work God requires is faith in the One who is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. What are you to believe regarding this Bread of Life? He is the One sent by His Father to redeem the world from sin and death. The world will have you believe there are others who were sent by God to proclaim salvation. Yet, what these others teach does not speak of grace, mercy and salvation in the one who gives his life for the world. Rather, they teach salvation by personal goodness or teach no certainty of salvation.
Hinduism, Buddhism and similar religions teach you save yourself by escaping the cycle of life death and rebirth. They teach falsely that your life is an accumulation of good works added to the sum total of good works done in previous lives. When you reach the level of perfection through good works, then you are free from the cycle of reincarnation. Their religion does not know the atonement of Jesus Christ for sins. Nor do they confess Jesus to be true God and Savior.
Islam likewise, gives no certainty of salvation. If their god wills, his followers are brought into paradise when they die. They confess their belief that salvation is not assured and say, “I am saved, if god wills.” Their religion does not know the atonement of Jesus Christ for sins. Nor do they confess Jesus to be True God and Savior.
Jesus clearly encourages sinners to turn to Him in repentance and faith. Acknowledge and believe that Jesus is the “Staff of Life” sent by God the Father to satisfy hungry hearts and thirsty souls with the righteousness that leads to eternal life. You are given to know this Bread of Life and to eat this bread of life by faith in Jesus Christ. In your baptism you were joined to the Bread of Life and given the miracle of faith to look upon your Savior and trust in Him for all needs material and spiritual.
Our Lord spoke of this in one His Beatitudes spoken in His “Sermon on the Mount.” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. In no uncertain words Jesus repeats that encouragement when he says, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” When we look at our lives we are dismayed and doubt that God would ever love us. Lift up your eyes to the cross, the font, the cup and the “Bread”. In these means of grace god will remove your doubt and increase your faith. Eat and drink your Lord and Savior. In Jesus alone is your life and salvation.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen