“JESUS IS SERVED”
John 6:35-51 (Pentecost 11)
Sunday August 8, 2021
Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr
Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is the Gospel lesson from John 6 that was just proclaimed.
Dearest Jesus: Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that you not only provide food for our body and earthly life but you are also THE BREAD the gives forgiveness and eternal life!! You serve us with you in Divine Service. Amen.
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:
When I was growing up, my grandmother would make the best homemade bread, specifically her buns or dinner rolls. When we would get together, the wonderful aroma would stand out as we first passed through the kitchen and into the living room. These rolls had a rich buttery yet sweet taste.
I would want one before the meal while it was still warm, but that didn’t happen as I was told, “It will spoil your appetite!” (guess that generation didn’t believe in appetizers).
The reason these rolls were so good was that they were baked and shared in love. My grandmother put a lot of herself into it, so to speak—nothing less than herself.
So it is with Jesus.
When Jesus Gives Us the Bread of Life,
He Gives Us Himself.
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ ” (v 35). Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the source of true and genuine life: He goes on:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (v 51).
This is “cross” talk. Jesus gave nothing less than his life, on a cross, for the life of the world. And this is “faith” talk. To “eat the bread of life” is an act of faith. It’s believing in Jesus.
“This is the will of my Father,” says Jesus, “that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (v 40).
When Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, he told his sisters, Martha and Mary: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn 11:25–26).
Homemade bread is so much better than store-bought bread. Life with “the bread of life” is so much better than life without Jesus. It’s not just a matter of quantity. It’s not just that it’s eternal. It’s also a matter of quality.
It’s not just more of the “same old, same old” that we may be experiencing or going through now. It’s not just more of what’s corrupted by sin. It’s not just more of what’s broken and heartbreaking. It’s not just more death and what’s threatened by death. It’s new; it’s different. Jesus has put himself into it. He loves us! God loves us! God forgives us! God’s got us!
Life with Jesus is far more than life that is here today and gone tomorrow. Life with Jesus is far more than what we can touch and taste. Far more than what we have. Far more than what makes us feel good or bad. Far more than the working out of our hopes and dreams—or not.
The people in our text to whom Jesus was speaking still had the taste of the barley loaves and fish in their mouths, the barley loaves and fish with which Jesus had miraculously fed them. They were remembering the manna with which God fed their ancestors in the wilderness.
What they weren’t remembering was that their ancestors ate the manna and died. Life is far more than bread and butter. Life is more than our experiences in this world.
God does provide for our physical and material needs. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And Martin Luther reminds us in his explanation of the Lord’s Prayer that “daily bread” is everything we need for this life.
But Jesus came for so much more. He came as the source of eternal life, life with God that is forgiven and forever. Jesus fed the crowd with bread as God fed his people Israel in the wilderness with manna.
Jesus did this as a sign, to make a point; the same point God made for his Old Testament people in the wilderness: “He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3).
Jesus is that Word. He is “the living bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51). Today’s Psalm invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34:8). In Jesus, we are able to know and experience God. Fullness of life. Closeness to and intimacy with God that is otherwise impossible.
Our brokenness, sin, guilt, and shame corrupt our relationship with God. Death breaks it forever. Jesus went to a cross for us. He suffered and died for us. He rose from the dead. He lives. He forgives. He restores our relationship with God. Now and forever.
“This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (v 39). “That I should lose nothing!” In speaking of himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn 10:27–28).
We can’t be any more secure than that. And yet, “the Jews grumbled about” Jesus (Jn 6:41). Their “grumbling” recalls the constant, stiff-necked, faithless “grumbling” of the people of Israel against God in the wilderness.
And it recalls the attitude of Jesus’ hometown people in the synagogue at Nazareth when they rejected him.
Do we grumble? Grumbling is essentially refusing to believe in Jesus—wanting something different than he gives or, worse, someone different than he is—and, thereby losing out on the life he does give.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Jesus is the bread of life. He feeds us in the Word. When we are affirmed, forgiven in the Words of Absolution, Jesus takes away all that stands against us, all that stands between us and God, all that separates us from God.
Jesus feeds us in the Sacrament. When we gather around his Table, we receive nothing less than himself. In the bread of his Supper, we receive nothing less than his body broken for us. In the wine, we receive nothing less than his blood shed for us, for the forgiveness of sins.
Paul reminds us of this life in his Letter to the Ephesians. He says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him” (Eph 2:4–6, emphasis added).
Recalling our Baptism, he says, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and . . . be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and . . . put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. . . . Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 4:22–24; 5:1–2, emphasis added).
“A fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Not unlike fragrant, homemade bread, prepared and baked in love, served and shared in love, with a lot of the baker herself put into it. Jesus is the “bread of life.” He feeds us, nourishes and sustains us in life eternal . . . by giving himself for life that is in himself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.