Apr 13, 2017 – I Am the Bread of Life
I love the bread at Black Angus restaurants. One time when we went there, we sat down and were very hungry. They brought us some of that good bread and we started right in on it. We could dig in and not worry about how it would get paid for. You see somebody else had already paid our bill. We’d been given a gift certificate and so the bill, even before we sat down to eat, had been paid in full. We came hungry and left satisfied enjoying it fully because we knew it was paid in full already. That’s what’s happened for all of us tonight also.
We’ve come here hungry for the renewing of our spirits and we are leaving having been satisfied by the bread of life that Jesus Himself has given to us in Holy Communion.
When Jesus says in the gospel lesson tonight, I Am… the bread of life, he who comes to me will never go hungry, Jesus is saying that He is the only source of nourishment for life. He makes the ‘I am’ statement to tell the disciples and all who follow them, that there is no other source for life. To go anywhere else, to go to anyone else, is to be left with only ashes to feed on, not the true Bread of Life. To choose anything else than what God gives us in sending His Son to us, is to choose death and hunger. We need and long for that which God alone can give to fill us with. Everything else is just dust in our mouth.
You know, we never just eat one meal in our lives and then never have to eat again. We need nourishment constantly. And constant nourishment is what Christ gives us in His body. That’s why He can say to all who come to Him for the bread of life that they will never hunger again.
Remember this event happens early in Jesus ministry, and that just before Jesus says this ego emi tonight, on the other side of the lake the day before, Jesus feeds the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He gave thanks / and gave them / bread. And He didn’t give them just enough so they wouldn’t go hungry, but He gave them more than enough; He provided an abundance of bread. His supply overflowed what they could consume and He gave them so much that they had to carry off the excess in 12 basketfuls!
5000 people stuffed themselves full and still God, through Jesus Christ, supplied more than they could consume. That’s what Jesus is talking about when He says tonight, that anyone that comes to him will never hunger again. Those 12 basketfuls represent to the world the abundance of life that God gives us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We know He will give His life into death on the cross tomorrow for the life of the world – so that the world may know the abundance of God’s love for them.
The bread in the 12 baskets speaks loudly to us of God’s abundance for us. But our only source of the bread of life is Jesus Christ. He is the One, the I Am, the ego emi, who gives His life to be broken on the cross just as He broke the bread and distributed it to the 5000. And that same thing is what He does on this night in the upper room at the Last Supper; where He says those words that fill our desperate need for the nourishment for our lives when He instituted holy communion with, take and eat, this is my body given for you.
Don’t miss also that the people by the sea-shore in today’s reading said to Jesus that their forefathers ate manna in the wilderness. And what does Jesus say in reply to being reminded of the manna from heaven? He says, I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. It was by the abundant grace of God that they were fed. Jesus says I Am the manna, ego emi the bread – Yahweh is the life of the world.
The abundance of God to the world is given to us in the man Jesus Christ. In His flesh, is the life of the world. And that flesh is what He has given to us here tonight to feed on, to be nourished on and to receive the abundance of God through.
We have consumed the forgiveness of God in the flesh of Christ through His body and blood in the bread and wine. Ps 34 tell us that we have, tasted and seen that Lord is good. He is good to us, He is goodness to me and to you. He has given His flesh for the life of the world; He has given Himself into death that we may taste life. And that life cannot be taken from us.
That is why Christ says, He who comes to me will never go hungry. Jesus when He says, I Am the bread of life is making clear that He is Yahweh, the One who fed the forefathers in the wilderness. He is that manna that comes down from above.
And He has come down tonight and fed us also. We go from here, filled with the abundance of God. We also go knowing that when Jesus left the table on the night when He was betrayed, He left that table to go and ‘pay the bill’; ‘in full’ on the cross. Because the great I Am died and rose again, we’ve had all our hunger for the righteousness of God satisfied for us.
The huge cost of our bill; the enormous amount that was required to purchase the righteousness of God / has / been / paid. We’ve been given, by grace through faith alone, eternal life in Christ. So, we live life now, grateful for the abundance of God to us. That abundance has been purchased for you and I by the One who said, I Am the bread of life, he who comes to me will never, never go hungry. Amen.
Sermon #884 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO
First Reading Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Second Reading Hebrews 10:15-22
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Holy Gospel John 6:25-40
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”
32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”