“Our Living Bread” John 6:35-51
The 12th Sunday after Pentecost (B) 8/12/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL
It has been said many times that one of the great benefits and blessings of the lectionary of our Lutheran Church, both the three year and the one-year series, is the continuity and connection between and among the readings of Holy Scripture. This is true regarding the readings on any given Sunday as well as the readings many times from Sunday to Sunday.
I say this because once again we see how today’s Gospel text comes on the heals of last Sunday’s and what Pastor Meyer preached about. Namely, our Lord showing Himself to truly be the Messiah, the Savior of the Word… and this, in Word and deed.
Mighty in Word and deed, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand and how news spread about this Jesus… how the people followed Him… pursued Him… but many, for the wrong reason.
We heard our Lord say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do 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.” (John 6:26-27)
They… the people then… were more concerned about the physical and the worldly than the spiritual and the heavenly. They were more concerned about their temporal life, their daily life and the filling of their stomachs, then on eternal life and the FULL-FILLING of all of their needs physical and eternal… now… and forevermore.
Too many times, my friends… in too many ways… we are no different… no better. We do the same. We like to think otherwise, but the truth is we, so easily, get wrapped up with the worldly and on physical things… on self-preservation.
We can, so easily, be concerned… worried even… if not where our next meal will come from, then on future meals and our future life… on what tomorrow will bring.
Yes, we pray to the Lord to give us our “daily bread,” but this is done in the blessed assurance and in full trust that God will graciously provide the same. Yes, bread for our stomachs, but also… far greater… bread for our souls.
In Christ, we need not worry… ever… about anything! We need not focus on our own flesh, but rather to consider and rejoice in what is ours in very flesh of the Son of God… He who is true God and true Man, our Savior, Jesus.
He who speaks to us in today’s Gospel text about His holy flesh… His true Body… His real, actual Body, the same Body once wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. The same Body that walked this earth, going from city to city, town to town, village to village preaching the Good News. Yes, the same Body, holy and divine, that hung on the cross at Calvary.
This Body, His Body, Christ calls the “Bread of Life.” Make no mistake about it. It far more than a mere metaphor or euphemism. It is real. The Bread – real. His Body in, with and under the Bread – real… really present!
And what is more, what this Bread delivers, what Christ’s Body delivers, gives and bestows to you and me is real, wonderfully real. Namely eternal life.
Unlike the manna given to the children of Israel to eat throughout their sojourn to the promised land, Christ here offers, now offers a far greater sustenance to all who are the “new Israel” … all who believe and confess His holy name.
Our Lord declares, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.” (John 6:48-51)
The Bread… His Body… His very Flesh given for the life of the world right there… on the cross… from whence comes, from whence flows the holy food and drink, the Blessed Supper of Christ’s Body and Blood.
Is it any wonder that the sign of the cross is made as the Words of Institution are spoken over the simple elements of bread and wine and what they become?
Is it any wonder that the sign of the cross is made by many as they receive this sacred and salutary food into their mouths? As they consider:
- The fact that they have just taken in the very antidote for eternal death.
- The fact that in this Blessed Meal they are truly in communion, in union… one with their living Lord and Savior. He who is the Alpha and Omega… the Beginning and the End… the King of the Universe.
- The fact that in this Supper they are in communion, in union, one with their fellow believers to the left and right of them at the chancel rail, but also one with all the saints here on earth and all who reside in heavenly bliss awaiting the great and final day that is so close at hand.Rejoice! All this is ours my friends, by a living faith in Jesus… ours, by a living faith, full faith in what we partake of in this Blessed Sacrament.
Rejoice! You are the Lord’s own. Did you hear what He declares in our Gospel text?
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And 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. For this is the will of my Father, 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.” (John 6:37-40)
Raise you up on the last day! Raise me up on the last! Raise all who believe… all who confess Jesus Christ… He who truly is our Living Bread! Amen!