John 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets,
‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors 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. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….
So far, in John’s New Testament,
Jesus has stirred lots of excitement:
Jesus has been followed by huge crowds.
He’s challenged the Temple authorities.
He’s kind of bent the rules.
But, the risk of following Jesus,
has probably seemed pretty small.
And then, all of a sudden, he starts saying some weird stuff:
“I am the … the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever …the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
How were people supposed to react to that, 2000 years ago?
How are we supposed to react today?
What is the “bread of life”?
In a little while we will share the Holy Eucharist.
We call that the bread of life. And it surely is!
We say that we are all called to share in the Eucharist.
And we are. Our eligibility rules aren’t too high:
You need only be a baptized Christian.
For us, the Eucharist can be sort of a semi-passive process.
We pray, we sing, we come up and receive.
Is that all that Jesus asks of us?
Is that as far as the Bread of Life goes?
You know…. I don’t think so.
I think that’s just part of what Jesus meant.
Over the past two and half years,
You’ve all heard me mention my Mom. Poor old Okie gal.
She had a boatload of challenges in her 93 years.
It was pretty hard being her eldest son.
As a very young man, I probably carried too heavy a load.
But, with time and work,
I can look back. I can see that my Mom also helped me.
Mom loaded me down, because she had confidence in me.
That helped me have confidence in myself.
Even if I was hungry and exhausted – and I was – a lot,
my spirit and my confidence
were nourished, and sustained.
My Mother’s love and faith in me, fed me. They kept me going.
I was a confused former Catholic seminarian,
But Mom’s faith in me was a kind of bread of life.
Over the years, I’ve been fed in the joy of my marriage,
to the finest woman I’ve ever known.
I’ve been fed in the joy of holding my two baby girls,
as they looked at me and smiled.
These gifts are also the bread of life.
Jesus is the bread of life. Not just in the sacrament.
But in knowing that his love, and his concern for us,
is without bounds.
As Jesus loves us, and is our daily bread,
so must we be for others. Every day.
Not just those who we are comfortable with,
but also those with whom we aren’t comfortable at all.
Jesus went to the cross to show us how to be that bread,
So that we can also help feed those who are hungry.
Back in Jesus’ day, he had lots of stuff to deal with.
One of his biggest challenges was that, socially speaking,
he was a nobody from a long line of nobodies.
The Temple elite were aghast and upset when
“Mr. Nobody from Nazareth” said
“I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
The Temple crew surely knew that God feeds us all.
But they also knew Jesus’ mom and dad.
They know where he was from.
A strange kid from Nazareth,
even if he had good memory for Scripture,
simply couldn’t be anybody’s bread from heaven.
I’ve worked with the Enneagram.
I’ve studied George Gurdgieff, Sigmund Freud,
Carl Jung and Bob Dylan.
I’ve studied with Catholics, Evangelicals and Mennonites.
African Anglicans and even Episcopalians.
I learned that everybody shares the same challenge:
We know what we want to know, before we even know it.
We know what we want to know, before we even know it!
That was the Temple leader’s problem 2000 years ago,
And that’s our problem today.
Remember the old Hymn about Jesus:
“And he walks with me and he talks with me.
And he tells me I’m his own.”
We are all his own. And that’s why he feeds us.
And Jesus’ loving hand is over the whole world.
Red. Brown. Yellow, Black and White.
Left. Right or just taking a long nap.
Jesus feeds us with his bread.
The food that nourishes both the Spirit, and the body.
And Jesus calls us to feed others, too.
Following Jesus can be a real pain in the neck.
That’s for sure. Jesus told us so.
It’s hard when Jesus reminds us that what we want,
and what God, wants don’t always match up.
John Wesley preached that dead religion was no religion.
And a religion without bread is dead.
Go in peace. No matter who you are, or where you are.
Be the bread that Jesus is calling you to be.