Pastor Simek The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost at Hope, Jerseyville 8/5/18 “Bread of Life”
Sermon Text: John 6:22-35
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Victory. Gospel victory. The Gospel prevailing and winning the victory at every turn in the face of every opposition. Jesus feeding 5,000 men and additional women and children with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. That is a man I want to follow. But why do we follow him and what are we seeking and wanting by following him? In the Gospel reading today, the answer is bread. They met a man who fed thousands with very little. They ate their fill of the loaves and were satisfied last night, but now it’s breakfast, maybe lunch time, and they are hungry again, so they follow Jesus looking for more bread. They get in their boats and cross the sea searching for Jesus because they want more food. They seek food that fills bellies and leaves them empty again, food that perishes. But Jesus isn’t about to play their game. He’s not going to just continue to fill their bellies, even if that would make him extremely popular. Jesus is not here for your belly. That is not who he is. Instead…
JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE WHO GIVES LIFE TO THE WORLD.
(I. We labor for food that perishes.)
(II. Jesus is the food that gives eternal life.)
Nevertheless, those people are pretty determined to fill their bellies. They get in their boats and sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They find Jesus and try to convince him to give the more food. They are willing to work for it, asking, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Or in other words, “What do we have to do for you to get more bread?” And when Jesus simply says “believe,” they want to know why they should believe. “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?”
And they make a suggestion, they lay before him and idea, a sign that he could do that they would believe, give us more bread. If you’re from God, like Moses was from God, well Moses fed people for forty years. You could feed us for forty years and then we would believe in you. And again, they seek Jesus not for Jesus, but for themselves and their own bellies. They are smart, devious, and manipulative in the way the try to fill their bellies. Like the student who puts more effort into cheating on a test to get an “A” than if he had just studied for the test. They seek and labor for the food that perishes.
Thanks be to God we are not like those foolish sinners, huh? Or are we? We certainly labor for food that perishes, and that is understandable, at least to some extent. We do have to eat, and to eat, we have to be able to buy food so we need money, and to get money, we have to work, and labor for food that will fill our bellies and will leave it again. That is just a part of life.
But look at the sacrifices and labor we make and go through to fill our bellies. We work, how many jobs for how many hours a week. We spend time working and laboring when we could be doing things we enjoy like spending time with our families, our friends, our hobbies, or just a little time to ourselves. And not only do we spend our time, but we spend our money to make money. We go through schooling, community college or a four year college, maybe even pursue degrees after that potentially driving us into serious debt so that we can get a job and fill our bellies and have every desire of our hearts. We labor for food and satisfaction that perishes.
And I’m not saying we ought not go to work or pursue higher education. There is no sin in that, but when we are so concerned with looking at our own bellies and worried about filling them that we do not see the Bread of Life standing right before us, we are in trouble. When we so quickly, willingly, and voluntarily sacrifice whatever is necessary to fill our belly with food that perishes, yet continue to say no to serving the Bread of Life and serving in his house, what are we doing? When the groans of our mortal flesh for food, or sleep, or leisure drown out and silence our need for forgiveness, we are lost to that which perishes. When we will spend hours memorizing the states and their capitals or the Presidents of the United States or the history of nations who have perished in order to graduate, but memorizing the Small Catechism or Scripture, the Word of the Lord that does not pass away but endures forever, is just too great, when we will spend an hour watching the news of people who have perished or are perishing, but not an hour studying the Bible, we are destined to perish. Is it easier for you to find the right tv channel than the Gospel of John? If we were to compare the time you spend laboring for things that perish and the time you spend laboring for the food that endures to eternal life, would you be ashamed of the way you spend your time?
Thanks be to God that our salvation is not determined by a measuring scale of our time, that what saves us is not having more hours spent on the side of eternal things than on the side of perishable things. Thanks be to God that to be doing the works of God is not sacrificing everything that we are and everything that we have for the Bread of Life, but is believing in him who was sent to sacrifice everything that he has and everything that he is for us.
He sacrificed His throne in heaven to be enthroned in a virgin’s womb. He sacrificed his eternal immortality and took on mortal flesh. He sacrificed the fullness of his divine glory, humbling, humiliating himself as he hid his unlimited power in human skin and bones. He sacrificed even that very body and blood for you upon the cross to make up for every moment you have been more concerned about the bread that perishes than the bread of eternal life.
And despite your continued care and concern for the things of this world, he comes to you to be your bread from heaven which endures to eternal life. He is your forgiveness. He is your salvation. He is your eternal life as he took his life up again to give you a throne, an immortal flesh, an honor and power and kingdom with him. He is your bread from heaven that you would never hunger nor thirst again for all eternity.
So we pray with those misguided Israelites, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Yet we also pray, “Our Father, give us this day our daily bread.” And we know, as Luther teaches in his Small Catechism, that “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” We trust that God will provide daily bread for us on account of the eternal bread of his Son, and we give thanks for daily bread that perishes and for eternal bread that endures.
We give thanks and give back, not sacrificing of ourselves that which belongs to us, but returning and spreading the gifts which God gives to us through Christ, the gifts that truly belong to him in the first place. We give back to God that which we he has given to us and we give to our neighbor both the food that perishes and the food that endures for God’s food and his gifts will never run out. His gifts, his bread, his Son is eternal, and through him you have eternal life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.