Jesus: The Bread of Life
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
16 August 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. John 6:51-69
Well, there Jesus goes again. Another Bread of Life sermon. Will it never end? Typical preacher! Not many of His followers care for the forevermore Bread of Life sermon. Not one bit. Gripe about preacher Jesus and His preaching. Verbally quarreling among themselves about the content of this Bread of Life sermon.
Too scandalous! Very distasteful! The mega congregation does not have ears to hear it. Hands turn to fists. Teeth start to grind. Feet start to stomp.
At then end of the sermon the majority of His disciples, “turn their backs, leave, and no longer follow him.” Jesus even speaks of the one who would betray Him and those who do not believe in Him.
What did preacher Jesus say in the sermon that was so scandalous? So offensive?
It’s this. He authoritatively claims to be the “living bread come down from heaven.” He audaciously proclaims that this bread is His “flesh that will give for the life of the world.” That’s Good Friday. Quite an audacious assertion!
He wasn’t done. Typical preacher. He doesn’t stop. There’s more. Check it out. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you.” Whoa! Had enough? Bread of Life Jesus still isn’t ready to quit preaching. He keeps piling promise upon promise. Listen. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
Good grief! Sermons like that are what get preachers fired! Jesus must be out of His mind to proclaim something like this from the pulpit. Is He serious? If He is then it’s time to have a special meeting with all the church authorities and demand His resignation!
After all, with this sermon He’s scattering the flock. People are leaving in droves! Look at how many disciples have dropped Him like a bad habit! They can’t stand to hear sermons like this anymore! He started with a mega church of 5,000 at the beginning of chapter six and now He’s down to only twelve! And even one of the twelve will be the devil’s instrument to betray Him. Such hemorrhaging membership stats are enough proof that Pastor Jesus should be defrocked immediately! Or perhaps crucified!
Inviting people to eat His flesh and drink His blood? That’s not just disturbing. It’s extremely dangerous! Better hide the women and the children from such a preacher! Someone call the police! Pastor Jesus should be put in a pink cell with cushioned walls and stuffed in a straight jacket. Or perhaps crucified!
Are you offended too? Are His words too hard for you? Too outrageous? Ready to call it quits with this Jesus? Do you want to leave too? Then Jesus says: “you have no life in you.”
Or will you trust Him? Can you trust a Jesus who preaches a sermon that appears to go way too far? I ask you that because the answer to this question is a matter of life – or death! Eternal life – or eternal death!
Peter steps up to the plate. He answers for the twelve. His answer is your answer. It goes like this: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
You and the twelve will be given to. Trusting that what Jesus says is exactly what He gives.
No wonder. After all, Jesus is THE SACRIFICE that atones for the sin of the world. He offers up His Body on the cross. He sheds His Blood on the tree. He gives His life for your life. He is the substitute sacrifice – the vicarious Victim. To pay the price for your rebellion against God. To make peace between God and all of us.
Consequently, His promise is FOR YOU: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. THIS BREAD IS MY FLESH which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus’ flesh is indeed real food. His blood is real drink. His Body and Blood were given into death for your salvation on His very Good Friday cross. Now, today, in the Sacrament of the Altar Jesus hand feeds and nourishes you with His Good Friday-Bread-of-Life-body-and-blood with the bread and wine. And with His Bread of Life Body and Blood comes His promise that your sin is forgiven. All of it! The whole enchilada of your sin! Answered for! By Him!
How do you know that? Well, He says so! His words of promise are Spirit and they are life! “Take this bread and eat it; it is My body. Drink from this cup. It is the new testament in My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus’ promise to you today at the Sacrament is that, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.” His Body and His Blood given FOR YOU to eat and drink for the forgiveness of your sin provides you gifts for the long haul: eternal life and the resurrection of the body. He says so. Listen again: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.”
In addition, His Holy Spirit-filled and life-giving words give even more. His bounty overflows. Listen. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” It’s a Holy CO-Union. A Holy Communion! Jesus is not far away. He abides in you and you abide with Him. He is in your mouths and in your hearts as you eat His Body and drink His Blood in the Sacrament! And your bodies then are temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Epistle’s exhortation to “be filled with the Spirit” comes about as you hear Jesus’ words and receive in faith what His words promise. After all, His words are Spirit and they are life.
So, we’re back to the big question. “Do you want to leave too?” Of course you don’t.
Your words are Peter’s words: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
And the words of eternal life are these: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
In the Name of Jesus.