This is the Bread of Life, a time in this church year consisting of five Sundays.
Jesus teaches the masses, including us, about our need for bread and how he is the ultimate bread that sustains us for the long haul. Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the grace of God that carries us from one day into the next.
It is not an easy lesson (due to Holy Communion implications) and the crowd cannot embrace it, but this morning is only the beginning.
We are missing a small portion of scripture between Sunday (God Provides) and today.
On Sunday, Jesus fed the 5,000 people with 3 fishes and 5 loaves of bread. It was not nearly enough to feed the crowd, but abundantly the remaining fragments of bread filled 12 baskets. It is one of Jesus’ most infamous and beloved miracles showing God’s abundance.
The crowd had been physically hungry. The crowd had been fed.
The crowd existed in a time of social and political unrest. It was unpleasant.
The crowd would have been desperate and among the poorest of the poor.
The missing scripture is that the crowd responded:
“Ah ha! We got our fill of bread. We got our need met by this miracle worker.
If we give him the title of “King”, making him our leader,
we will have the ability to manipulate him to continue performing these miracles for us.”
Does this sound healthy? Probably not.
The idea that with a given title an individual can be manipulated was not ‘new’.
Jesus, however, had no interest in being such a king.
Jesus flees and crosses to the other side of the sea escaping their efforts.
This is the point where we return to the scriptures.
The crowd, those who were the hungry 5000 fed, have found Jesus. These persons are struggling to understand why Jesus does not desire to become their king (in that sense).
Jesus informs the crowd that they have it all wrong.
We have it all wrong.
It is not about the physical hunger and bread. It is not about the manna.
It is not about the miracles and the signs.
It is about embracing the true Bread from Heaven, the true Living Bread of Life.
It is about embracing that bread which will sustain you not simply physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually… your entire being.
The crowd asks ‘where can we get this bread of life’.
Jesus responds, ‘I am the Bread of Life’ and continues asking only for faith (trust) in return. He desires our trust in his teachings, in this journey, and in our relationship with him to sustain us.
But, how does the crowd (and us) respond?
‘Jesus, you want our trust? You want us to believe in you?
Ok, BUT first what miracles will you perform to prove that we should?
Yea, you just fed the crowd but what OTHER miracles will you do for me?
So that I can have trust in you.”
Although this response might be our default, it is not how we are called to respond.
Previously I have shared that at age 15 I begun to struggle with several female specific medical conditions. My godfather informed me that:
“If you pray hard enough for Jesus to heal/cure you,
one night you will have a vision of Jesus telling you to come see me.
If you come see me, we will pray together and Jesus will heal/cure you completely.”
IF I pray hard enough demanding Jesus cures/heals me.
IF I have enough faith/trust then Jesus will cure/heal me.
What happens when I am not physically (and miraculously) healed?
Do I walk away from Jesus?
Can Jesus remain my King? my Teacher? my Savior?
OR do I come to the realization that Jesus is not my errand boy? (Countdown Video)
OR do I come to the realization that Jesus is not my cabana boy? (Seminary Professor)
Jesus, do THIS. Jesus, get THIS for me.
Again, Jesus is not our Cabana Boy! Jesus is not at our beckon call.
Our faith/trust in Jesus the Christ should not be based upon our demands being met.
The true Bread of Life is God’s Grace abundant enough to sustain us through all that life throws at us… whether or not the end result is the miracle or sign we desired.
As we journey through this Bread of Life summer, let us ponder our reason for following Jesus:
- What is the nature of our quest for a relationship with Jesus the Christ?
- What determines our faith/trust, or lack thereof, in Jesus the Christ?
- Does the knowledge of God’s grace experienced in the waters of Baptism and the elements of Bread and Wine in Holy Communion sustain us?
- Are we simply awaiting the miracles and signs that Jesus can perform for us?
- What is the nature of our Quest? Why seek relationship with Jesus the Christ?
May we all be sustained in the Bread of Life. Amen.
Scriptures were Exodus 16: 2-4, 9-15 and John 6: 24-35.
Originally preached Aug. 5, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).