John 6:47-51 “(Jesus said) I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Many years ago there was a party of engineers who got lost in the jungles of South America. Though they had run out of food, they were able to satisfy their hunger with bright red berries, which grew everywhere in abundance. But when a search party found the men several weeks later, all were dead. No, the berries weren’t poisonous; they were just absolutely worthless as food. The men just gradually starved to death, with their stomachs full!
What was true for their physical lives is even truer today in people’s spiritual lives. WHAT ARE THE RED BERRIES OF YOUR LIFE? It is quite easy to fill up our lives with work and overtime hours, hobbies and entertainment, recreation and even family activities. We can become so busy that there is no time for the Word of God in our daily, very busy lives. We may feel “full,” especially “stressed out,” and yet be spiritually starving to death even though our lives are so “full!”
Jesus seeks to rescue and feed us as He says: “I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:50-51)
But this goes beyond our understanding …beyond our human experience. It goes against our rational thinking. Notice how the Jews in Jesus’ day “began to grumble about Him… saying, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say, ‘I came down from heaven?’” (v.41) Is this also why people today continue to doubt and refuse to believe? They were familiar with Jesus because they had heard about Him from Sunday School, VBS, church songs, etc. But it was only a passing acquaintance. They knew Him as they knew other “Bible heroes,” like Abraham, Moses and David; but they never truly knew Jesus / saving faith in Jesus / which involves much more time and a relationship.
Notice that when the Jews grumbled about Jesus’ teaching, Jesus didn’t say: “Here, I can prove to you that I really came down from heaven” – although He certainly could have, and then He could have done some wonderful sign to prove it. The use of logic or arguments will never “feed” a person with “The Bread of Life.” Instead, Jesus shows us how the Good News of the Gospel is the “power of God” – Jesus answered: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him… It is written in the prophets; ‘They will be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me.” (v.44-45)
Jesus uses “eating bread” as a means of describing how this “Bread of Life” is given and received. He says, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the Bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (v.47-51a)
Jesus spoke these words to some of the 5,000 people who had been fed from the little boy’s lunch of five small loaves and two fish. The next day they were hungry again. They wanted Jesus to be their “bread king” – NOT the “living bread from heaven” that He wants to give, but the “bread” / “things” of this world – to fill up their stomachs, NOW. They just wanted ONE PETITION in the Lord’s Prayer: “give us this day our daily bread” – “everything that belongs to the support and needs of the earthly body.” But Jesus gave us seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer – only one which reminds us that our earthly “daily bread” comes from His gracious hand. The other six seek to “feed” us by His “holy name,” His “coming Kingdom,” His will and forgiveness; His power over temptations and the evil in our lives.
Every day Jesus offers us Himself, the Bread of Life, through His Holy Word. Don’t be like that group of men in the jungles of South America, filling up on the worthless “red berries” that this world offers. Instead, each day, “Take and Eat” of Jesus, the Real Food for life now and forever. Use a Portals of Prayer, or a devotional book / we are blessed with LOTS of TECHNOLOGY – something to guide you through a Bible reading and prayer. For Jesus promises that whoever “eats” of this “Bread of Life” – “he will live forever” – he passes unharmed through physical death and enters into eternal life in heaven. May Jesus, the Bread of Life, strengthen and preserve you (and me) in the true faith unto life everlasting.
Looking forward to “feasting” with you this weekend as we gather again to receive God’s Word and Sacraments together as a congregation.