Posted on Tue, Aug 11, 2015
John 6:35, 41-51
August 9, 2015
11th Sunday after Pentecost
Gospel Text: John 6:35, 41-51 - “Let the Lowly HEAR and REJOICE!!” or "Don't Think Too Much"
35 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42 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”?’ 43 Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. 44 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. 45 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. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’
Some people complain that, in my preaching, I don’t tell the church exactly what to do like a general. If I did tell everyone exactly what to do, what would happen to the gift of wondering and discerning how God is working through each one of us, and as a Body of Christ? Last week I left you with three points:
This sounds like a good list, maybe even an insightful list for us to remember each day. Personally, I need to be reminded of the third point over and over each and every day, because sometimes I am too blind because of my own expectation of what I expect to see every day, not opening my eyes, ears and heart to see God doing amazing things each day. If I go into each day with expectations rather than a sense of wonder, I miss the “God moments.”
And then there is the truth that each point is nice and even tolerable, until there is a tragedy like another senseless shooting, plane crash, cancer, or any of our fears… and then we feel that God is silent, or maybe doesn’t even care… then, the three truths previously mentioned may even be degraded to naïve, if not ridiculous… and we become so disenfranchised, that we find the church and her message silly or even intolerable.
Maybe this is what happened to the crowd in today’s text when they were listening to Jesus. 35 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
We have been hearing a lot about bread in our texts recently, and since we know the end of the story, we kind of have an understanding what Jesus means by saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” But put yourself in the sandals of the people listening to Jesus on that day. They know too much about Jesus past to have a clue as to what He is talking about. Or, at least they ‘think’ they know too much about Jesus’ true identity. ‘He’s not bread, he is a man, he is not from heaven, he is from Nazareth…’ we all KNOW this!
From the very first words Jesus spoke, they were confused …the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were confused not because of the metaphor about bread, but about what Jesus speaks about His true identity, “I… came down from heaven.” They had to process what he said, word for word, in light of what they ‘knew’ about Jesus that they couldn’t even hear the full meaning of Jesus’ message.
I can just hear the crowd muttering, “Did he just say he came down from heaven? ... Isn’t this the son of the Carpenter Joseph and Mary? …(Still pondering) He didn’t come from heaven, he came from Nazareth! Nazareth is nice but comparing it to heaven is a little bit of a stretch!”
The Judeans also knew their scripture, after Jesus says He is the Bread of Life, the Bread come down from Heaven, and they pointed out that Moses gave their ancestors manna in the desert. He gave them bread to eat. But Jesus corrects them in reminding them that it was not Moses but God who provided bread, or manna, for their ancestors…
Again, they thought they knew the about “bread from heaven,” and when it was given to their ancestors… How could Jesus be that bread from heaven? He is from Nazareth… And God has already given it to our ancestors’ way back in Moses’ day, a little before Jesus’ day, and besides he is the son of the carpenter! It looks like they were blinded by what they thought they knew about Jesus, rather than the Truth that they were hearing spoken to Jesus right in their presence. And these Judeans also know the law. "The Lord God said, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods.’" Jesus description of himself gets very close to violating this text in their minds.
Maybe they know too much. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. You know the statement, “I already know the truth, don’t disturb me with the facts!”?
Do you think anyone took anything away from Jesus’ message for them on that day? Again, imagine yourself as a Judean who has known Jesus for twenty years or more, you might have studied for your Bar Mitsvah together, and with a straight face you hear Jesus say, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’” And all you can think to yourself is… “Jesus, what are you talking about? Maybe you haven’t had enough bread today and you are a little light headed…”
They were blinded by what they were certain they knew, and therefore they were stuck with that certainty, as your only truth.
When do you think the people would finally be able to figure out what Jesus is talking about? They may read about God feeding Elijah, and realize God can do some amazing things to keep God’s people alive… but the only time they will begin to figure it out will not be by any more miracles, teaching or preaching, it will come after:
When are we like these Judeans? It is when we think we know all the answers. When we are so certain of our dogma, our faith systems, humankind generated traditions and customs, stereotypes and socially ‘accepted’ prejudices, then we become blind to seeing God working in, with and through each one of us each and every day; we become blind to seeing God doing something new and wonderful each day; and worst of all, we become deaf and blind to hearing Jesus say, “Follow Me!”
On Friday morning when I was heading to Hawaii Kai Retirement Community, ANC was bustling with food being distributed and a line of people going down to the bus stop. What do you think I saw when I looked at all this activity? It wasn’t food being distributed because of budgets; a master/business plan, rules and regulations were being followed… I saw food provided by people who heard Jesus command us to “As you have been blessed, BE A BLESSING TO ALL MY CHILDREN” and therefore they made sure there was enough food in the food bank! I saw faithful people positively responding to Jesus’ call to feed the hungry so they wrote a check or brought food donations; then I remember seeing God in the volunteers bagging the food the night before; then I saw God’s hands in the hands of the volunteers making sure hungry people received food or maybe even free legal advise… NO QUESTIONS ASKED! And most importantly, I saw Jesus’ face in the long line of people waiting for a few sacks of food.
I see God working when I see members of Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church inviting and welcoming anyone and everyone who is hurting and needs to be loved to this amazing congregation. I see people who have been rejected for whatever stupid reason from another church, their community or even their family welcomed to Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church to hear the Gospel and experience the Love of God through you!
Labels and past experiences don’t define who we are, God’s love and acceptance gives us our identity, a new hope and a new purpose. Don’t think too much. Just believe Jesus and follow Him. You can think as long as you want, but you will never understand God’s grace; This gift, you can only receive, believe and live. Amen.
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