First Lesson: 2 Samuel 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33
Responsive Reading: Psalm 130
Second Lesson: Ephesians 4: 25- 5:2
Gospel Lesson: John 6: 35, 41-51
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Today is one of the biggest days of the year for me. My beloved Minnesota Vikings in a little less than nine hours will take the field for their first pre-season game. I will give you a preview of my upcoming evening. Sit on the couch about 7 PM with some Dark Chocolate and Lemon Juice all excited for the first few series of the game. The Vikings regulars will then hit the bench, and then I’ll talk to my dad on the phone for a while as they play. I’ll go to bed after half-time taping the second-half with good intentions to watch it upon waking up. I’ll get bored watching the game tomorrow morning as it’s hard to get excited about a game that doesn’t count in the standings. The Vikings could win tonight 60-0 or lose 60-0, and people will not remember the score of tonight’s game, four months from now. Tonight’s game is merely a potential preview that might only paint a small picture of what the future holds in some small way.
Second and last Vikings related story for today. I have a friend named Cody. Cody lives in the Milwaukee area. Cody goes to work surrounded by the green and gold of the Green Bay Packers. Cody goes to Church Sunday morning, and people are wearing Packer jerseys. So Cody will often get razzed by Packers fans with them saying “How can you cheer for a team without any Super Bowl trophies?” As Cody is telling me this, I tell him that the response to the teasing Packer fans should be simple. “I cheer for them because it’s going to be all the sweeter when the Vikings do finally win one.” It is this great future hope that keeps me going during loss after loss.
Today we come to the third sermon in a series on the bread of life. Two weeks ago, we looked at the bread of life as a miracle. Last week, we looked at the bread of life for this life. Today, we look at the bread of life in connection with eternal life.
How should we understand the lesson for today? Look at it as a history lesson. Our Gospel begins with the same words that we ended last week:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”- John 6:35
The whole key to understanding our lesson is to tie it in with Jesus’ great miracle from the Gospel of John in the Feeding of the 5,000.
Many of us know the famous symbol of the Energizer Bunny how it keeps going and going and going. Banging its drum again and again never seemingly stopping no matter how much we think that it should.
The never ending feast was the feeding of the 5,000. Two fish, five loaves, over 5000 people they kept coming and coming and coming receiving the bread of life without qualification or exception. The feeding of the 5,000 though was not the beginning of the bread of life story.
The bread of life story starts a long time before even the days of Jesus, back in the days of Moses.
The Israelite's escape from Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and then wind up in the desert seemingly left to die without food or water in the bright desert sun. God had different plans. God rained down manna in the morning from heaven and quail in the evening. This story of manna and quail would have shaped the whole way that the people in Capernaum heard Jesus talking about the bread of life.
When Jesus said “I am the bread of life,” this would bring back memories of an even earlier encounter in Moses’ life with a burning bush. Jesus claiming “I am the bread of life” would have sounded like God saying to Moses “I am the Lord your God.”
When people on this day heard Jesus claim to the “bread of life”. We cannot imagine the meaning of his words after the fact. The audience would have thought what Jesus was saying to be a joke. You can just hear the snickers. They looked at Jesus with all the seriousness of a six-year-old who claims to be a car as he zooms around the room. Look at this silly fellow. He’s just an ordinary man, son of Joseph and Mary. We know his parents. They’re not anything special. He’s not anything special. He’s certainly not God standing before us. People are hearing Jesus claiming to have come down from Heaven would make as much sense as someone standing up today claiming to come down from Mars.
What Jesus was saying is that he is God’s presence here on earth. Jesus was nothing more than an ordinary- looking first century Jew. Jesus blended in with the crowd. Jesus would have looked no different than anybody else at the synagogue. Here Jesus was claiming to be life-giving nourishment descended from heaven.
Jesus claims to the “bread of life” because he is speaking an essential spiritual truth about a physical truth. We need “bread” to survive. We need nourishment to sustain our daily lives. We need to be fed. Our need for food is why so many of our celebrations revolve around food. You ask everyone hear what the best part of the following holidays: New Years’ Day, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas the answer will nearly always be the food. Jesus knew the value of food well. Jesus merely wanted his hearers to think about food in a whole different way.
When I finished college, I lived in the Fargo-Moorhead area for a while without much going on. I would stay up most of the night and sleep most of the day. One of the highlights of my days was around 2 or 3 AM every morning, Hornbacher’s in North Fargo would put out their fresh donuts for the day. There was nothing better than donuts when they’re first warm. I can turn down store-bought donut pretty quickly, but right out of the oven is like a sensation that a person can’t describe. These donuts probably tasted to me like manna tasted to the people of Israel at first bite. The thing about donuts though is their value for my life would be short-lived rather than nourishing.
Jesus compares himself to the manna that the Israelite's received in the dessert to make the point that manna is pretty good, but it will only feed you for a time whereas the bread that he gives will feed for all eternity. All other bread will spoil. All other bread will only lead to more hunger. The bread that he gives you will not only last forever, but as within the feeding of the 5,000 we can receive this bread that he gives lasts forever.
As we consider the meaning of the “bread of life” for today, we come face to face with the same question that was so difficult for people in Jesus’ day to fathom. People in Jesus’ day wondered “How this ordinary man may be the great I am who burned in a bush” whereas we wonder “How can Jesus be present at both God’s right hand and the bread/wine at the same time?” How can Jesus be at all sorts of different churches on a Sunday morning? How this ultimately works is probably above what any of our heads can fathom.
What we say is that Christ is uniquely present in the Lord’s Supper. This presence is not the same thing as saying that God is with us at all times or in all places. Christ’s presence is a much different situation than even saying that God is in “all things”. Christ’s presence in Communion according to the scriptures is very different than his presence in the parking lot, on the golf course, or even fishing on Lake Superior. We cannot casually throw God’s presence around being here, there, and everywhere while denying that he is uniquely present at the very place that we need him to be. We believe in Christ’s unique presence in the Lord’s Supper because Jesus himself instituted his presence. Jesus says, “This is my body given for you.” The Apostle Paul twenty years or so after this day writing his letter to the Church in Corinth refers to the “Bread that we break, as participation in the body of Christ?”
These promises do not rest on rational or scientific proofs they rather rest on God’s ability to do what he says he will do.
Luther gave a couple of examples of how Christ can be present without us seeing that I would like for us to consider on this morning.
Think of the soul. You ask a doctor where in the body is the soul? They cannot do it. You ask the pastor where is my soul? They will give you the same answer of uncertainty. We cannot escape that nearly every religious tradition and even some Atheists believe that the soul exists. People can’t prove a soul through any scientific or philosophical evidence yet they will believe that it is there. People just believe that the soul is there.
A second example to consider how Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper is that of the seed. Seeds sprout, yet the thing about this event is that it is not visible able to be captured by any camera. The lack of cameras doesn’t make the sprouting of the seed though any less essential to its life span. The thing is even though we can’t see heaven at this very moment does not mean that we shall never see heaven come before our eyes.
Our story for today does not end today. The story does not stop at even your death. The fundamental promise of this text is “You shall live forever.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.”- John 6:47-48
As we consider the meaning of Jesus’ promise think of the words of Psalm 23 this morning:
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” You shall live in the house of the Lord forever.”
Think of the words that Jesus spoke to a grieving Martha she mourned the loss of her brother Lazarus “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
The story of the “bread of life” only ends at the time of Christ’s return. The whole focus of the bread of life discourse is on Christ calling forth all his saints from their graves and into his presence. Christ’s return will be the moment when we see the Resurrection of Christ’s body and blood within our body and blood. The meal that we receive is merely a foretaste of the feast that it is to come. The Lord’s Supper relates to eternal life because it is the giving of a promise that death shall not ultimately have the last word over us. We go forth today assured that we shall ultimately participate in the final resurrection.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”-John 6:51
 John 6:1-15
 Exodus 16
 Markquart, Ed. “Pentecost 10 B Gospel Analysis: Eternal Life”. Sermons from Seattle. Web. Aug.4.2015
 Exodus 3:6
 John 6:42
 Luke 22:19
 LW 36:338-339
 LW 36:339
 Psalm 23:4,
 Psalm 23:6b
 John 11:25-26a