August 2, 2015
The 10th Sunday after Pentecost
“Jesus Is the Bread of Life”
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
TEXT: John 6:35 ~ “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’”
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
Introduction: Saving faith in Christ leads to feeding the poor, but does feeding the poor lead to faith in Christ?
All signs are intended to lead to faith! (Water into wine, even raising Lazarus!)
I. Distracted by the worldly gifts, we miss the Giver.
A. Crowds then were after a free lunch. “You are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”
1. Jesus fed the 5,000/walked on water/healed many and raised the dead, yet they demanded Jesus give them a sign!
2. Many left him when he stopped passing out free cell phones. So much for Church Growth princiles! The crowd left and Jesus asks the Twelve, “Would you leave me, too?”
Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”
Only Christ paid for your sins and made your peace with God the Father Almighty.
We’re told that Ghandi, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, Buddha, Mohammed… We’re told they are all expressions of the same God, just different pathways to the one true God, but only One paid for your sins. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
B. Crowds today are just as blind and ungrateful.
1. “Acts of God” vs. Mother Earth (Earth is God’s gift to us!)
“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” is just nature,
but let your neighbor’s tree fall on your house or fence
and it’s suddenly “an act of God.”
2. We don’t trust God to feed us, so we kill our own babies.
In parts of Europe they are ahead of us: the elderly and handicapped, are being killed…
many of them without their permission.
We are so focused on the gift of life (our own life!) that we miss seeing the Giver.
Don’t let the gift blind you to the Giver – remember that every good gift is from above.
II. God gives us both physical and spiritual food. (Both are important.)
A. Physical Miracles of growth, harvest, birth, healing…
1. God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth… gives us our daily bread: “God has made me and all creatures; He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true. [Small Catechism, First Article of the Creed]
2. God blessed us with this sacred space and all the furnishings – why?
To help feed you and your neighbor the Bread of Life! To lead us to Christ! All signs are intended to lead to faith!
B. Spiritual Miracle of faith – it’s the work of God, the eternal work of God:
“What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
This is not a command from God for you to do it; this is your assurance that God gives you faith! “This is the work of God…”
1. …the Holy Scriptures credit conversion, faith in Christ, regeneration, renewal, and all that belongs to their effective beginning and completion, not to the human powers of the natural free will, neither entirely nor half, nor in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part, but… entirely, solely, to the divine working and the Holy Spirit…
Reason and free will are able to a certain extent to live an outwardly decent life; but to be born anew, to be raised from spiritual death, and to obtain inwardly another heart, mind, and disposition, this only the Holy Spirit can do. He opens the understanding and heart to understand the Scriptures and to give heed to the Word, as it is written Luke 24:45: Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. Also Acts 16:14: Lydia heard us; whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. He worketh in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure, Phil. 2:13. He gives repentance, Acts 5:31; 2 Tim. 2:25. He works faith, Phil. 1:29: For unto you it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him. Eph. 2:8: It is the gift of God.
John 6:29: This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. He gives an understanding heart, seeing eyes, and hearing ears, Deut. 29:4; Matt. 13:15. He is a Spirit of regeneration and renewal, Titus 3:5. 6. He takes away the hard heart of stone, and gives a new tender heart of flesh, that we may walk in His commands, Ezek. 11:19; Deut. 30:6; Ps. 51:10. He creates us in Christ Jesus to good works, Eph. 2:10, and makes us new creatures, 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15. And, in short, Every good gift is of God, Jas. 1:17. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draw him, John 6:44. No one knoweth the Father, save him to whom the Son will reveal Him, Matt. 11:27. No one can call Christ Lord except by the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 12:3.
Without Me, says Christ, ye can do nothing, John 15:5. All our sufficiency is of God, 2 Cor. 3:5. What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? 1 Cor. 4:7.
Even St. Augustine was convinced that he had been mistaken when he had believed that the grace of God consists only in God preaching the truth, but that our consenting to the preached Gospel is our own work, and is within our own powers. St. Augustine writes: I was mistaken when I said that it is within our own power to believe the Gospel;
it is God’s work…
This doctrine is founded upon God’s Word…
[SD II 25-27]
2. The Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacrament kindles faith in you, enables you to believe his body and blood are “given for you, for the forgiveness of sins.”
This assurance of forgiveness leads to faith that we are at peace with God and that immediately leads to thanksgiving to God for all his forgiveness, which is why the Lord’s Supper is sometimes called the Eucharist, the “Thanksgiving.”
Here on this altar is the Bread of Life, given for you for the forgiveness of your sins!
This faith and thankful heart immediately cause you to love God and your neighbor – and to show your love by feeding the poor. This gift of faith from God fills you with zeal to share the Bread of Life (Jesus!) with your neighbor.
Conclusion: Be in the Word: in the Bible; and the Word attached to the bread and wine; and the Word of forgiveness in remembering your Baptism when you were washed clean of all your sins; and here in this sacred space where you gladly hear and cherish the Word of forgiveness and peace with God.
“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’”
Be in the Word and you will be feeding on the Bread of Life. You will come to Jesus and never hunger; you will believe in him and never thirst.
The peace of God, which is beyond understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.