Bread of Life
Pentecost 9B John 6:24-35
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Bread is a common staple that is part of every home in every part of the world. Every home in the world eats bread. Bread is a basic staple of the human race.
We all love bread, especially home made bread right out of the oven. Warm and soft. It is soooo good. It is soooooo yumscious. Can’t you smell it? Can’t you taste it? Yummmmmm.
So it is with Jesus and his love. Jesus and his infinite love for ALL people is soooooo good. His love and way of life is soooooo yumscious. So tasty. So full of flavor. It is the way to live and love.
And we love sourdough bread:
And we love pita bread:
And we love banana bread: I especially love banana bread. From mother’s oven. It was sooooo good.
When we eat bread that is fresh and good, it is so invigorating. And so it is when we consume the bread of life, Jesus and God’s infinite love for all people in the world. This bread is sooooo good, the best bread in the whole wide world. Infinite love for all people, for all kinds of people Infinite compassion. Infinite justice. Infnite peace. Jesus’ love is sooooo good. The bread of life is so good.
Breads are eaten all over the world. Here is a picture of Finnish rye bread:
Irish Soda bread:
And Jesus, the bread of life, the energy of divine and infinite love, is eaten all over the world, in every culture, in every century, in every time and every place throughout human history. Jesus is the bread of life.
Bread is part of our daily lives. Would you please imagine the bread drawer in your kitchen?
In all of your kitchens, you have one particular place in your kitchen where you keep your bread. Our bread drawer is located to the right of the refrigerator, in the bottom drawer. Our family prefers bread that is soft and fresh. Our family knows that we are to tightly wrap a plastic bag around the bread so that the bread stays fresh and won’t dry out.
Jesus, the bread of life, the source of infinite love,is there in your kitchen. Jesus and his love is present in the very ordinary places of our lives such as the kitchen. Jesus is the source of love for all people who visit your kitchen.
Would you all imagine the row of bread at the grocery store in which you shop?
We all buy our bread from a grocery store at which we shop rather regularly.
I recently visited our grocery store and discovered that the row of bread in our grocery store is seven shelves high and forty-five feet long. This forty-five foot row of bread is divided as follows and I believe that this division may be similar to your grocery store. At the far right, are all the very sweet breads such as Ding Dongs, Twinkies, Zingers, Brownies, and Powered Puffies. The next set of breads are the bagels and I find that bagels come in many different flavors and tastes. The next set of breads are the buns. These are numerous hot dog buns and hamburger buns. Next came the rolls. There were hard rolls, French rolls, sour dough rolls and a host of other rolls that often appear at our dinner table when my wife is serving a more formal dinner. Then, after thirty feet of these breads, come the actual loaves of bread. I discovered that there were twelve grain breads, nine grain breads, eight grain breads, and the numbers of grains slowly declined until I got to the Wonder Bread which must have had no grains in it at all. Thus ended the forty-five feet of the bread section in our family superstore and we are reminded of the fact that America is often called the “breadbasket of the world.”
Jesus is at the grocery stores of our lives, in all those common and public places that we visit everyday. The bank. The post office. The highway. And we need to be people of infinite love, gentle love, compassionate love for everyone. The bread of life and energy of love needs to be living inside of all of us as we visit all those public places in our lives each day.
I would now like to approach the main body of the sermon, and ask the question: “What does God, through the Bible, teach about bread?” The theme today is: “Bread and the Bible.”
The following picture of bread will remain with us throughout the sermon. Doesn’t this bread look good? Doesn’t the infinite, compassionate love of Jesus taste good?
First and foremost, from the Bible, we hear that fundamental petition from the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
God desires all people around the globe to have enough daily bread to nourish their lives. The word, “give,” reminds us that all bread comes from God and that bread is a gift of sunshine, rain, good soil, weather, and the atmosphere above the earth which allows the miracle of bread to happen. No person could ever make a loaf of bread if God had not been generous with these gifts of nature.
The word, “us,” refers to the human community around the globe. Jesus did not say, “Give me this day my daily bread.” It is not a selfish prayer just for me and my family but is a generous prayer, including the whole human family. The “us” does not narrowly refer to the church or include only Christians around the globe. The “us” includes all humanity.
The word, “daily,” is also important. The Apostle Paul, in II Corinthians 8, talks about the manna or bread that God gave to the Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness for forty years. As recorded in the book of Exodus, each night, miraculously, God provided manna on the ground for people to eat and keep themselves alive, and Paul says that these people “gathered not too much nor too little.” You and I need the right portion of bread. If you gather and eat too much, you get fat, and many people in our country are fat. If you gather too little and eat not enough, you can starve your body. Many people around the globe aremalnourished. God wants us to have a daily and appropriate portion of bread for the best health of all human beings.
"Bread" is a symbol of food and our daily needs. Martin Luther, in his catechism on the Lord’s Prayer, says that bread is a symbol of our daily needs.
Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer is instructive for our lives and our moral values about world hunger: Give us this day our daily bread.
Secondly, thinking about the theme of “Bread and the Bible,” the Lord God wants us to share our bread and resources with other people who are not as fortunate as we are in terms of material abundance. The Bible story that I have chosen to illustrate this point is the story of the feeding of the five thousand. This must have been one of the great and memorable stories about Jesus because this story is told in detail in all four of our gospels. This story is from John, chapter 6, which is the "bread of life" chapter. We are preaching five consecutive sermons from this chapter.
The setting was this: Jesus was preaching out in the countryside, and it became evening. There were no stores or markets around to buy bread, and so Jesus ordered all people to sit on the ground and wait. Jesus asked for food and no bread was to be found, except a young boy who had five loaves of bread and two fish. Andrew brought this boy to Jesus, and the boy gave his five loaves of bread and two fish and Jesus started to feed the five thousand people. When Jesus finished feeding the five thousand people, there was enough bread left over to fill twelve baskets. This was quite a miracle that Jesus did.
Some interpreters suggest that Jesus preached in such a way, that the people, seeing the generosity of the boy, were convicted by the words of Jesus and convinced by Jesus’ invitation to share. So people opened up their own bags that were hidden beneath their robes and began to share their bread with each other. Such interpreters suggest that this was one of the greatest miracles of Jesus, because Jesus transformed five thousand selfish hearts into generous hearts. To
transform self people into generous people is definitely a miracle.
Likewise today, as we hear this story and this sermon, we too are convicted of our own selfish hearts and we are convinced that we are to share from our abundance so that all people everywhere would have their necessary allotment of daily bread.
We recall other passages from the Book of Proverbs: Proverbs 19:17 “People who are kind to the poor lend to the LORD, and the LORD will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 22:9 “Generous people will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”
Thirdly, thinking about the theme of “Bread and the Bible,” the last truth of the sermon is this: Jesus Christ is the Bread of life. Jesus, the source of infinite and compassionate love, is soooooo good, just as homemade bread is soooooo good.
Let’s us focus on two sentences from the gospel lesson for today.
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, People knew human nature, and human nature is to work very hard to put food onto the table and pay all the bills that make for our survival. We all know about the symbolic statement of “gotta put the food on the table” which means to pay all bills in order to survive.
That is still a problem today. People work so hard to get ahead financially and materially that we human beings often slip into thinking that food and prosperity are the primary sources of our happiness. We human beings slowly discover the truth that genuine happiness is not found in money and material goods. As human beings, we work so hard for the things of this world which quickly run down, break down, rust, and rot, crumble and corrode. Everything does.
Jesus is the true bread from heaven that never molds or decays. The bread in our bread drawers will always decay but Jesus, the Bread of Life, never gets moldy, rotten, putrid, or stale. Jesus Christ and his love energizes our lives forever with the right kind of energy of love and compassion that we need.
Let’s look at a second sentence in the gospel lesson for today:
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. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is pure love and compassion for ALL people on this earth. Jesus is God’s love. Jesus is eternal love. When you eat Jesus, you take in God’s pure love and compassion for ALL people into your heart.
Jesus is the source of life, the source of eternal life, the source of the values of our daily lives, the pattern of love for our daily lives.
When we absorb Christ into our daily lives, we take in the Mind and Heart of God who loves all people as God's children. That is what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It means to have the Spirit of Jesus living inside of you. It means to have the heart and mind of God living inside of you. Jesus is the Bread of life and whoever eats of Christ will never hunger again.
When we eat and absorb Jesus’ words, spirit, and love into our lives, Jesus lives in us and we never die.
The basic food staple of the world is bread and Jesus is the basic spiritual staple of the world. There is a shortage of physical bread in this world of ours, but there is even a greater shorter of the bread of love.
How we love to eat bread and consume it, especially when it is fresh and warm! How we love to consume Christ and his spirit of love into our lives! As we absorb the spirit of Jesus Christ and his love, justice and compassion, these qualities live more fully in us.
Jesus is never just bread. Jesus is always the bread OF LIFE. As we consume physical bread, it gives us nourishment and energy for our physical lives. As we consume Jesus into our lives, his indwelling presence becomes the source for compassionate energy without our lives. He becomes the nourishment and energy for our spiritual, emotional and moral lives.
Bread. Are going to eat bread today? Think of that time in your life where someone was making homemade bread in your kitchen? Wasn't that a great smell? So warm? So soft? So great to the taste.
So it is with the bread of life, the bread of love, the bread of Jesus. Amen.
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