JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE
Jesus miraculously fed over 5,000 people and they were wanting to make him King. Before they had a chance to act on this decision Jesus disappeared. Not deterred, they followed Jesus and his disciples to Capernaum, the headquarters of his ministry.
When they got there Jesus was rather tough on them. “Did you show up today because I gave you a free meal yesterday? There is a whole lot more happening than you realize.
“Don’t work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life that the Son of Man will give you.”
The people are fascinated. “What must we do to perform the works of God?” He replied; “This is the work of God, that you might actively trust and follow Jesus.”
“What sign are you going to show us that you are from God. Moses fed us manna in the wilderness, what are you going to do?” “I am the manna Moses fed your ancestors in the wilderness.”
Jesus is saying to them and to us, I am God himself feeding you with life, forgiveness, and salvation. There was a song from the 40’s that catches the essence of what Jesus is saying, “I’m all for you; body and soul.”
There is the story told of a psychiatrist who was serving as a chaplain in the hospital. One day he was talking to a pastor about his work. “My one job in here is to help patients love themselves.” If a person loves themselves; the good, the bad, and the ugly; most of the emotional and spiritual issues they face can be healed.” The pastor asked; “How many patients have you been able to help?” The chaplain after thinking long and hard on the question said, “Not many.”
I believe loving ourselves as a people of value is critical in life. But to be able to love in the depth that heals your soul and emotional wellbeing when you are hurting requires someone to love you who first knows all about you. That person is God himself. I John tells it: “We love, because God first loved us.”
In our two sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion God shows us just how much you are loved by God. God knows us better than anyone else. God knows us better than we know ourselves. In the waters of baptism God adopts us as brothers and sisters with Jesus and all Christians of all time. In baptism we die and rise with Christ. We are spiritually taken to the Cross and die with Jesus and we are told through water and the word that all sin has been forgiven and we are all now eternally united with a God who loves us more that we will ever fully know on this side of eternity.
In communion God assures us that he still has that relationship with us that he started on the day we were baptized. Jesus himself is mysteriously in this meal we will receive today offering us a renewed relationship with God of life, forgiveness, and salvation.
God loves each of us enough to die and live with us even in eternity. And in this meal Jesus gives us himself.
But this is not the only way he feeds us. When we read the scripture first with our mind and secondly with our heart as a love letter from God, we are being fed the body of Christ. When we pray and listen silently for God to speak to us through words, events, and signs; God feeds us even when our ears hear nothing, but our soul is fed.
In the process we come to realize just how much God loves us. And when we do, it empowers us to love ourselves: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Yes, Jesus is the bread of life, and Jesus does not offer junk food. Jesus gives us the very manna from heaven — himself. Amen.