TEXT: JOHN 6:51-69
Preached by Vicar Kyle Krueger
There are a lot of hard sayings for us in this life. Everything from “that will be $500 for a new alternator” or “I’m sorry we are going to have to let you go. We just don’t have the money for your position anymore” or “the cancer is back, you only have months to live”. Its times like this that we try to understand “why?” We grumble toward God and one another about them. We may even find these sayings so offensive that we become angry toward God and those around us because of them.
This begins to give you a glimpse into the thoughts and emotions that where going through the Jews and disciples minds when Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh”.
Preached by Vicar Kyle Krueger
There are a lot of hard sayings for us in this life. Everything from “that will be $500 for a new alternator” or “I’m sorry we are going to have to let you go. We just don’t have the money for your position anymore” or “the cancer is back, you only have months to live”. Its times like this that we try to understand “why?” We grumble toward God and one another about them. We may even find these sayings so offensive that we become angry toward God and those around us because of them. This begins to give you a glimpse into the thoughts and emotions that where going through the Jews and disciples minds when Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh”.
The text says the Jews disputed about these words. When the text says that there is a “dispute,” this word means to “engage in hand to hand combat”. This is how much frustration they had about Jesus words and how severely they disagreed with one another. And it is necessary that you understand why they would have been so upset about what Jesus is saying in this portion of scripture. In the Old Testament to eat the flesh of another person indicated a very hostile and warlike action toward them. This would certainly cause some difficulty for the Jews in what Jesus meant by this and thus their great argument with one another. And if that is not enough, Jesus continues not stopping with eating His flesh, but also drinking His blood. The Jews knew it was forbidden in God’s law to drink blood because the scripture said the blood had the life in it and you would certainly bring death by doing so. These things that Jesus speaks of would have been horrendously grotesque and despicable acts going against the Law of Moses.
The next layer to these hard sayings is not simply the unpleasant nature of these words, but in the context of John six, Jesus has also been proclaiming himself to be God in the flesh, the bread that came down from heaven. And even as he begins speaking in our section for today He declares “I AM the living bread.” That is the great “I AM” of the Old Testament, the God of Moses and Abraham, the God of Jacob and Isaac. The two things that cause the Jews to argue and the disciples to stop following him are the Jesus being God in the flesh and that our Lord Jesus would give His Body and blood for us to eat and drink. Two of the most precious Christian doctrines, the Lords Supper and the incarnation bring offense to the Jews and the Disciples.
Although the time and place as we gather here today may be different then it was many years ago in Capernaum, the issues and difficulties of Jesus Himself and His words still remain the same. It seems almost on an hourly basis that the devil and the world whisper into our ears “turn back, don’t walk with Jesus any farther… He is a myth made up by senseless fisherman and tax collectors…Don’t waste your time, all we have is the world we see around us, you should simply focus and trust in that… The body and blood of Jesus being on the altar is crazy, you better get out while you can” And we know that the sinful man within us wants to turn back, we do not want to deal with the garbage and persecution of this world that result from being a Christian. We would rather deal with suffering and hardship not by looking to Christ, but by ignoring it and finding refuge in material things or temptations of the flesh or another god we conger up in our minds to make us feel better.
But Jesus does not say these strange things like “eat my flesh and drink my blood” to leave us lost and confused. Listen to the text, “And the bread that I will give for the LIFE OF THE WORLD is my flesh… whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me…” Jesus does not give His body and blood because that’s what he decided to use as visual aids…NO! Body and blood is language of war and peace, death and life. Jesus lays down His life on the cross as a sacrifice. Jesus giving His body and blood mark the sacrifice He made for us. The war that He engaged in with the devil ended in Jesus standing in front of us and taking the blow, spilling His own innocent and precious blood on the ground at Calvary. Jesus death is so joyful because He rose from the dead. The grave could not hold Him and then He bids us to eat and drink of these spoils of war, His body and blood at the Altar.
Jesus gives us the gift of himself to feed on. Not just to eat it like we are having a greasy uncooked burger from McDonald's, but rather that we are sitting at a great Thanksgiving Day meal. The turkey took all day to prepare, it is golden brown with all the sides cooked to perfection and you are starving!!!! That is the disposition of the sinner towards the Lord’s Supper that we feed and feast on this food as if it were our very life, as if we are totally dependent on it, as if these words, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” have eternal life. What a God we have that gives us flesh to eat not to show hostility but to show the peace that has been made between God and man. A God that gives blood to drink not to take life from a person, but to give us life.
Jesus speaks many hard sayings. John reports in this chapter that after hearing this many of Jesus’ disciples turned back. There are reasons and temptations the world gives to turn from Jesus words. But what is Simon Peter’s response to Jesus question? Jesus asks the twelve “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy one of God.” You have those same words of eternal life! You have heard them. You will feed on His body and drink of His blood. These words and meal, which the savior speaks of will give you the strength to endure this life and will grant to you God’s wonderful gift of life everlasting.
Paul says in the epistle reading, “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” God has not spoken empty or meaningless words, but rich and full words to you through His Son. What some hear as hard and offensive sayings you hear as the sweet pure words and promises given by the Holy one of God. The world cannot give such things or make such steadfast promises, this you know too well; nor can the world stop grumbling and fighting among themselves about who Jesus is or what His words and teachings mean. You dear brothers and Sisters understand. And you know that this place is where and when the Holy Spirit delivers the spoils of war Christ won on the cross. We hear those words that give eternal life and we feast on the meal that does not perish.
In Jesus name. Amen.