Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Last week we talked about Jesus being the bread of life. Jesus was trying to show those around him that they were working for the favor of others. The hole they felt — the sense of not belonging — could only be permanently filled by God’s love, the bread of life. This week, Jesus continues to explain to us what it means for him to be the bread of life. Like Jesus, I think we need to clarify and establish a few things before we can get into the meat of this.
John 6:44 “No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws them…” (NIV)
God is drawing us; it is not our work. If you are here, God has drawn you. If you are here, you are known by God. If you are here, God has a plan for you.
You belong, you are accepted. God is saying, “Stop worrying whether you’re good enough and start listening.”
We already know we aren’t good enough, but the prophets say in John 6:45, “they will all be taught by God.” God draws us, but that doesn’t mean this is some passive thing. You don’t just sit back and do nothing and let God wash over you and save you. You are a learner. Learners take in knowledge, digest it, sit on it, reflect on it.
Let me give an example. I could tell you the entire life story of my wife. Once I was done I could give a multiple choice test on her and y’all would do pretty well. Y’all still wouldn’t know her though. Not like I do.
Life with God isn’t school. Life with God isn’t multiple choice. Life with God isn’t about knowing facts. It’s learning like you do in a relationship. It’s learning not from a list of facts, but from a life together. God is the one that teaches. He isn’t teaching us facts or laws. He’s teaching us what love is. What a relationship is. What friendship is.
This all brings us back to the Exodus. John 6:49 says, “your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.” This is what we talked about last week. Like simple facts, food doesn’t get you very far. You get a good grade on the test, but you’ll have to memorize more for the next. God gave folk manna from heaven, but they were hungry again. They still aged and died. It didn’t significantly change anything.
A relationship is more than that. I don’t have to study to know how my wife will react to something. I know because after years of sharing and experiencing life with her, I’ve learned her. I know her.
Relationships, true relationship, have staying power. I was a chaplain at a nursing home. Long after a spouse had died, she still had an impact greater than facts.
Knowing God, being in relationship with God, brings eternal life. John 6:47 says, “the one who believes has eternal life.” What exactly is “eternal”? I don’t think it’s as simple as saying it means “forever”. I think it’s a type of forever life. It’s life in relationship with God. It’s life knowing you are known and loved. It’s life knowing you’re not a mistake. It’s life knowing there’s a future. It’s life without memorization and tests. It is the very life of God.
John earlier says that no one has known the Father except Jesus. By seeing Jesus we have known the Father.
Jesus is showing us what eternal life looks like. It’s a life of caring, of healing, and of joy. It’s also a life of hurt, loneliness, and suffering because of those we love.
Jesus says in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” Jesus gives us more than food. Jesus gives us the path to eternal life, relationship with God. We receive eternal life through what Jesus did on the cross. We take it into ourselves because he freely gives himself to us.
Don’t for a second think that what we do here at the Table each week is just a fun act. Jesus didn’t leave a lot of specifics behind for the Church before he left, but Communion is one of them.
He took the time to take the Passover meal and make it a part of his very work in the world. At the table Jesus gives us himself. Not just a memory, but his very real presence.
This is our manna from Heaven, this is our food for the journey. It’s a cracker and some juice, but it’s the Bread of Heaven and the blood of God’s suffering because of and for us.
The Psalmist says “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Taste it. In the wine we remember that Jesus’ first miracle was bringing more wine for the wedding feast. He wants us to be happy. He provides for our joy. He invites us to his banquet. Taste it. In the cracker we remember manna and know that Jesus gives himself for us. In the bread, in our baptism, Jesus is here with us and a part of us forever.
Think about it. We eat the bread. We digest the bread. This bread from this Table becomes a part of our cells, what we are made of. Jesus loves you so much, he wants to weave himself into the very fabric of your being. That’s pretty awesome.
If you only get one thing out of today’s sermon, let it be this: this stuff is real. Bread, blood, body, wine, water, and fire — these are the symbols of scripture. The are real things.
We don’t talk about a bunch of ideas or facts you have to know to be “right.” God doesn’t sit up on a cloud somewhere, invisible, giving us crazy things to believe so we can get to Heaven. God doesn’t want us to reject this world and all the things around us.
No. This is God’s good creation. God loves this creation so much, loves us so much, he became a person in this creation for us. You understand Jesus had a Mom? Jesus was a baby? God was a baby? God became real to really save us. This isn’t some abstract myth you have to know so your spirit goes to a good place when you die.
God became a man to save us and he continues to give us his grace and presence in bread and wine. Right now, right here in this room God is present. Not as a feeling, but in the reality of our bodies and the fruits of his good earth.
Never for a second feel like you don’t matter or that you are alone. God has forever connected himself to us and to the world.
You are real. You are really loved. It takes a real God to bring himself to us.
Jesus says in John 6:51, “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.”
If you are here, God has drawn you. If you are here, you are known by God. If you are here, God has a plan for you.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8 NIV)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.