Summary: Proper 14 (b). We do not have to find our way to Christ, because we are given to Him by the Father, and in Christ we are secure.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“Come None. Come All.”
You will recall that in our Gospel reading two weeks ago that we saw Jesus perform a miracle, and feed the 5,000 from 5 small loaves of bread. After that we saw how the people wanted more bread, and then they wanted a sign from Jesus. All this after he had feed them bread in a deserted place, just as God had feed the children of Israel in the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land, and that the sign that He was from God was the miracles He was performing in their presence, and that these miracles pointed them and us to the greater sign of His death and resurrection.
So last week our reading closes with this brief exchange between Jesus and the crowd. Jesus tells them, that the bread of God is not the manna that they were bragging about, but that “the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” To this, the people say “Sir, give us this bread always.” It looks like they are back on track, and that maybe, just maybe they are getting it, that they are understanding what Jesus is talking about. But alas, such is not the case. Jesus has just said that the bread of God is not a thing, but a person, “he who comes down from heaven.” Instead of asking, “Who is he?” or “How can bread be a person or a person be bread,” they simply say, "give us this bread." Nor is it clear that they understand that the bread is for “the life of the world.” Perhaps they are still only thinking about the bread as sustaining this physical, bodily life.
Whatever their thoughts were thus far, Jesus responds to their request for this bread, the true bread from heaven, saying, “I am the bread of life, the life giving bread” and “I have come down out of heaven.” That does it. Now they lose it. What is He saying? “I have come down out of heaven.” “He didn’t come from heaven. He comes from Nazareth. He’s Joseph’s kid. He did not fall from the sky, he did not come down from heaven.” And they are grumbling against Him. Not unlike the children of Israel who grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
Jesus tells them that their fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they still died. But the bread come down from heaven that He gives, is for the life of the world.
Yes vicar, we know this. But what about us? You see, God gave manna to the children of Israel, to care for them and give them life. Now Jesus is saying that this true bread for the life of the world. And yes, God so loved the world that He gave His Son. But just because God loves the whole world, the world is a lot a people. I mean, God may love the world, Jesus may give this bread for the life of the world. How do I know that He loves me? That this living bread is for me? Plain old me.
Good question. Let’s look at what Jesus says. “All that the Father gives Me, will come to Me.” You are a gift. You are gift given by the Father to Jesus. And because the Father has given you to Jesus, you come to Him. Okay, but how do I know that I was the one given, and how do I come to Him. Jesus tells us. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (v. 44). This sounds exclusionary, like a blockade that keeps us from God. “No one can come.” But really it is a great assurance. If we are dependent on choosing God, on coming to God, then our hope is in ourselves. And in times of doubt, we have only ourselves to turn to, which is no hope at all. But since we come to the Father only by His drawing, then we know that we believe in Him because He has chosen us, He has brought us. And in times of despair, we do not look at our choosing God, but at God’s choosing us in baptism. We know that we are chosen by God because we believe in Christ, and this we cannot do unless the Father has drawn us.
Alright. God chose Me. How do I know that I will still be His, that I will make it through the journey? How do I know that I will not get lost along the way?