Summary: He was given - for a purpose...
Given, for the Life of the World
Aug 27 P12
† In Jesus’ Name †
For you, there is grace, and mercy and peace, from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Introduction – a need for more….
A very famous Russian pastor, two months before he would be martyred in 1993, was interviewed on the major Russian radio station. Because he was known to be pastor to both Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and physicist Andrei Sakharov, and because he baptized some of the most famous writers in Russia, he was a man that was incredibly respected, and even former communist leaders cried at his funeral. On that radio show, which was not pro-chrisitianity, he was asked, “Does one need to be a Christian, and if one does, then why?"
This is his answer,
"I think there is only one answer, and it as follows," he said: "Man always seeks God. The normal state of man is, to some extent, to be connected with a higher power, even when the higher power in the human mind is distorted, and turned into something secular. Eras of Stalinism ... and all other isms seek some false god even if God is taken away. This turns to idol worship, but still the inner instinct of seeking God is there. ...
"The question is totally different when it is put this way: Why Christianity? Is it because of the sacred scriptures? No, every religion has sacred scriptures, and sometimes with a very high quality of spiritual content. ...
"Then why Christianity? Morality? Certainly. I am happy that in our society the high moral values of Christianity are accepted, but it would be totally erroneous to maintain that there are no moral values outside Christianity. ...
"Then why Christianity? Should we embrace ... a position that God is revealed and therefore can be found in any religion? No, because then the uniqueness and absolute character of Christianity will disappear. I think that nothing will prove the uniqueness of Christianity except one thing--Jesus Christ Himself."
In view of such comments, made in a society that for 80 years had rejected any idea of God, perhaps it is not surprising that such clear comments would result in martyrdom. That someone would find these words so offensive, they would literally bury an axe in the head of the pastor, while he made his way to church one Sunday.
Pastor Menn knew the truth that we find in today’s gospel reading, that it is Jesus, that makes Christianity different, that our faith is not just about morals, nor just about a claim that we have the true scriptures. It is about Jesus, and the fact that while mankind fills its emptiness with idols, to fill that hole that causes them to search for a god, in spite of that, Jesus came, and gave.
He gave the bread of life – himself.
He gave eternal life,
He gave himself, for the life of the world.
Given – Bread of life
Nourishment – Sustenance – Staple of life
Taught by God
How to live
How to endure
How to die
Because there is a purpose !
In our gospel reading this morning, there are two different things, Jesus repeats four times, over the course of ten verses. The people are having difficulty understanding, for while they desire to hear these words, they have trouble getting past the idea that Jesus is not just Mary’s son, he is the Messiah. And so Jesus, throughout this chapter, will repeat these two concepts over and over.
The first is, that they are being given that which Jesus calls the “bread of life”, and that this bread of life, is His body. You see it there, in verse 41, 48, 50 and 51. Jesus is the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of life.
Bread is considered, in just about every place in the world, to be a staple of life. Whether a pita pocket, or a tortilla, whether rye bread or sourdough, or flatbread or biscuit, or even manna in the desert, it can keep our body functioning. Bread and water, once upon a time, was the actual diet of British Naval and Army men under discipline not serious enough to warrant being flogged, or executed.
For us, spiritually, that is what Jesus is, He is what nourishes us, it is knowing His work for us on the cross, that will keep our faith from starving. It is looking to Him, and realizing what He has done, that gives us life. But that is just the beginning, as Martin Luther pointed out, in his explaination of the Lord’s prayer section on providing daily bread,
This bread is our Lord Jesus Christ who feeds and comforts the soul [John 6:51]. Therefore, O heavenly Father, grant grace that the life, words, deeds, and suffering of Christ be preached, made known, and preserved for us and all the world. Help that we may find in his words and deeds an effective example and mirror of all virtues for every phase of life. Help that we may be strengthened and comforted in suffering and adversity in and through his suffering and cross. Help us through his death to overcome our own death with a firm faith and thus boldly follow our beloved Guide into the life beyond this one.