Summary: Our identity as Chrsitains is in Christ. He redeems us, he nourishes, he feeds us
Sermon: I am the living bread
Story: Immediately after fighting had stopped in World War II, American soldiers gathered up many hungry and homeless children and placed them in tent cities.
Many of them were malnourished and in need of medical care. The soldiers shared their bread with them.
However, the soldiers noticed the children were afraid to go to sleep at night.
So one of the soldiers tried an experiment after dinner--he gave the children a piece of bread to hold.
The result was astounding. When they had the security of bread for tomorrow they slept like babies. It took away fear.
Bread! There is a surplus of meaning in this word. The word evokes strong emotions like security, fellowship, the presence of God, provisions for the journey.
Bread is deemed holy by peoples everywhere, and the root word for bread in most languages can be translated "food," as it is in the Bible.
But I WONDER how YOU would have reacted if you had been one of the original listeners to Jesus’ words:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn 6:51)
Very truly I tell you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you!” (Jn 6:53)
Jesus is speaking at a time when the Jewish Feast of Passover was near (Jn 6:4) and so I am sure everyone would have thought of bread and wine of the Passover Feast
So what would the bread and the wine have signified
The Bread (which is unleaven bread – you can buy it in the shops as Matzos) would have clearly reminded them of God’s mighty act of deliverance, when the Israelites were freed from.
It was unleaven to commemorate the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread rise.
And of course it would have reminded them of the manna in the desert, (spoken about earlier in the Chapter) where God nourished and sustained his people in the Wilderness
For the first century Jews, steeped in the Old Testament the wine would have reminded them of the Four Cups of wine used in the Passover Seder represent the four distinct redemptions promised by God to the Hebrews as told in Exodus:
i) "I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt." (Exodus 6:6)
ii) "I will deliver you from under their bondage." (Exodus 6:6)
iii) "And I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments." (Exodus 6:6)
iv) "And I will take you to be my people and I will be your God."(Exodus 6:7)
The bread and the wine therefore would have reminded them of God’s salvation.
And when Jesus said that salvation was only to be gained by eating his body and drinking his blood this would have grated
Why – because the Jews were forbidden to eat human flesh and drink blood – let alone human blood
But it wasn’t a literal eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood that Jesus was speaking of – it was metaphorical.
Because redemptive food and drink is only found through his death of the Cross.
Put another way, we need to allow Jesus to nourish us
How do we do that:
1. Jesus nourishes us as we gather together around the Lord’s table in fellowship and communion.
The Early Church used to regularly eat meals together and share the communion after.
In Acts 2 42 we read: They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching an to the fellowship to the breaking of bread and prayer
2. Jesus nourishes us as we read his word, the Bible and indeed as we learn in. The OT Jews learnt the OT because most of them could not read.
3. Jesus nourishes us through prayer – when we find time to be in his presence.
I have been reading the novel "The Shack" by William Young which has been described by Eugene Peterson, author of the Bible translation “The Message” as having “the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his.
It is a work of fiction in which the hero of the story has an encounter –in the Shack where his daughter was murdered with the Holy Trinity
During that time in the Shack, Papa, who is God the Father says this to Mack:
“… religion is about having the right answers and some of their answers are right. But I am about the process that takes you to the living answer and once you get him, he will change you from the inside (p.198)