Summary: According to Calvin the Lord's Supper is a mere Memorial Meal and Jesus cannot come to us because He is in heaven at the right side of the Father, but John 6 and the words spoken at the Last Supper and Paul in 1st Corinthians 11 point that it is more than
Jesus is the Bread of Life
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, through the power of your Holy Spirit,
open our hearts and minds to the proclamation of your Word,
that we might be fed and nourished in faith.
Help us to appreciate the importance of Jesus your Son,
being the bread of life, who, through his life, death and resurrection,
nurtures and strengthens us in our relationship with You,
the Creator of the universe, and the Author of life.
This we ask in His holy name. Amen.
Biblical scholars refer to Chapter Six of John’s Gospel as the Bread of Life discourse.
The chapter began with Jesus miraculously feeding over five thousand people
with the meagre lunch of a young boy,
which consisted of just five barley loaves and two small fish.
Last Sunday, our Gospel reading told us that the people whom Jesus had fed that day, went in search of Him, finding him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
When the crowd approached Jesus,
He told them that they came seeking Him,
not because they saw the miracle as a sign that pointed to God’s presence among them, but because they ate their fill.
In other words, Jesus was asking the people
to see beyond his ability to feed their physical hunger,
to behold his ability to feed them spiritually.
The Old Testament last week was about the grumbling
by those who had survived the Exodus.
Moses told them, “He (God) humbled you by letting you hunger,
then by feeding you with manna,
with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted,
in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
This, of course, is the passage that Jesus quoted to the devil when he tempted him,
when following His baptism, and fasting for forty days in the wilderness,
Jesus was challenged to turn stones into bread.
These and similar texts tell us that in the time
when Jesus conducted His ministry among the people,
the image or metaphor of comparing the Word of God with bread
was a common analogy.
As Gail Ramshaw points out in her commentary on our Gospel lesson for this morning, quote:
“Already in Jewish tradition, the Torah, the word and wisdom of God,
was described as if it were bread.
The devout believer consumed the teachings of the prophet;
the word of God filled human need.” End quote.
Ramshaw then goes on to indicate that the author of John’s Gospel
not only pictures Jesus expanding upon this metaphor,
that the Torah and the word of the prophets is the bread of life,
but that in His teachings, Jesus applies this image to Himself.
Jesus is saying not only that He speaks the Word of God,
but that He IS the Word of God incarnate.
In verses 1 and 42 of John 6 we read:
“Then the Jews (or the people in the crowd) began to complain about Him
because He said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’
They were saying, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph,
whose father and mother we know?
How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?”
It is obvious that the people whom Jesus engaged in conversation that day
had trouble seeing beyond physical reality.
That is true with many people we come in contact with today;
they will for the most part accept that Jesus existed,
and that He was a good man,
and a good example everybody should follow,
and possibly that He was a prophet,
but the Word of God incarnate,
the Bread of life,
that is too much for them to swallow.
The Jews in John 6 were from that region in Galilee.
It was not a very populous district, so they knew Joseph and Mary,
Jesus’ parents, his birth father and birth mother
as far as they were concerned.
Some may have known Him from His childhood,
and knew that He was raised to be a carpenter.
How could Jesus now say that He has come down from heaven?
He must be mad!
But Jesus wasn’t speaking in purely physical terms.
He was challenging the people to look beyond what they could see with their eyes
or put into their stomachs.
It was as if Jesus was saying to the people,
“We do not live by bread alone, but by the word of God”,
the same answer He gave to the tempter in the wilderness.
He was saying that physical things are important but only last for a time,
but spiritual things are more important because they last for ever.
He was challenging the people of that time and space
to come to see that in Him,