Summary: Proper 15 (b) Jeus is the Bread of Life which has come down from heaven. He comes down as the manna did, sustaining us and living us life.
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.
Today we reach the conclusion of Jesus discourse that He is the Bread of Life. We have seen how the Jews asked Jesus for a sign, before them would believe, even though he had just turned the five loaves into a meal for five thousand, and that the sign He has given us is His death and resurrection. We have heard from Jesus Himself that the Father has drawn us to Him and given us to Him, and that Jesus will never cast us aside. And throughout all of this Jesus was been telling them that He is the bread of life.
Earlier, you will recall, He had told them that He was the bread come down from heaven, and that they started grumbling against him, that he was not from heaven, he was from Nazareth. But He persists, I am the living bread that came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever. Now He adds, the bread that He will give is His flesh for the life of the world.
This is more than they can take, more than they can understand. How can that be? They ask. Now, they are not saying that to find out, how it can be. Rather, what they are saying is No Way. Im-possible. How can THAT be? They are thinking that Jesus is talking about eating his flesh. Are we to tear Him limb from limb?
But Jesus does not stop and try to explain. He does not back up or back off. Instead, Jesus takes it one step farther. Talking about bread isn’t enough. Now it is, “Unless you eat of flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood you will not have life within you.”
Now it is not just the crowd, but the disciple who do not understand. “This is a hard saying,” meaning not just that they don’t get it, but that it is offensive to them. That is why they say, “Who can listen to this?”
This is nothing new, and it is still going on today. We expect that the world does not understand. We expect that the world does not “get it” about God, Christ, sin, grace, salvation, none of it. But even the disciples today do not understand. They say this is a hard saying, who can listen to this?
What do you mean, vicar? Jesus says in the His Last Testament, Take, Eat, this is My body. Take, Drink, this is my blood. But that is too hard to listen to. It can’t be his body and blood, can it? I mean, that would be cannibalistic, and icky. And it would be “icky” if He gave us meaty flesh and bloody blood. But He comes to us as the living bread come down from heaven. The miracle bread. So that we receive his flesh and blood in forms of bread and wine. Just as He said, “The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Remember how we said that the crowd should have asked a question here, because Jesus did not say, "the bread of God is that WHICH comes down," but "HE who comes down", meaning the bread of God is a person, namely, Jesus? The question they could have asked, but didn’t, was “How can bread be a person, or a person bread?”
That question was not asked then, but it is asked by many today, “How can bread be a person?” That is, “How can this bread, be the body of Jesus?” That is a hard saying. How can it be? It can, and it is, because Christ says so. He created the world and spoke it into existence. And He is the one who says, “Go your way, your sins are forgiven you.” Now, if He has the power, and He does, to create the world, and if He has the power, and He does, to forgive our sins, and we believe Him; why then, would we not believe His words when He says, This is My body? This is My blood?
Could it be that this is just representational or just spiritual? Jesus says, “My flesh is real food indeed, and my blood is real drink.” Now there is an abundance of meaning there. Yes, Jesus is saying that his flesh and blood which died on the cross is the source of life. Think about it. That’s what food is. The source of life. You may eat because you enjoy it, but fundamentally you eat because if you don’t you die. So Jesus’s sacrifice is the source of eternal life. But that is not the only meaning. St Paul explains the nature of the temple sacrifices while speaking to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper. He writes, “Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?” 1 Cor 10. So they who eat the sacrifice, those who partake of the sacrifice, participate in the sacrifice and its blessing. Which is why he also wrote, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”