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Summary: In a world of fad diets, cooking shows on tv, and gourmet grocery stores everywhere, Jesus reminds us not to work for the bread that perishes. We are reminded that Jesus is the bread eternal!

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"You Are What You Eat!"

Sermon on John 6:24-35

Pentecost +9-B

August 6, 2006

Rev. J. Curtis Goforth, O.S.L.

“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” -John 6:33-35

A good friend of mine who I met on an archaeological dig in Israel had been carrying around about 100 more pounds on him than he needed to be his ideal weight. Even though he was out swinging a pick axe in the desert for 3 months, he still seemed to not lose any weight. So, when I saw my friend the next year back on the same archaeological dig, I almost didn’t recognize him because he had lost 80 pounds! He was a different person. It was almost as though his whole being had been changed.

Anytime you see somebody who has lost a significant amount of weight, there is this compulsion you feel that you have to ask them how it was that they were able to lose so much weight. I succumbed to that compulsion and asked my friend how on earth he was able to lose his weight. I knew it had to be something dramatic since 14-hour days full of physical exertion in the desert last year didn’t seem to affect his weight. I asked him what sort of tremendous regime of diet and exercise he used to knock off so many pounds.

He said, “Well, I ate a lot of meat and cheese and I sat on the couch!” This was back in 1998, well before the Adkins Diet had become so popular. I couldn’t believe it! I thought he was joking with me because he was just that sort of guy. But he told me about the book Dr. Adkins New Diet Revolution and about how he had lost so much weight just by taking bread and other carbohydrates largely out of his diet. Well, on my way home in the Tel Aviv Airport I rushed into the first bookstore I could find and I bought a copy of that diet book and read it on the long flights home that summer.

I tried that diet once I got home and I lost all kinds of weight too. I would go to the grocery store and buy cream cheese and salami and steaks and pork chops and sausage, but I had this insatiable craving for a big hunk of sourdough bread. I would pass the big loaves of fresh baked artisan breads and a stream of drool would drip down my chin. It is funny how much a diet can rule your thoughts. When you are on a diet, the only thing you can think about are those foods you can’t eat. Oh to have a feast of Snickers bars and ice cream and bread! It’s funny how much a diet can rule your thoughts and take over your life!

Apparently food dominated the minds of the people during Jesus’ time as well. In the story from John’s gospel this morning, the people who had eaten the bread that Jesus had multiplied in the feeding of the five thousand go to Capernaum in search of Jesus. When they find him, Jesus reprimands them that they came to see him there not because their minds and hearts were filled by his mysterious presence in that miracle of a meal, but because their stomachs had been filled.

The crowd is reminded not to let their mind be focused on the bread that gets mold on it and is thrown away; the bread that fills their stomachs only for a short period of time. Jesus tells them not to work for food that perishes but to work for food that endures for eternal life that he himself will provide them with.

As is typical of a group of people insistent on getting their own way, the crowd demands that Jesus perform a sign for them; another sign. One begins to wonder if the people don’t just want to see Jesus do some sort of magic trick to entertain them or to give them what they want. It is tempting to follow this crowd in the things that we expect to see Jesus do for us sometimes too, isn’t it? Like the crowd we want visible results in the here and now, we want our stomachs and wallets filled and once that happens we can focus so much better on filling our hearts and minds, right?

So, the crowd has been reminded that what is really important in this life is not the physical bread that molds and decomposes, but the bread eternal which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Jesus further said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

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