Original post at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/hYvZi/~3/m9GnDGTlTJE/john-635-41-51-sermon-bread-of-life.html
The Bread of Life Part II
There are a total of 7 “I am” sayings in the Gospel of
John. Seven times Jesus describes
himself. Those statements are…
I am the light of the world
I am the resurrection and the life
I am the way, the truth, and the life
All of these seven sayings are metaphors which are very
common in John’s gospel. A metaphor is a
figure of speed in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it
is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.
For example you probably have heard this
metaphors before. “She is drowning in a
sea of love.” Does this mean there is a
woman drowning, which means she is breathing in liquid, somewhere out
there? Does that mean there is a liquid
called love that he is breathing in? No,
the metaphor points to the fact that this woman is so caught up in love that it
is consuming her.
Here is another, this one is a little more poetic and
comes from the works of William Shakespeare.
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
This is simply a commentary
on life and a way to describe it. Life
is like a play (which is actually a simile and not a metaphor but I hope you
get the picture.
In John’s gospel there
are tons of metaphors. Jesus uses them
all the time to describe who he is. John
uses this to give us a rich understanding and picture of God’s son but also it
can make Jesus hard to figure out and understand. “I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me,
he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
So we get this image that Jesus is a gate we
go through to find pasture. That gives
us insight but only if you understanding what it means to find pasture. If you don’t know what that means that can
leave you wondering. During my first
sermon here I talked a lot about myself.
I told you who I was and I used phrases like, I am a father of two
kids. I am a husband for ten years. Those were direct sayings that allowed you to
get to know me. But I didn’t say things
like “I am the good shepherd,” or “I am the chief.” I absolutely would not do what Jesus does in
this text and say “feed on me.” But that
is what he does when he looks at those people around him and says, “I am the
bread of life.”
So what was it like to make bread this week? I heard a lot of you were intrigued by
it. Connie emailed me about this idea to
have the bread maker going during the service to fill up our nostrils with warm
baking bread. Ahh, it smells so good! How many of you were thinking about what
Jesus says about him being bread? As you
went through the steps of baking and put your hands into the warm dough filled
with active yeast, did you think of Jesus saying “I am the bread of life?” As you took the flour, water and yeast and
added the time, temperature and ingredients to it, did you think about the one
who sustains us for eternity?
Bishop Will Willimon says, "Christianity is not a
spiritual religion; it is an incarnational religion. It believes that God has a
body, God takes up space, God will not remain ethereal and vague. This Gospel (John's)
opens with the declaration, "The Word became flesh and dwelt amount
John’s gospel reminds us that God takes up
space in our lives. He isn’t just an
idea, a figure we dreamed up in our minds to compensate for our weakness, but
has breathed our air, knows how it is to feel, and wants to take up room in our
Dietrich Bonheoffer was a theologian in Germany during
World War II and was killed in a prison camp because he stepped out on faith
and spoke out against Hitler’s regime.
He puts it this way, “The body of Christ takes up space. That is, the body of Christ makes
footprints. A truth, a doctrine, or a
religion needs no space for themselves.
They are disembodied amputees – that is all – but the incarnate Christ
needs not only ears or a heart, but living people who will follow him.”
Christ looks at the people around him, who
were searching for him and he said, “I am the living bread that came down from
heaven. Whoever eats this bread will
live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my
flesh.” He looks at them and says, “feed
on me.” “Take, eat, this is my body
given for you.”
The people who ate the five loaves and two fish were
hungry for more of this Jesus so they searched for them. We come here today hungry to know the God who
is in our midst and at times interrupts our lives as he tries to wedge himself
into and find room in our hearts. The
Christian faith is not just an idea or a doctrine, it is an encounter with
something, with someone, with the three-in-one God who here in our presence
This is the problem with God, he won’t let us go. He has all the right too. If God decided to take humanity to court for
a legal separation, we wouldn’t have a foot to stand on. We constantly disobey, disown, and think we
are the creators instead of the created.
Yet there God is, still trying to win us over. I know countess stories of people who have
been below rock bottom only to find Jesus there. They are suffering depression, alcoholism,
addiction, pain beyond belief and life is simply an act of suffering. Maybe you can relate to that. When they are so far down that they don’t
feel worthy of anything, there Christ is offering a hand out and ready to pour
grace into their thirsty souls. There
God is ready to walk right into their hearts and give them the life of the
world bread they are truly hungry for.
Jesus is always right there, even when we are truly beyond hungry and
are starving for forgiveness and grace, or meaning and belonging.
Let’s face it, as I preached last week I, like you, did not
realize that one of our seats would be permanently empty. Mildred’s death is a shock to us all. I did not want to end my first month as your
minister walking through what we have been through last week. There is still plenty of mourning to go and
pain to get through. I did not want to
show up today and act like that event is in our rearview mirror. It is still raw, it is still fresh. Part of me was glad that one of her last acts
on earth was feasting on the bread of life.
It was in a moment of communion with God that she slipped from this
world to the next. And where has God
been in all of this? Where has the Holy
Spirit been active? Right here in your
lives, in my life, in the lives of everyone who came to the viewing and all who
mourn. Jesus never leaves us and is
constantly offering us the bread of life to live on.
From February 1 to March 2, 2003 Morgan Spurlock ate
nothing but McDonald’s. He filmed the
dramatic effects it had on his body and psyche.
You can see this in the documentary film, Super Size Me.
month he visited McDonald’s three times a day and ate everything on the menu at
least once. During this month he gained
24.5 pounds and an increase in his body mass of 13%. His cholesterol level jumped to 230 and he
experienced other physical difficulties.
We laugh at this a little but the truth is that for that month he
consumed the bread of death. He filled
himself up with things that were bad for him.
It is easy for us to connect those dots. Too much McDonald’s is bad for you. Yet how can we look at our lives and be blind
to the fact that we are feasting on just as bad metaphorical foods? How many of us are in a relationship that we
shouldn’t be in because it is physically harmful to our bodies or to our
children? How many of us suffer from
smaller addictions that we cannot break and if we were truly honest with
ourselves hold a little tougher grip on our lives than we like to admit? How many of us find it too easy to slip into
bad habits that we know are not good for us?
How many of us are so in debt that cringe every time we open the mailbox
or answer the phone? Are we filling our
lives up with the bread of death? Maybe
I’m not talking about you but I guarantee you know someone who fits those
On the altar today we see stacks of homemade bread. Our senses are on overload as we see and
smell the wonders of bread. We had to
move some things off the altar to make room for this feast of the eyes. Peter Reinhart says that “bread is a
transformational food.” I hope you saw
that as you worked through the stages of baking; through the degassing, the
mixing, the forming, and the baking.
Ingredients that don’t look like anything come together and make
something. What was lifeless then had
The same is true with the bread of life. Those who are truly hungry are able to go
through that transformation. In the
verses today Jesus says, “Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and they
died. This is the bread that comes down
from heaven so that whoever eats from it will never die.” What use to send us to the grave is now going
to send us to life. Jesus, becoming the
bread of life, and then giving up his life for the world is the cornerstone of
this transformation. This sacrificial
act secured eternal life for us all and now he freely offers it to the all of
us. But I don’t want to jump ahead too
much. We will get to more of that next
week but we need to realizes that the transformation that Christ offers is
unlike anything else in this world.
Peter Reinhart was on a mission to figure out how to
bring out the best flavor in wheat bread.
He was attempting to create something that is good for us and taste
great. He said it is hard to take the
healthiest part of wheat, the bran which is filled with germ and fiber, and
turn it into something with lots of flavor.
The white part of wheat which is what makes white bread is easy. It is purely starch with is really just sugar. Sugar tastes great in all its forms. That is why Wonder Bread is so wonderful. But to get to the good stuff that our bodies
need, that takes special skills, and an artists touch.
This world has a lot to offer us. We can see a lot of white bread around in our
world. Materialism, greed, ego,
politics, celebrity, and power all taste great.
They are easy to partake in and understand why so many people like
it. Yet that is not what sustains. The bread of life is what does much more than
the rest of the world. Jesus looks at
our world and he says, “I am the bread of life.” He is what we need to sustain ourselves for
eternity. He is looking for those places
in our lives where he can set up shop and intrude. He is looking for where he can intrude in
order to wake us up to what he is offering.
He is standing right next to us waiting on us to finally admit that we
cannot do it on our own and will be happy to take over our lives if we only
give him a chance. The bread of life
offers us real true life-giving nourishment, if we only eat.
Metaphors can be hard to understand. They don’t just come out and say it. We have to learn about the topic the metaphor
points to better understand how it points out the reality it is suppose to. As you baked this week do you understand what
Jesus means when he says “I am the bread of life?” As you cut off a slice later on today and put
butter or jelly on it, will you understand how the bread of life feeds us what
we truly need in this world? Jesus says
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live
forever.” We need that bread, Lord give
us this bread always.
And all God’s people said, Amen.