Trinity 12: Summer Eating: Jesus, The Bread of Life

This morning’s offering on 1 Kings, Ephesians 5 and John 6. Jesus is still banging on about being the bread of life!

19/8/18
Trinity 12

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

This is Sunday four of five in John 6! I re-read the whole thing this morning just to remind myself of the wider significance of this rather long and dense chapter. It seems to repeat on itself with all the talk of bread and wine – eating and drinking the living body and blood of Jesus.

The golden thread that runs through this chapter are the words very truly and believe. They are used a lot! Jesus is telling us – very truly to trust in Him.
How many of you this morning – before you sat down in a pew or chair asked, ‘can I trust this pew or chair not to collapse under my body weight?’ Or when you went to turn on the bathroom tap this morning – wondered if you could trust the water that was coming out of it?

I am not sure how you go come to trust in people or things – let alone God. What is your process? I am naturally and rather naively a trusting person. I tend to trust people from the start – it doesn’t take much to win my trust – I will take what I see at face value.

I trust the water that comes out of the tap will be perfectly fine to drink; I did think about the engineering and craftsmanship of the pews and chairs and trusted in them – but only asked myself this because I knew that I would be asking you!

However – you break my trust, let me down, mess around with my trusting nature and it’s gone and good luck trying to get it back. I will forgive you – but it is unlikely I will trust you again.

Some of you might be more suspicious of others – a bit slower to trust. You need some proof before you will trust someone or something. Your trust needs to be earned and once it is – it is to be valued and hung on to.

We all have our own ways for coming to trust things and people. Maybe some of us trust the wrong things or don’t consider the things we trust until they prove themselves to be untrustworthy. Maybe some of us set the bar so high that we trust almost nothing and no one.

The theme for this morning is to look at the implications of putting our trust in Jesus, the bread of life. I have just had us think about how we trust in people and things. It is likely that these processes can and will influence how we trust Jesus.

If you are a trust-first-ask-questions-type like me – you might find it easy to trust Jesus. But what about when it looks like that trust has been broken – something that we were trusting him for doesn’t come through the way we thought it would or wanted it to?

If you are a slow-truster – what proof do you need to be satisfied that Jesus is trustworthy?

Jesus wants us to trust him – for anything and everything, all the time and forever and He is willing to do anything for us to do that.

There could be a lot of ways to get us to do that – but Jesus announces that people need to eat his flesh and drink his blood! Probably not the tactic I would have used!

Jesus intended to shock his audience – this reference to flesh and blood as food would have been particularly startling to the Jewish culture Jesus was speaking into. Jesus’ eating habits were causing some comment at the time as well – he was seen as a glutton and drunkard who dined in bad company.

The Jewish people were particularly sensitive to food issues – a glance in the OT shows us the vast number of rituals and taboos surrounding food preparation and what could and couldn’t be eaten.

God has always used food – the apple in the story of creation, manna and quail in desert, the Passover meal of lamb and unleavened bread. In the NT – the stories of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fish is told 6 times in the 4 Gospels. Jesus eating the grain on the Sabbath. The Last Supper is well – about supper. All these stories have food at the heart of them.

‘You are what you eat,’ so the saying goes. Our modern, Western culture also has some issues with food. We know that not all food is good for us, we are anxious about additives, allergies, is it organic? Genetically modified? Were the chickens that laid the eggs clucking merrily in a free-range field? Is it Gluten free? Dairy free? Vegetarian? Vegan? Did it start life too near a motorway or was it flown in from half-way around the world? We spend a lot of time worrying where our next meal is coming from!

What we eat is important – no doubt about it. What we eat also shows – don’t go staring at each other or make judgments – but what we eat or don’t eat shows up in our physical appearance.
If we are feeding on the body and blood of Jesus there should be some evidence for it in our lives – how we behave in certain situations, our moral code should be aligned with his, how we treat people.

What then are the implications for feeding on the body and blood of Jesus? The Ephesians reading gives us 3 ways that trusting in and feeding on Jesus will benefit our lives.

Firstly: Wisdom – this is a whole other sermon on its own. How do you think about wisdom? It is different from knowledge – which is facts and figures – the things we get from education. Wisdom is deeper than that – it is a knowing that comes from the whole of an experience, wisdom is common sense that isn’t so common; the ability to make smart decisions.

Ephesians tells us that we are to live not as unwise but as wise people (v15) and this means being careful in how we live. I don’t know about you – but I have never prayed a pray to the effect ‘Dear Lord, I would like to do more stupid things – please help me do this. Amen.’

Nor have I ever been in a church service with an altar call or words of knowledge like ‘I just get a sense that someone here has been foolish this week – you might have said or thought or done something dumb. Would you come to the front please so we can lay hands on and pray for you so we can release you from your stupidity?’

It’s embarrassing – especially when it seems to come so naturally! We don’t like to admit to the dumb things we do or say. I need forgiveness from God and from the victims of my stupidity.

In the 2 Kings reading we have the famous story of Solomon who has been newly installed as king after the death of his father David. Solomon is standing before the Lord and all the assembly of Israel and could have asked for anything – more riches, power, long-life, land, possession – whatever he wanted. But Solomon asked for wisdom – the one thing he knew he needed to do the job he had been called to do.

You don’t need to be smart to ask for wisdom. We all face situations where we need more wisdom than what we currently have to make the right or best decision. Pray for it! It greatly pleased God that Solomon prayed – so much so that He granted him the wisdom and much more.

Secondly – by trusting Jesus we can better understanding God’s will for our lives (Eph v. 17). I don’t think that we will fully every understand what we are doing on earth apart from God’s plans and purposes.

If we want to know what we are supposed to do – then we need to be close to Jesus, feeding and following him. Notice that again there is a second plea avoid foolishness. ‘So do not be foolish, v 17 starts, but understand what the will of the Lord is. To avoid foolishness and understand God’s will for our lives – we need wisdom. Wisdom comes from trust. Trust comes from feeding on the body and blood of Jesus.

How are you doing on working out God’s will? Not always easy but try to see it as a journey. Maybe a slow one at times – but it is not a race. But know that God loves you and has a will for your life. He is not hiding it or keeping it from you – but it is something that needs to be worked out.

Thirdly – trusting in Jesus helps us in being thankful and filled with the Spirit. Ephesians v 20 ‘always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Always and everything.

I lead a Bible study last summer that included a ‘thankfulness exercise’ where we divided our current age by 4. Then in each quarter of our lives, we had to write down the things/events/people that we were thankful for. It was quite an enlightening exercise. I had much more to be thankful for as I thought through each of my quarters. This might be helpful if you find yourself struggling to be thankful to God.

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful when we are facing difficulties and there doesn’t seem to be much to say thanks for. But don’t forget the small things! Being thankful for the small things can only help us to be thankful for the big things. It is also creates consistency in us.

Don’t let the troubles in the present wipe your memory of the good things in the past. God is faithful and has done things we should all be thankful for – regardless of our current situation. He can be trusted.

If we live in the Spirit, we will never be over or under fed. The body and blood of Jesus will always satisfy, every need we can ever have. Feeding on Jesus is our only hope. What the world offers us is not real food as it will not satisfy – however much we eat.

We need wisdom to understand that. There is no life in us otherwise – back to John 6:51: I am the living bread that came down from heaven and for this we can be thankful.

In a nutshell – Jesus is asking us this morning if we trust Him. Very truly he is telling us over and over again in John 6 that He is the bread of life, we are to believe in the one sent from God who gives us the bread of heaven. Himself.

What does trusting in Jesus mean for us? It effects the way we live in three ways: wisdom – by living wisely and asking for God’s wisdom in all our circumstances we can work out His purposes for our lives. We all need wisdom and the truest wisdom we can ever get comes from God.
So do not be foolish! Understanding God’s will for our lives helps us to live better and on purpose. What are we doing here? Again – without understanding God’s purpose we can fall into all sorts of folly and foolishness.

Finally, being thankful and giving thanks. When we give thanks to God we are building trust in Him that he will provide all that we need. In the big and the small stuff. We generally thank people if we have enjoyed a meal together – Jesus has given us the ultimate meal – one that we will all share in very shortly. We come together as His family to share in the meal so let us be trusting, wise, understanding and thankful.
Amen.

Author: Sue Lepp

Newly appointed Priest-in-Charge of the Hambleden Valley Group of Churches and will start later in January 2021. Time for a new start at the beginning of a new year. I served my curacy in the Parish of Langley Marish and trained at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Former Nurse in both Canada and the UK. Specialised in Palliative Care, Gynaecology-Oncology and a bit of Orthopaedics (just to keep me travelling). Worked as a MacMillan Nurse Specialist in a few specialities in London.

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