Proper 15: Believing in the Bread

Proper 15/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! One of the golden threads running through this chapter are the words very truly and believe. They are used a lot! Jesus is telling us – very truly to believe in Him.

How many of you this morning – before you sat down in a pew asked, ‘can I trust this pew not to collapse under my body weight?’ Or when you went to turn on the bathroom tap – wondered if you could trust the water that was coming out of it?

I am not sure how you go to come to believe 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 trusted in them – but only asked myself this because I knew that I would be asking you!

We all have our own ways of 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-later-type like me, you might find it easy to trust Jesus. 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 however 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 to tell his story: the apple in the story of creation, manna and quail in the desert of Exodus, 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.

Jesus is saying that he is the bread of life, his body and blood are the true food that we all need.

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. 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 experience and circumstance, wisdom is common sense that isn’t so common.

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.’

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!

Secondly, by trusting Jesus we can better understand God’s will for our lives (Eph v. 17). I don’t think that we will fully 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 the second plea to 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 led a Bible study in my last parish 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 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.

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 very shortly. We come together as His family to share in the meal so let us be trusting, wise, understanding and thankful.

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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