Sunday, 16 December 2012

Jesus the Bread of Life

Advent 3 year C Sermon John 6:25-33 
How costly was it for our God
to become flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. For some part of the creator of the universe…to assume our flesh and our blood and our human frailty…so the message of God’s love for us and God’s purposes…could be delivered in person. How dearly did God pay… to make this happen?

It’s a question worth asking in this Advent season…
as we look forward to Christmas
and the celebration of Jesus birth

At a time when God’s chosen people had turned away from their calling to be a light to the world… a time when all creation groaned in the Kingdom of Caesar. How high a price would God pay… so all humanity might be reconciled with him and with one another.

The most powerful answer to this question was given
one Sunday morning in the middle of worship… in a beautiful old church…with the sun light shafting across the sanctuary …lighting the Communion table…

when the congregation sat down after the third hymn…
[Put on scarf. Pick up bread wrapped in cloth.]

out from the shadows comes a young woman dressed in a hessian gown…her face painted white like a clown with tears in the form of hearts falling from her eyes…
she is carrying a tiny bundle to which she coos tenderly …lovingly.

The woman hesitates in front of the Communion Table…
and with something like sadness and wonder…she gazes at the plate of bread… and the chalice of wine
glinting in the sunbeams…

she leans over the freshly baked loaf …and inhales deeply.

She looks up… suddenly realising people are watching her from the pews… she smiles shyly…as she looks into their eyes one by one…

And then she holds her precious bundle out to the congregation…as if she’s offering it to them…
but no one moves…

gently and tenderly she unwraps the swaddling clothes…
And grasping the ends of the little loaf she pulls the bread apart.


Jesus said I am the bread of life…

In the breaking of bread today we’re reminded of the true cost of the gift we receive this Christmas as God comes toward us in Jesus.

And in the taking of bread and wine
we’re connected
not only with the body and blood Christ…
but with one another… in the flesh and the blood we share with all humankind…with every man woman and child
on the face of the earth…

The loaf and the chalice we share…are the bread of life and the cup of salvation poured out for the forgiveness of sins by our very God. [pause]

You know the ancient Hebrew people… used to call the books of Moses… the bread of life…but late on that day after feeding the five thousand…Jesus declares himself to be the bread of life… eternal life… who would satisfy our hunger

While the Jews to which he speaks believe eternal life relates only to the last day…the age to come. John’s Gospel declares the day of salvation has arrived in the person of Jesus... God’s future eternity has broken into history.

And we hear defiant words…that the "bread of life" is not
to be found in the Law but in Jesus the living bread, who gives eternal life to those who believe right now…only by faith. As Paul reminds us…eternal life dwells in Him only "in faith." It’s not merely a quality of his humanity. And just as in the midst of his sinfulness he is righteous, so in the midst of his self-evident mortality he has life.

By faith like Paul we are what we are not. In ourselves we are neither righteous and nor immortal, but in Christ we are both.

Those who followed Jesus couldn’t believe it was so simple…nor could many bear to hear what seemed to be the blasphemy and insanity of Jesus’ claim to be the bread of life himself. Many turned their backs on him when he tells them it’s not Moses who’s given you the bread from heaven, but my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. 

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Once again in as we await the celebration of the birth of Christ…our hunger draws us to this table so we might see what the Kingdom of God looks like. And so that we nourished by Christ’s body may understand what it means to be broken and shared for our community and our world.

Let us sing. Come now Lord Jesus.