nullPentecost 10 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 5, 2018Exodus 16:2-15, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:22-35

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Bread is easy.  Bread is abundant.  I can go to Aldi and buy a loaf of white bread for $.89.  And they won’t limit me to just one loaf, I can buy a dozen.  For a little more money I can buy Italian bread, French bread, Indian bread, Pita bread, wheat bread, sprouted bread, sour dough bread.  Bread is easy.  Bread is abundant.  We can thank our hard working farmers and their amazing machines and chemicals that produce incredible quantities of wheat.  Getting bread occupies very little of my time and effort.  I don’t think about it really.  It is not expensive and Jeannette or I can just pick it up when we go to the store.

Rewind history 2,000 years and we see that in Jesus’ time bread was a big deal.  There were no pesticides, limited fertilizers, no tractors, no $500,000 combines to harvest and thresh the grain all at once.  In Jesus’ time bread was back-breaking work. Sowing seed, hoeing weeds, praying for rain and then waiting for harvest time.  Then the hard part starts.  Cut the grain with a sickle, bundle it, carry it to the threshing floor, thresh the wheat to separate the wheat from the chaff and then toss it in the air with the winnowing fork to get the wind to blow away the chaff and then gather the grains and take the wheat to be milled into flour between two heavy millstones.

In Jesus’ time bread was difficult.  People had to work hard and long, and struggle to get bread.

Rewind another 1500 years back to the time of Moses and the Exodus.  The children of Israel have been freed from slavery to the Egyptians and are in the wilderness on their way to the promise land.  They have eaten the Passover lambs whose blood was painted over the doors to protect the children of Israel from God’s plague of the death of the first born.

The people are free, but they are hungry, and the hunger overcomes the freedom.  We can understand this.  Hunger is a real motivator.  The children of Israel are hungry and they cry out to Moses that they would rather have died in Egypt as slaves where they had enough to eat rather than die of hunger in the wilderness.

Now the children of Israel are in the wilderness and they are free, but they are hungry.  And as difficult as the struggle is for bread when you are living in one area and able to farm, the struggle for bread for a moving band of migrants is pretty much impossible.

The people are free, but they are hungry, and the hunger overcomes the freedom.  We can understand this.  Hunger is a real motivator.  The children of Israel are hungry and they cry out to Moses that they would rather have died in Egypt as slaves where they had enough to eat rather than die of hunger in the wilderness.

God provides for the children of Israel in the wilderness.  He rains down bread from heaven for the people to gather just enough for each day.  God provides enough for each day.

Just prior to our Gospel reading, Jesus feeds 5,000 men, plus women and children in the wilderness.  For these people who live in a constant struggle to get food, Jesus miraculously supplies food.  This is amazing.  Jesus multiplies five loaves into an abundance of bread; like manna from heaven.

The Lord supplies the Israelites with the bread that they need in wilderness of Sinai and the Lord supplies the crowds with the bread that they need in the wilderness by the Sea of Galilee.  The Lord, out of His mercy, does this to meet the people’s needs, and to show that He is the Lord Almighty.  It is a sign from God.  Jesus feeds the 5,000 as a sign that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  The people who eat the bread see it as a sign that Jesus is a bread machine.

In our Gospel reading from John the crowds are following Jesus, but Jesus knows why they seek after Him.  The crowds are not looking for God in Flesh; the Savior of the World.  The crowds are not looking for the King of the Jews; they are looking for a bread king.  They are looking for someone to satisfy their physical hunger.  And Jesus does satisfy their hunger, but it is a sign of what more He can do.

Jesus tells them, John 6:27 (ESV) 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”[1]

“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life.”  The children of Israel are distracted by their physical hunger and unable to see the mighty things God is doing for them in delivering them from slavery in Egypt.  Their greatest hunger; their greatest need is for the Lord’s salvation.  They eat the flesh of the sacrificial Passover lambs and are saved by the blood, but then they forget what God is doing.  God feeds them in the wilderness with bread from heaven but then they grow weary of what God is doing for them.  They grow weary of God’s salvation.  They don’t like the way God is saving them.  It is slow and boring.  They eat the manna from heaven but then lose sight of their total dependence on God and that this is a sign of God’s continuing love and it is pointing them forward to the true Bread of Life, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Jesus is declared to be the Lamb of God at His baptism in the Jordan and Jesus’ blood is applied to the cross to protect you; to save you from your sins.  Jesus provides bread for the multitude, and Jesus also is Himself the Bread of Life.  Jesus feeds you with the Bread of His Word and the Bread of His own flesh; the flesh of the Lamb of God who shed His blood for you and was sacrificed for you.

The people seeking Jesus, the bread machine, want to know what they need to do to be doing the works of God.  Jesus gives them an unsatisfying answer.

John 6:29 (ESV) 29 … “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”[2]  It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus for you.

Jesus is the Lamb of God.  Jesus is the Bread of Life.  Jesus is the true Bread from Heaven.  To do the work of God is to believe in Jesus.  Your salvation is totally dependent on Jesus.  You are totally dependent on Jesus.  Jesus came for you.  Jesus came for all people.  You hunger and thirst for righteousness and Jesus is the Bread of Life.  John 6:35 (ESV) 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.[3]

Jesus was sealed by God the Father in Baptism.  In baptism you are sealed by God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You have been set apart from this world as one who knows the truth and is fed with the Bread of Life.

This world is full of people who desperately hunger for the food of eternal life, but often they do not know it.  People hunger for the Bread of Life, but they are distracted by their other hungers and can be unaware of their most important need.  For many folks in this world it might still be physical hunger that distracts, but not so much for most of us.  In this land of abundance most of us don’t have to worry about going hungry, but there are a lot of other hungers that distract us.

Hungers are not necessarily bad in themselves, but we can start to believe the Jesus main purpose is to satisfy our hungers; our physical hungers, our emotional hungers, our sexual hungers.  We start to believe that Jesus wants us to be healthy, wealthy, wise, happy, and fulfilled.  We have a desire for physical health and that is a good thing, but it is not the most important thing.  The most important thing is eternal life with God.

The things that are most important to you are not the most important to God.  Physical, emotional and sexual hungers are just temporary issues of this life.  They are not the most important thing.  This is a hard teaching.  Jesus did not come to meet your every need the way you want it met.  Jesus came to meet your most important need.  This teaching does not please the children of Israel in the wilderness of the Exodus and they rebel.  This teaching does not please the crowds that come to Jesus seeking bread and most of them abandon Him.  This teaching does not please people today and people leave the Bread of Life to try to satisfy their temporary hungers.

People want Jesus to be easy; like going to the store to pick up a loaf of bread when you are hungry.  Jesus is simple enough for a child, but He is not easy.  People want Jesus to be a Jesus they can control, and who does what they want when they want.  People grow weary of God’s means of salvation through baptism, the Word of God and Holy Communion; it is so slow and boring.  People would rather satisfy their own hungers.  People would rather to decide for themselves what is sin and what isn’t.  Folks would rather have a Jesus that stays out of their way except when they determine that they need Him.  People want to be a part of their own salvation by doing the works that they determine they should do.  But the work of God is to believe in the one sent from heaven.  It is simple enough for a child, but it is not easy.  It is total dependence.

Believe in Jesus; He is the Bread of Life.  Jesus is life.  Jesus is eternal life.  Apart from Jesus you do not have true life.  You are one with Jesus.  One in Him; one with Him; one in baptism and one in Holy Communion.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

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