nullPentecost 12 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 12, 2018
1 Kings 19:108, Ephesians 4:17-5:2, John 6:35-51

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What do you like to do to escape from reality for a while?  Vacation?  I know I really enjoyed my time sitting on the beach this summer reading a spy novel and not thinking about much of anything.  What do you do to escape from reality?  A movie is a good break for a couple of hours.  Maybe the fair?  The circus?  The symphony?  Golf?  Video games?  Television?  Word puzzles?  We all have ways we try to escape from reality for a bit.  Some are harmless and others can be pretty harmful when it gets obsessive or when we use drugs or drunkenness to numb us to the harshness of reality.  There are good ways and bad ways to escape, but we all, at times, want to escape from reality.  But why?

We want to escape because the reality of this life can be harsh.  Life is hard.  There is an abundance of trouble in this life.  Most times we can manage fairly well, but there are the times when the realities of this life are devastatingly hard and we cannot escape no matter what we try.

Life is hard.  We struggle on and off with sorrow and sickness and there is one constant dark cloud in this life and that is the shadow of death.  No one gets out of this alive and the knowledge that you live in the valley of the shadow of death makes life difficult.

For those who know they are created by a loving God and redeemed through the blood of Jesus, death it is still a terrible reality, but in Christ there is a greater reality than this life and death.  For believers in Jesus there is comfort in the valley of the shadow of death.  In Christ there is a greater reality than death and in that greater reality we have our hope and our peace; that peace which is beyond understanding even in the face of the worst that life can bring.

For people that believe that we are simply balls of stardust formed accidently through an endless series of random mutations the reality of death is crushing.  When people believe that this life is all there is to reality, it changes the way they think and act and live.  It causes folks to live for the moment.  In our Epistle lesson Paul warns the church in Ephesus.  Ephesians 4:17-19 (ESV) 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.[1]  We see this way of thinking blossoming in our world today as more and more people turn away from bread of life in order to satisfy their own hungers.  You must stay on guard that you do not fall back into this way of thinking and living.

The reality of this life is hard, but you have the greater reality of Christ.  God has drawn you to Himself.  He invites you to come to Him.  He invites you to receive the gifts of the Lord Jesus.  “Come to me,” Jesus says.  And this can sound like a command, but only in the sense that telling a starving person, “come and eat,” is a command.

You have been sealed by the Lord Jesus in the waters of baptism and now you live as a baptized child of God; you live right now in the Kingdom of Heaven; right now in the reign of God.  Right now you have the promise of eternal life.  Right now you have freedom in Christ to love and serve others in the confidence of eternal life.

            Jesus’ reality is for this life and beyond.  For people who are only focused on the here and now, Jesus makes no sense because they are only concerned about satisfying their physical, emotional, and sexual hungers.  They think, if Jesus isn’t all about satisfying their hungers, then what good is he?  But you know the truth.  Jesus is the greater reality.

The Jews there with Jesus that day thought He was crazy.  Jesus says he is the bread that came down from heaven.  They say, “Bread from heaven?!?”  How can this man be the bread that came down from heaven?  We know this guy.  We can see him with our eyes.  This is Jesus, from Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary.  We know Him.  We’ve known Him for 30 some years.  What’s all this about coming down from heaven?  Despite seeing and experiencing Jesus’ great miracle of feeding the crowd of 5,000, the people cannot see beyond the reality of this life.  They ate the miraculous bread but they cannot see beyond the physical bread.  They are missing the Bread of Life.  They are missing the greater reality; the deeper reality; the eternal reality.  This is what Jesus is trying to tell them.

There is a reality beyond what we can see and touch; there is eternal life in Christ Jesus.  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.[2]

Jesus’ reality is for this life and beyond.  For people who are only focused on the here and now, Jesus makes no sense because they are only concerned about satisfying their physical, emotional, and sexual hungers.  They think, if Jesus isn’t all about satisfying their hungers, then what good is he?  But you know the truth.  Jesus is the greater reality.

You know the reality of Jesus.  You know that Jesus is the bread of life.  You know that the grave is not the end of the story for you or your loved ones.  You know that on the last day Jesus will raise you from the dead to live with Him forever in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  You eat of the bread of life which is Jesus:  This greater reality is found in Jesus’ words of forgiveness, and in His body and blood in Holy Communion.  You live in the new reality of eternal life in Christ.  Jesus teaches, John 6:47-51 (ESV) 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”[3]

There is a great chasm between the reality of this world with all its troubles and the reality of eternal life with Jesus.  Unless Jesus returns soon you will not fully bridge that chasm except through your death, your rest in the grave, and your resurrection on the last day.  But you do get glimpses at the reality of eternal life with Christ.  As you gather in worship each Sunday you bridge the chasm a bit.  You sing with the angels and archangels.  You hear the sweet, sweet words of forgiveness of sins from Jesus.  You sing the words of the angels announcing Jesus’ birth.  You greet one another with the peace of Jesus’ greater reality.  You sing hymns about Jesus dying for you and rising for you to conquer death.  You speak and sing the words of eternal life.  You speak and sing about God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You take into your body the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.  Jesus becomes one with you in the greater reality of eternal life.  The Divine Service each Sunday is God coming to you in this life to give you a foretaste of your eternal future with Him.  It is Jesus coming to you to strengthen you and preserve you in true faith to life everlasting.  The best escape from the harsh realities of this life is time together in worship experiencing again and again the greater reality of eternal life with Christ.

The troubles of this life are very real troubles; they are very real problems, and they cause you very real pain and suffering and heartache, but knowing that you are the creation of a loving God who has redeemed you and sealed you as His child brings profound joy even in the midst of sickness and trouble and tragedy.  Knowing you currently have as your inheritance and possession eternal life with God brings peace in the midst of deep sadness and fear and grief.  It brings joy that loves and serves others even in the midst of struggle.  The troubles of this life are very real, but they cannot rob you of the eternal joy of knowing that you are sealed in Holy Baptism as a child of God.  Even with all you face with the realities of this life you live with the eternal joy of knowing you are part of a deeper, greater reality.  You have the reality of eternal life in Christ.  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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