Pentecost 11 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
August 8, 2021
1 Kings 19:1-8, Ephesians 4:17-5:2, John 6:35-51

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            In William Shakespeare’s play, “Julius Caesar”, Caesar remarks, concerning a senator and general, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look.  He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”  Cassius is ambitious and hungry for power.  He is, indeed, leading a plot to assassinate Caesar on the Ides of March. 

            So much of our society is built on you staying hungry; always wanting more, more, more.  More stuff, more experiences, more power.  There is a pressure to be successful; to continually keep moving up the ladder of achievement to ever higher and higher heights.  This has practical effects.  The birthrate in America is dropping because folks are putting off having children until they get their careers on track and their finances in order. Birthrates are lowest in areas with strong job markets. 

            Financial achievement becomes so very important that nothing else can get in the way.  The goal of life becomes the accumulation of more and better stuff.  There is a hunger and thirst to have more and more and to do more and more always trying to satisfy the hunger that gnaws at you from within.  This is a powerful force pushing you to accumulate and experience more and more and more and to never be content with what you have. 

Many churches have bought into this force of life and preach a message of health and wealth; a gospel of prosperity.  They teach that if you are faithful enough, God will bless you with financial success.  The American dream becomes the good news.  The message is not about forgiveness of sins through Jesus but about getting more money.  After all, who really wants to hear that they are a sinner?  People want to be successful.  But this whole approach is spiritually bankrupt because the hunger and thirst for more and more is not from God. 

            A few years ago the expression YOLO became popular.  YOLO, you only live once.  YOLO became an excuse for doing just about anything.  Should I buy that car or house or phone or clothing I really cannot afford? Well, YOLO.  Should I hook up with this cute person flirting with me?  YOLO.  Should I see how fast my car will go?  YOLO.  You only live once…death is coming for you…you cannot wait…you do not know how much time you have.  As the band Kansas once sang, “All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.  Dust in the wind.  All we are is dust in the wind.”  Dust in the wind.  Martin Franzman says this another way in our sermon hymn today, life is “an aimless mote, a deathward drift from futile birth.” 

As popular as the saying became, YOLO is wrong. You do not only live once.  Life is not just dust in the wind.  Life is not just an aimless mote; a deathward drift from futile birth.  God’s Word means life triumphant is hurled in splendor through the broken world.  This life is not all that there is for you because you have Jesus who is the Bread of Life. 

The world hates contentment; it wants you to hunger and thirst for things, for experiences, for power.  The world wants you discontent so that you will buy whatever new shiny thing they want to sell you.  So that you will seek power despite the consequences.  So that you will chase after every fleeting pleasure the world offers for fear of missing out on something.  Instead of YOLO, now a more popular phrase is FOMO, fear of missing out, driven especially by social media.  FOMO is also used as an excuse to hunger and thirst for the things of this world.

The world hates contentment and that is exactly what Jesus offers.  St. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:6–10 (ESV)  6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 

Jesus brings contentment.  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.  John 6:40 (ESV)  40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 

            In Christ you have eternal life.  You believe in Jesus.  You have been baptized into Christ.  You have the Bread of Life.  On the Last Day Jesus will raise you from the dead.  Your body will be raised up imperishable.  As you hear on Ash Wednesday, dust you are and to dust you shall return. When you die your body is returned to the earth, but it will not remain there forever.  Just as Jesus created Adam out of the dust of the earth Jesus will raise your body up from the dust.  Your remains will be raised imperishable and will be reunited with your spirit to live forever in the heavenly city of New Jerusalem. 

            So YOLO is untrue.  You don’t only live once.  You will be raised from the dead.  You only live forever.  FOMO is also misguided.  What people should fear is missing out on going to be with the saints in heaven on the Last Day.  They should fear missing out on eternity with the Lord rather than being with the Devil and all his angels in the lake of fire.

            As a baptized believer in Jesus you are right now in the Kingdom of Heaven.  You have eternal life.  When you die, your body is buried in the ground and your spirit goes to be with the Lord to wait for the Last Day when your body will be raised from the dead and, clothed in the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness, the saints will go marching into the heavenly city and you will be in the number. 

            Too often, I fear, we are led to believe that the goal of the Christian life is to die and go to heaven, but that is getting ahead of itself. When a Christian dies, their body rests in peace, and their spirit is with the Lord.  But this is not the end.  Jesus has not yet returned.  Death still has mastery in the world.  Evil still exists.  Their body is still in the grave.  But it will not stay there.  The best is yet to come.  Three times in our Gospel reading this morning Jesus says He will raise you up on the Last Day. 

            So YOLO is untrue.  You don’t only live once.  You will be raised from the dead.  You only live forever.  FOMO is also misguided.  What people should fear is missing out on going to be with the saints in heaven on the Last Day.  They should fear missing out on eternity with the Lord rather than being with the Devil and all his angels in the lake of fire. 

            Jesus says, John 6:51 (ESV)  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.” 

            Jesus comes to our hall of death and breathes our poisoned air and drinks the world’s dark, strangling despair.  Jesus is laid in a grave after being crucified and it looks like death and despair have won, but Jesus rises from the dead.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, alleluia.

            Jesus gives His own flesh into death on the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.  He rises from the dead as the first fruits from the grave.  He gives you His very body to eat and His blood to drink in His Holy Supper.  Jesus is the bread of life.  Jesus gives you the bread of life and you have eternal life in Him.  Jesus will raise you from the dead on the Last Day.  

            So this life is not all that there is.  You have eternal life.  Your body will be raised from the dead as you confess in the creeds, “I believe… in the resurrection of the body.  You only live forever.  You do not need to hunger and thirst for every new thing that the world tries to sell you or get you to chase after.  You are freed from the love of money which is the root of all kinds of evil.  In Christ, you are content in life with what God has given you.  In Christ you use money and love people instead of the other way around.  In Christ you are content.  Enjoy the life that you have.  As Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 5:18 (ESV) 18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.  

            You have the Bread of Life.  You have eternal life.  Rejoice and do what you have been given you to do.  Work hard as a student or worker, but not so hard you neglect your other vocations in life of child, parent, grandparent, friend, brother or sister in Christ.  Know you are redeemed by Jesus, you have the Bread of Life, you will be raised from the dead on the Last Day.  Remember to enjoy the life that you have… because you only live forever.  Amen. 

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