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Pentecost 12 2021 Proper 15
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
August 15, 2021
Proverbs 9:1-10, Ephesians 5:6-21, John 6:51-69

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            Two words seem to have gained tremendous power lately.  “I’m offended.”  If you are having a discussion or debate with someone and they say, “I’m offended,” you can feel a great deal of pressure back off, “Oh no!  I don’t want to offend you.”  There is great pressure to be nice, and back off of your arguments, and change what you are saying in order to not hurt the other person’s feelings.  Because when someone says, “I’m offended,” what they often mean is that you disagree with them and they don’t like that, and their feelings are hurt. 

            Now sometimes when people are offended it might be because you are truly being a jerk — not that that would ever happen to me — but I fear too often these days, people are offended because you are speaking the truth, and they don’t like the truth, and they want you to be quiet. 

            In John 6 the people are offended by Jesus.  They are offended because they think they know Him.  They are offended by Jesus’ teachings.  They are offended because Jesus is demanding a complete connection of their lives with His.  They are offended, but Jesus never backs off from His teachings because as Pastor Jeffrey Hemmer writes in his book, “Man Up”, Jesus is not nice, but He is good. 

            The Jews grumble because Jesus says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” But they know this Jesus.  They know His parents.  They know where He grew up.  How can Jesus now claim that He came down from heaven?  They are offended by Jesus’ audacity and they grumble. 

There is a danger here for you as well.  You are tempted to be offended by Jesus when He is not who you want Him to be.  It is easy to love baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem.  Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes feels like someone you can get your arms around; someone you can control.  Jesus as a baby is attractive because He is not making any demands of you. 

Jesus as the Good Shepherd is also a popular image.  Jesus caring for you, picking you up when you have fallen down, comforting you when things are going badly.  Easter Jesus is popular.  The resurrected Jesus is a great comfort.  Jesus conquers death.  Easter Jesus is a joyous, triumphant Jesus.  It is interesting that the most well-attended worship services each year are Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday.  And this is good and we should indeed celebrate Jesus’ birth and His resurrection.  We should be comforted by Jesus the Good Shepherd.  But there is more to Jesus. 

There is preaching Jesus calling you to repent and believe the Gospel.  There is Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaching, Matthew 5:44 (ESV) 44 … Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  There is Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Jesus being betrayed and arrested and beaten and mocked and whipped and crowned with thorns and cruelly nailed to the cross to slowly die… for your sins. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Jesus is offensive because if He is suffering and dying because of your sins.  This is offensive because it means — that you are a sinner.  Who does Jesus think He is that He dies for your sin?  Who is He to call you to repent of your sin? 

            In our Gospel reading the people are offended by Jesus’ teachings because they do not understand Him.  Jesus says, John 6:51-52 (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.”  52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  

Eat Jesus’ flesh???  This just doesn’t make sense in the regular, human way of thinking.  You want to think that if you cannot understand something on its face value, it must not be true.  It is easy to fall into this way of thinking.  There are many things that God teaches that do not make logical sense and you are tempted to eliminate anything you cannot understand.  How could God create the world in seven days? That doesn’t make sense.  It must not be true.  How could God cause a global flood, part the Red Sea, take Elijah up to heaven in a flaming chariot?  How could Jesus turn water into wine, heal the sick, raise the dead?  It does not make sense…it must not be true.  How can the water and word in Holy Baptism save you? How can Jesus give His Body and Blood in, with and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion?  It is too easy to forget that God is God and you are not. It is too easy to forget the words of the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 

Jesus is teaching the people in a deep, powerful way.  He is speaking with profound images.  The Lord’s Supper has not yet been established, but that is coming, and we can see foreshadowing here of the eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Supper.  But what does it mean for Jesus’ followers on that day?  Martin Luther writes about this text, “To eat is synonymous here with to believe.”

            John 6:53–58 (ESV)  53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”  John 6:60 (ESV) 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”  The word “disciple” here means just any follower of Jesus, not particularly one of the 12. 

Jesus is teaching the people in a deep, powerful way.  He is speaking with profound images.  The Lord’s Supper has not yet been established, but that is coming, and we can see foreshadowing here of the eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Supper.  But what does it mean for Jesus’ followers on that day?  Martin Luther writes about this text, “To eat is synonymous here with to believe.”[1]

            To eat the bread of life is to believe that Jesus is God in flesh, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  Feeding on Jesus’ flesh and blood is to believe He is your Savior from sin and gives you eternal life.  It wouldn’t seem that this could be offensive, but it is.  The offensive part of believing in Jesus is the totality of belief.  You cannot just believe in Jesus a little.  You cannot just believe in Jesus on Sunday morning.  You cannot just believe in Jesus when it is convenient and keep Him tucked away on a shelf the rest of the time.  To believe in Jesus is to be fully reliant on Jesus.  To believe in Jesus is to lose yourself in Him; to lose your autonomy.  Believing in Jesus means you are no longer in charge of you.  You no longer get to do what you want to do, but rather you get to do what you want to do as a believer in Jesus.  This is offensive to your old sinful self who wants to be in charge.  Your old, sinful self wants to call the shots. Your old sinful self is offended that Jesus wants all of you.   

Jesus is offensive.  He wants you. He wants all of you.  You do not get to compartmentalize your money, or your sexual matters, or your anger, or your selfishness, and keep it away from Jesus’ authority.  Jesus wants all of you; the good, the bad and the ugly.  Jesus died for your ugliest sin that you do not want anyone, even Him, to know about.  But He does know your deepest, darkest, secret sin, and He forgives that sin with His own blood shed for you.  Repent and believe the Good News.   The Good News is that Jesus redeems you completely and calls you to live as a redeemed child of God; a follower of Jesus.

The Good News is that Jesus redeems you 100 percent and yet people find this offensive because they so desperately want to have a part in saving themselves. Their pride leads them to believe they must do something…anything… to help save themselves.  But there is nothing to do.  Jesus has done it all.  

Jesus is offensive because He is not nice, but He is good.  He tells you the truth that you are a sinner who needs a savior.  Jesus is the Savior come for you.  Jesus fully gives Himself on the cross to save you completely.  Jesus rises from the dead to give you eternal life.  He will return to fully raise your body from the dead.  He is not content to just save you a little.  He saves you completely. 

            Jesus is offensive because He is really God in flesh and not the Jesus of your imagination.  Jesus is offensive because He teaches with authority and His teachings contradict your human understandings.  He is offensive because He loves you completely and He redeems you completely and He calls you to fully follow Him in all that you do.

            Jesus is offensive because He is God and you are not. Rejoice that Jesus is offensive. Give thanks that Jesus is not nice, but He is good.  Amen. 


[1] LW 23:135

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