Scriptures Ephesians 5:15-20 and John 6:51-58
This sermon is adapted from a skit by Nancy C. Townley (http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/2995/worship-connection-august-19-2012). I also want to thank Randy Jones for assisting!
Keith: (Keith reads John passage) Hear we find Jesus delving into the understanding that he is the bread of life and…
Randy: Isn’t this the third week we’ve had to endure this talk about Jesus being bread? Now, we get this stuff about “eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood.” I don’t know if I can take it. It sounds way too strange for me. It makes me very uncomfortable. It makes me think of cannibals or vampires. I know that’s strange to say in a service of worship, but really the language throws me off. So rather than take time to understand it, I would just as soon skip over it and think about something else. You know, think about something like majestic mountains, crashing seas, wonderful sunsets, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know.’ Those are things that capture my interest and I want to hear about.
Keith: I’ll agree that the language of the Bible and the concepts we read are not always easy to comprehend. But be patient. Let’s think about it and take it in pieces we can swallow. We all have to eat. We have to eat to survive. We all take food in to sustain us and give us energy. The food that we consume is utilized by our body. You should try to eat a healthy, well rounded diet, lots of fruits, veggies, proteins, etc. You want to stay away from the fats and starches that would clog up your system. Avoid the Twinkies and reach for the carrots and apples. And the better you eat, the healthier you become.
Let’s say you have a sandwich for lunch. Slowly but surely, that sandwich is broken down and each part of it nourishes your entire body, from head to toe and end of the finger tips, internal organs, your eyes, and brain. That sandwich becomes part of who you are.
And that is what I think Jesus is talking about. We, as his disciples, take Jesus Christ into our lives in such a way that he becomes the very fibers of our being. John warns us about Jesus and that we are going to hear something big, different and challenging at the very beginning of his gospel. The Word has become flesh and moved in with us. That in and of itself is hard to put our minds around. And through this gospel, Jesus keeps pushing us further and further
into a deep understanding of how God is intertwined with his life and also with ours. God deems to meet us here, here in the flesh, here in this world. Jesus is not only a gifted teacher, a compassionate healer, a worker of incredible signs and wonders. He is also our bread that comes from God in which we feast on. We eat to survive, and Jesus pushes the image that he must be ingested, taken in, and made a part of who we are in order to live. We are thus encouraged not simply to follow Jesus, which is difficult enough in itself, nor simply to be with Jesus, but we are to “consume” him, as William Willimon puts it. The Word becomes a literal part of the fabric of our lives. As food nourishes us to live and move, so it is in Christ that we live and move and have our being. Christ becomes part of who we are. He lives in and through us. Our actions become his actions as we are fed and nourished by his life giving Word.
It is what we wonderfully celebrate at the communion table. That bread? It isn’t Jesus. But he is here. And like the bread, we take him in, no, we consume him. Jesus intends to have all of us, body and soul. As we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, it is a physical reminder that Jesus wants to burrow deep within, to consume us as we consume him, to flow through our veins, to be digested, to nourish every nook and cranny of our being with his love and grace.
Randy: Hmmmm. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Jesus nourishes me!
Keith: Always and forever. Randy, Jesus loves you, this I know, because he is the Bread of Life that fills you from head to toe.
Keith: And the people of the Lord said: