Twelfth Sun. aft. Pentecost B
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
(Finding something wrong with someone else or something else is never difficult. If you are a regular reader of the letters to the editor in the Pagosa Sun, you will see that fault-finding has been raised to an art form! Sometimes the complaints are legitimate, mostly they are not. There was a lot of fault-finding by the crowd that had been following Jesus around. They had seen His miracles, (especially the feeding of the 5,000), and they had witnessed the present reality of divine power. Yet, they complained about what Jesus said about Himself. This was especially true when He claimed to be the “Bread of life who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” There was a sort of denial that anyone so common could possibly be so eternally significant!
I. SOMETIMES WE GRUMBLE ABOUT GOD NOT BEING SPECTACULAR ENOUGH.
A. We would prefer if God could be a bit more “flashy” in our lives, like He was in the
days of Moses.
1. We think, “Now there was a God we could get used to!”
a. When things got tough, He stepped in and took care of things.
b. When the people got hungry, manna rained down from heaven.
c. When the Egyptians threatened, the Red Sea parted.
d. When bitten by poisonous snakes, a bronze snake was a provided cure.
2. “Yes, that’s what we want!”
B. That’s the desire of the crowd in this Gospel lesson as well:
1. “We like the Jesus who can feed us with five loaves and two fish!.”
2. “We think that miraculous healings are wonderful!”
C. But now comes the grumbling:
1. “What do you mean you’re the Bread of Life that comes down from heaven?”
a. “Your only common…you’re only Joseph’s son from Nazareth.”
b. “That’s not flashy!” “That’s not impressive!”
2. Not only are they offended by Jesus’ claim to be the Bread of Life from heaven, they are also offended by Jesus’ setting Himself up as the exclusive way to access the Father.
D. Sometimes we too grumble at the commonness of what God has given us.
1. Sometimes we complain that our worship isn’t more spectactular!
a. We think that God should make Himself know with extraordinary “spiritual” experiences.
b. We want a visible exhibition of spiritual power.
2. Yet, in accord with God’s Word, the Lord is present with us through “ordinary” words, “ordinary” water, and “ordinary bread and wine.
3. To the human eye, nothing special is happening.
4. However, to those who walk by faith and not sight, each and every preaching of the Word, each and every Baptism, each and every celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a wonder of untold proportions!
II. THE INCREDIBLE IRONY OF OUR GRUMBLING IS OUR VERY FAILURE TO SEE HOW SPECTACULARLY GOD MOVES THROUGH HIS MEANS OF GRACE!
A. In the “common” humanity of Christ, we are enabled to see and know the Father in heaven.
1. God reveals Himself to us through His incarnation into human flesh.
a. This is God with a human face and He is the only way to see the Father.
b. This is God with whom man may converse, and hear in our own humanity the revelation of God.
2. God reveals Himself to us through the cross and the grave.
a. Apart from the offering of Himself on the cross for our sins, there is no access to the Father!
b. No one should be looking for God anywhere else except in Jesus.
c. ILLUS: M. Luther: “Do not say, as the Apostle Philip says in John 14:8,
‘Lord, show us the Father.’ He too wanted to put Christ out of sight and take another road to the Father, a back road, and seek the Father without Christ. But it was said to him: ‘If you can believe and if you open your eyes and if you eat and drink of me, then you will have already met the Father in me, and you have the Father in me for the Father has led you to me.’ “
d. To reject Jesus is to reject the Father Himself.
B. Notice too, how Jesus connects us with the Father through Himself:
1. The Father draws us to Him through Jesus.
a. It is not human power and human choosing that makes someone a Christian, but divine power and divine choosing. (v. 44)
b. The Greek word for “draw” is used only in one other place in the New Testament -–in John 12:32 and it is used in exactly the same way.
2. The purpose of Father’s drawing us to His Son is clear as well:
a. So that we will be raised up on the last day. (v. 44b)
b. Without being raised up, there is no eternal life…only eternal death.
3. As we cling to the humanity of Jesus, we cling to God Himself, who is the source of life.
C. Finally Jesus says, “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the
1. The cross of Christ hangs over our altar because an altar is a place of sacrifice.
a. Here in this sanctuary, we know the reality of Christ’s payment for sin.
b. Here in this sanctuary, we know that the life breath of the Bread of Life was given for each and every one of us so that we too will not die but know the Father in eternity.
2. And while this passage does not directly refer to the Lord’s Supper, it is still helpful to realize that the Bread of Life which comes down from heaven is precisely that which we shall share as we come to the Lord’s table.
a. Indeed the same flesh given sacrificially for the Life of the World at
Calvary is now given sacramentally for the Life of the World in communion.
b. We receive Him at this table not merely inwardly and spiritually, but also outwardly and concretely…Indeed we receive the very Bread of Life.
Come now to the table of God’s grace! Behold that in the common human flesh is also the divine. In Christ, we receive the Bread of Life. In Christ, we receive the Father Himself. He has come to bring life to the Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright © 2003 CrossTies Counseling
All Rights Reserved