Common Eating Sermons

Sermon, August 19th – John 6:51-58

My sermon for August 19th is my second last sermon on the sixth chapter of John. I used three writers as a large portion of the basis of this sermon. I’ve included links to their books in the text below.
Previous sermons: July 22th, July 29th, Aug 5th, Aug12th

August 19th Sermon

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord Our God our strength and our Redeemer.
So we are coming to the heart of John chapter 6 where Jesus talks about His flesh being the true bread, and our need to eat that bread
So I want to start with a few thoughts. This is from a doctoral dissertation by a woman Jane Suzanne Webster. She’s a Canadian theologian, and her dissertation was on the concept of ingesting in the Gospel of John.

Sometimes when we think of the Gospel of John and what it means to eat Jesus we think of it only in terms of this chapter and these few verses, but Webster points out that this actually is a motif that runs throughout the Book of John is that Jesus offers himself as food giving life to others through his death.
“He is the bread that comes down from heaven whose flesh must be crunched to be salvific is flesh and blood are true food and drink is death releases the living water in the spirit that give life he falls to Earth as a grain of wheat that produces much fruit is also possibly the Paschal Lamb who sacrificed takes away the sin of the world a theme that is brought to fall to the floor in the frequent references to the Passover festival and its activities. It may also be argued that Jesus is metaphorically consumed in place of the sacrificial animals in the temple. 
The inevitability and necessity of his death color every meal narrative from the anticipation of his hour in Cana to the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Bethany and to his final testimony and symbolic actions during the Last Supper. That’s the gospel presents Jesus as one who gives his life is food in order to feed those who believe in him and this way the salvific role of Jesus is communicated through in just the ingesting Motif. The expected response of Believers to Jesus is also communicated with ingesting OT and discernible patterns may be identified those who believe in Jesus will leave Jesus. This is most explicit in the bread of life. Discourse. Jesus says I’ll respond
They are to feed others. The notion is introduce gradually for the gospel when John introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes Away The Sins Of The World the disciples here and follow in the wedding of Cana the disciples silently observe the miracle and then believe in the cleansing of the temple story. They merely remember what Jesus have told them in the Samaritan woman story. They ask questions about the food that Jesus had for their food as useless. They are invited to gather and harvest in the feeding of the multitude. They prepare the people to eat and Jesus feeds 5000. They gather up the pieces that are left over so that none will be lost their talk to their dependents on Jesus will produce much fruit. This is demonstrated in the story of the miraculous catch of fish. Obey the words of Jesus and pull internet full of fish. It is specifically by Peter.
Simon Peter instructed to feed Jesus sheep, even to the point of death throughout the ingesting a vehicle to communicate the role of the disciples in feeding others.

So one of the things were coming here with in the story and Jesus’s conversation as we move in this chapter is this is a theme that is being developed throughout the whole book of John the idea of ingesting of taking in is there throughout the book feeding is important and it’s actually an important themes that runs throughout the Bible spiritual feeding to be sure but also physical feeding when we get to the end of our Old Testament reading this morning or Solomon has made all the sacrifices. What does he do? He feeds his servant the sacrifices aren’t just burned up and thrown away. They are used to feed the people.”
And no rush but there are still parts of this chapter will take away this section that are really difficult. One of the big ones being how Jesus describes eating because when he’s talking about eating the Flesh of the son of man and drinking his blood one of the words he uses is actually the word for crunching. So the word that you would use for biting into something. It’s not just sort of a general term for eating and all you have to you have to eat something but it is that sense that you are doing something specific you were taking an action in here and that’s one of those things that causes a lot of problems for people.
But there’s something else is going on here. And it’s what we need to focus on is sort of this purpose of heating and as I read from that. Soul dissertation, the disciples are to eat feed others and the key I think here in this chapter is in verse 56 or Jesus says those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them early on Jesus has talked about earlier on In this passage. Jesus’s talk about nothing being lost and that’s one of the things we need to understand. When were talking about eating the bread of life?
Jesus is talking here about what it means for him to abide with us, and abiding is also another concept in the Book of John, in the Gospel of John, that’s very important. If we think further ahead to The Upper Room discourse at the end, Jesus talks about being vine. In abiding in the vine, and the vine abiding in the disciples. and that is linking together below the things we’ve been reading about here. And again, we see this last verse this is the brother came down from heaven not like that what your ancestors ate and they died but the one who eats this bread will live forever and it’s one of those things that sets us apart as a different kind of bread another book. I’ve been reading in relationship to this a book called Food and Faith, by Norman Wirzba, who is a Professor at Duke University and he deals with this chapter and this concept of eating.
One thing he says about are eating is that when we eat anything, like a piece of bread, some fish, to use things related to the story. It enterrs our body and its destroyed it. No longer is it what it once was. It just becomes part of us and that which is waste is sent out from us. But with Jesus that’s not the case the example, where’s but uses actually is that as we eat Jesus Jesus Takes root in us. Rather than our persons, in our bodies, transforming Jesus. We are transformed by we are changed in the process Jesus. Where’s the uses the idea of a seed germinates within us that allows growth but it’s a growth that changes. So when Jesus says those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.
What he is saying is that we are changed by him. He is not changed, but we are and of course in all of these things, Jesus is talking about his death as was mentioned at the early part of that dissertation I was reading from: When Mary comes to Jesus at the wedding Faith wedding feast in Cana. Talking about the lack of wine. Jesus says “my time hasn’t come yet.” His time. What is that time? The time when he will go to the cross.
That is what he’s referring to throughout the gospel, in these metaphors of eating and drinking we have this idea of Jesus’s death as well You know: Unless a grain falls into the ground. Jesus in his death becomes that grain and then in his resurrection becomes the new life brings us to a new life a new life that will be raised up on the last day. What does that mean? When will that be? We don’t know.
Another book. I was reading a little bit from is called: Stations of the Banquet, written by Cathy Campbell who was priest at St. Matthew’s Maryland here in the city until a couple years ago and she talks about this idea much like this idea that we’re supposed to talk about of of new growth of a seed growing in us. She speaks of an inter-weaving. Weaving back together the creation because new creation is another idea that comes through the new life with in Jesus. If we go forward, into the Book of Revelation we end up with that vision of the new Heaven and the new Earth coming down. It’s not about us going to heaven. It’s about God creating a new Heaven and a new Earth and us being raised up at the last day as a result of this.
So when we come in a few minutes to the communion table we are coming to remember. We are coming to eat Jesus to take that new life to allow that seed to be planted again to have new planting. We are coming to allow ourselves to be transformed. There is no magic in this moment, but there is a true presence because Christ is the true bread. He is the one who will raise us up at the last day.
He is one who says who eats this bread will live forever, and we will be changed now. That doesn’t mean that everything will be wonderful and Rosie. When we conclude this passage next week. We’ll see exactly what that means we will see and remind ourselves of what we are called to
As we take the bread and wine that we have been called also to feed others feeding others. That led Jesus to the cross, and that is exactly the same kind of feeding that he is calling us to his calling us that same willingness. to feed others to the point where it may mean our life. Not something that we go and seek. But something that we should be aware of.
What is promised us that those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day and we know that his flesh is True Food and his blood to drink. Jesus says very truly. I tell you unless you eat the Flesh of the son of man and drink his blood. You have no life in you. Jesus says just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father. So whoever eats me will livbecause of me this is what we come to remember, but not simply to look back at this is no act of nostalgia. We remember this and we pull it forward into our lives.
We are called to go out transformed. By what Jesus has done for us. We are called to go out and to feed others. And yes that feeding does include bread and fish and other food, but it’s to feed others also with the life that is in Christ. To allow others to experience the transformation. to allow others a taste of the living bread. and to know of the hope of being raised on the last day on it.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.