Sermon August 26, John 6:56-69

This is the last sermon from my series on John Chapter 6. At the end of the audio section I’ve included a couple of songs in Swahili sung by the family who joined us from Mozambique. They are originally are from the Congo, and as I posted a couple of weeks ago they have faced difficulties since arriving in Winnipeg. The parish has rallied around the family and we have set up a Go Fund Me page to assist them.
Previous sermons: July 22th, July 29th, August 5th, August 12th, August 19th

May the words in my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Oh Lord our God, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen.
So we come now to the end of the sixth chapter of John and we start with a little bit from what we read last week. Jesus said those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them, just as the living father sent me and I live because of the father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.
But this is an action and actions have consequences and he goes on to say this. It says that many of his disciples when they heard it said this teaching is difficult. Who can accept eating of Jesus, who is the bread of life, the one who gives eternal life and who will raise us up at the last day? It is not an easy thing.
Jesus goes on to challenge those disciples he says. Well if you think this saying is difficult what’s it going to be like when you see the Son of Man ascending to the father. It is the spirit that gives life. The flesh is useless. We remember when we were talking last week, you know, that which we eat food wise we take in we use it and then discard the rest, and we have to keep doing it. Day after day after day, but Jesus is the living bread and it is the Spirit that gives that life, that life is found in the Spirit.
And Jesus says among you there are some who don’t believe, and he says to them, I told you no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father. Jesus when he is saying that he is the bread of life, and when he’s talking to the crowds and to the disciples he is not making it up as he goes along. As he repeats throughout this passage in John that we’ve been reading: The words he has spoken and the words given to him by the father. It is the father that draws people to Christ.
Then at the end we hear what the result of this is. Many of the people when they hear the difficult sayings say this is too hard. Of the term like the disciples turn back and no longer went with him. Now, they’re not quite totally denying him, but they don’t really want to be seen with him.
You know they might say nice things about him if somebody asked but they’re not really willing to follow, because they remember what Jesus has been saying earlier in this chapter. The bread of life that he is going to give us his body his flesh and that is going to be accomplished by the cross. And a lot of people when they listen to Jesus they hear that and go: no we just don’t want to be part of this anymore So Jesus says to the 12. Do you also wish to go away? Simon Peter answered Him:

Lord. To whom can we go. You have the words of eternal life we have come to believe and know that you are the holy one of God.

Simon asked the big question Lord to whom can we go? It is you that have the words of eternal life.
We’ve come to believe and know that you are the holy one of God. They know they’ve got a hard road ahead of them although they don’t exactly know what that is going to be like and probably never quite realize just how hard that road was going to be but they know that it is Christ who has the words of eternal life. It is Christ who dwells in them. It is Christ who takes root in them.
We talked about this last week. So I think it’s good that this this week’s reading goes back to verse 56 but those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me. And then there is a living relationship there. I mentioned again last week the idea that when we eat food the food gets destroyed and becomes something else. But when we eat the flesh and blood of Jesus the food doesn’t get destroyed.last supper 3239339 1920
That living bread is always living it is Christ who has died and lives again and because of that. We also live again. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not like what your ancestors ached and they died. It’s a reminder that Christ is different from Moses and he is different from the man because the manna was only temporary. The manna only serves a limited purpose for a limited time but Christ lives in us.
Christ dwells in us. Christ takes root in us when we eat his flesh and drink his blood but we are called to follow after him. The gospel is paired with that well known passage from the Book of Ephesians.

Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power put on the whole armour of God so that you may be able to stand up against the wiles of the devil for our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh but against the ruler against the authorities against the cosmic powers of this present darkness against the spiritual forces of evil and the heavenly places.

Jesus says,, as he is talking to his disciples. It is the spirit that gives life. The flesh is useless and Paul is reminding us of that the same thing in the sixth chapter of Ephesians.
It is the spirit that is the armor of God. It’s in God’s spirit that we put on that armor and we’re not putting on that armor to attack each other. None of us are the enemy. Nobody outside these doors is the enemy. Because Christ came and gave himself for all. So ALL, are the people that Christ died for.  Everyone!
But there are problems in the world. There are powers and principalities. There are systems even that stand against Christ and if we battle them in the flesh everybody loses eventually. Yes there are things we can do that make improvements in people’s lives. I’m not saying we don’t do those and I’m not saying that they’re all bad governments. There are good governments, there are bad governments and we should seek for good government. But our primary call is to remember that each person around us is a person loved by Christ a person that Christ died for.
Jesus says I am the Bread of Life and he doesn’t say: I’m the bread of life for you but not for him. I’m the bread of life for her but not for that guy over there. Christ is the bread of life given for all. And that’s how were called to live because we have been fed by that bread. We’re constantly being fed by that bread. We are called to give as Christ gave to live as Christ lived to be willing to die as Christ died.
I am the living bread. I’m the living bread for you and for you and for you. For you, for each one of us. Christ invites us to feed on him to allow him to take root and to allow us to be transformed by him and in doing so to learn to look around us and see that’s my neighbor who is loved by God. That’s my neighbor. Christ is there as the bread of life for that neighbor.
That neighbor may be sleeping out in the park tonight. That neighbor may find themselves in the psychiatric ward at the moment, the neighbor might actually be the person who is right next door to me in my house. But we have all been fed by Christ who is the living bread and we all have the opportunity in our lives to offer that living bread to others. We all have a chance. Simon Peter said to say Lord to whom can we go. You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the holy one of God. Let us make that commitment going forward from this moment. Pastor.

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.