✠ One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you ✠
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum
John 6,30-35 4219
7. Sn. n. Trinitatis 052
Dominic, founder of a monastic order, ✠ 1221
4. August 2019
1. O Christ Jesus, the Bread from heaven; send to us the Holy Spirit who encourages us to have compassion, so that we may show charity to our neighbors in their time of need. Amen. (Mark 8,1-9)
2. »So the Jews said to Him: „Then what sign do you do, so that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.“ [Exodus 16,4.8; Psalm 78,24] Jesus then said to them: „Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who descends heaven and gives life to the world.“ They said to Him: „Sir, give us this bread always.“ Jesus said to them: „I am the Bread of Life; whoever receives Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.“«
3. In Mark 8, our Gospel pericope for today, Jesus feeds a crowd numbering about 4000 people; He did so with 7 loaves of bread and at the end 7 full baskets were collected with the leftovers. One person would normally eat 1/3 of a loaf at a meal, and 7 loaves would comfortably feed 21 people, yet all 4000 are comfortably fed! That would take a little over 1333 loaves of bread. The leftovers were much more than the 7 loaves Jesus started with.
4. John 6 records another time when Jesus fed a large crowd with only a few loaves of bread. After Jesus had performed this miracle, the people exclaimed: This is indeed the Prophet who is come into the world! (John 6,14). The next day Jesus continues to teach the crowd and they make this connection from the Scriptures: Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, for Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat (Psalm 78,24; Exodus 16,4). The Jewish crowd is set in only seeing Jesus’ miracles in temporal, earthly terms. God has blessed them with bread for the day, just as He provided for their fathers in the wilderness many years earlier. Their perception is only two dimensional, that is, horizontal: what satisfies their physical hunger and belly. But Jesus is operating at a third dimensional perception, that is horizontal and vertical: He provides for both their physical hunger and their spiritual hunger. Their Heavenly Father gives more than just manna and loaves of bread; He also sends down the One from heaven who gives life to the world.
5. We are often like the Jews in John 6; we think in simply 2 dimensions: what our eyes see, our ears hear and our hands touch. Our first, and sadly sometimes our only, concern is how God provides for us physically, so that we measure His goodness by our bank accounts, our possessions and the food we have on our table. If our bodies are satisfied, then we think that is sufficient. But human beings are not simply flesh and blood; we are also spirit and soul. We are created in God’s Image and Likeness, and thus we have real spiritual needs, too. People fill that spiritual void through any number of ways: Eastern meditation, communing with nature, various cultural myths that relate stories of the gods interacting in the lives of people and so forth. In all this we are trying to recapture the fellowship God created us to have with Him, that relationship that Adam and Eve experienced at the close of each day as God walked with them in the Garden of Eden. David put this longing to prose in one of his psalms: O God, my God, I earnestly seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63,1.8), and again: Blessed are those who strength is in You, O God; they go from strength to strength; blessed is the one who trusts in You!« (Psalm 84,5.7.12).
6. Jesus proclaims to us: »I am the Bread of Life; whoever draws near to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise you up on the last day« (John 6,35.40). Jesus abundantly provides for physical and spiritual needs. After this powerful and insightful teaching of Jesus from the Scriptures, Peter and the other apostles reply with their wonderful confession: »Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God!« (John 6,68-69). They confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16,16).
7. We are here today, 2000 years later, making the same confession. We will receive the Bread of Life that satisfies both our physical and spiritual hunger. The Apostle Paul says of this Living Bread from heaven: »Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread« (1. Corinthians 10,17). The holy apostle is speaking about the Holy Communion of the Lord’s Supper. The Church, he says, receives and eats the one bread that is offered to all at the communion table. Jesus’ discourse in John 6, while not specifically saying that it is the Lord’s Supper, certainly causes the Christian hearer to think about the eating and drinking of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus and His apostles are clear that the bread and wine in the Holy Sacrament are indeed also His true body and blood given to and received by the communicant. The Lord’s Supper gives us Jesus, the Living Bread from heaven, and when we are given Jesus, we are given eternal life.
8. Luke the Evangelist describes the worship life of the Christians, writing: »And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.« (Acts 2,42). Luke is describing the worship life of the Church. We gather to hear the words of the apostles in the Epistle and Gospel Readings, we devote ourselves to the Christian fellowship of our brothers and sisters in the faith by worshiping together each Sunday, we break bread together in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and we offer up prayers and petitions to our Heavenly Father. There is a great continuity from the apostolic Church and the 21. century Church. We worship the same Jesus, we receive and partake of the same Bread of Life and we are absolved of all our sin in the Name of Jesus. I tell you the absolute truth: Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life, for Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus gives Himself to you this day; receive Him, believe upon Him and you will life forever and ever in His Divine presence. Amen.
9. Let us pray. O Christ, Your Name is praised morning and evening; may our lips and hearts confess You to be our Savior who gives us life, yes everlasting life, so that we put our trust in You our Providence. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
Soli Deo Gloria
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands.
Löhe, Wilhelm. Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians. Wartburg Publishing House, Chicago circa 1912. Concordia Publishing House; Concordia on Demand.