Sermon for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 2, 2015, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas
Sermon Text: John 6:22-35
Sermon Theme: “Good Food for God’s People”
(Sources: Anderson’s Cycle B Preaching Workbook; Emphasis Online Commentaries; Emphasis Online Illustrations; original ideas; Short Christian Jokes Online; Bon Voyage Online Charlie Brown Quotes)
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bread is one of the most basic foods in almost all cultures, originating as early as 8,000 B.C. Bread comes in many forms. Today, Germany is the undisputed bread capital of the world. Every year, the people of Germany eat one million, one hundred thousand tons of bread, five billion, twenty-four million rolls, and four hundred billion pretzels. Wow! America is not far behind.
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t encounter bread.
Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy, and Woodstock take an automobile trip one day. They take a loaf of bread and some lunch meat to make sandwiches on the trip. Having divided up the bread, they make sandwiches and start eating.
All except Charlie Brown, that is! It seems his share of the loaf got slammed into the hood of the car.
“Boy, Chuck, this is great,” says Peppermint Patty, “that was real generous of you to feed your share of the bread to the car.” Everybody snickers except Charlie Brown.
“Notice,” continues Peppermint Patty, “how well the car is running since you gave it some bread!”
Our sermon text takes place right after the feeding of the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish. The crowds search for Jesus and find Him at Capernaum. They question how He got there. Jesus doesn’t answer but confronts them with the fact that they are not seeking the bread of heaven but earthly bread. Jesus warns them to work for the brad that endures eternally, not the loaves which perish.
They ask Him what a person should do to do the work of God. Jesus answers, ‘All you must do is believe in God, the One who sent me.’ Works are not necessary but only faith.
Then they ask Him for a sign, saying that God gave their ancestors bread from heaven, — manna. Jesus counters that He is the true bread from heaven, the gift of the Father, who gives life to the world. The people respond, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
If you’re not careful when you read this text, you can come away with the idea that a person must choose between earthly bread and heavenly bread, that it is and “either/or” situation. Actually, Jesus is speaking of priorities. He is saying, “Seek FIRST the bread of heaven and then God will give you the earthly bread you need as well.” You remember that our Lord teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray for earthly bread, “Give us this day our daily bread.” However, please notice in that petition that He does not instruct us to pray for an endless hoard of bread, but for that which we need for today.
I read about an elderly lady, barely able to make it on Social Security, who was well known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout, “Praise the Lord!”
Living next door to her was an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout back, “There ain’t no Lord!”
Having to spend most of her income on prescriptions and having little left to buy food, she prayed for God to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord!! God, I need FOOD! I am having a hard time. Please, Lord, send me some groceries!”
The next morning, the lady went out on her porch and saw a large bag of groceries and shouted, “Praise the Lord!!!”
Her atheist neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, “Ha, ha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t!”
The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD!! God not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them!!”
The people Jesus fed the day before our sermon text begins were no doubt from the poorer segment of Jewish society, so when the Lord fed them more bread and fish than they could stuff down, they were full enough to pop. But now, the next morning, they are hungry again. They want bread and they know from experience that Jesus could deliver. But this time, Jesus does not give them loaves and fish, but offers them “bread of life.”
What does that mean to a person who has not had breakfast and isn’t sure where his next meal is coming from? Jesus knew that they were hungry for physical food, but He wanted them to acknowledge a deeper hunger. They needed to be fed with more than bread.
I am sure there is not a single person in this room who suffers from not having enough food; in fact, most of us have so much to eat, we waste it.
The story is told of a pastor who asked a member of the church, “Does your husband believe in life after death?”
“Him?” she replied, “he doesn’t even believe in life after dinner!” What this man has in common with the crowds in our text is that he doesn’t go much beyond the dinner table. Many of the things we do unconsciously, or, I should say, without thinking, say a great deal about us.
There are hunger pangs when your stomach is empty, but there is also a hole in your soul when you lack spiritual nourishment, and Paul Tillich says an empty soul leads to meaninglessness, despair, and possible self-destructive actions. Only the Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the grave for the sins of humanity can fill this emptiness. Today’s false gods fail us.
Pastor Wayne Brouwer says that since you are what you eat, take a look at what you are consuming. If you eat garbage you become garbage. If you feast on pornography, you become filthy. If you think that wealth can satisfy the cravings of your soul, you will become a calculator and a penny-pincher. “If another high is what it takes to get you through the stomach cramps of another day, you will shoot up or smoke up or pop some more or tease yourself with illicit sex, and end up becoming a bag of used chemicals and a bottle of cheap thrills.”
The real food, the good food, is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, says our text. The gospel is good food for God’s people, to be received through faith. A lot of the food we consume for the soul is garbage; it is not good spiritual food for God’s people. Jesus is the bread of heaven, — good food for God’s people, food that you will consume in the Sacrament today. Receive that bread by faith and live forever with the Lord! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.