Why is a missed opportunity eating you alive
Jesus - as vital as "daily bread"
Sermon on John 6: 51-58John 6 (Jesus says) 51 I am the living bread that came from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. And this bread is my flesh that I will give for the life of the world. 52 So the Jews quarreled with one another, saying, How can he give us his flesh to eat? 53 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live for the Father's sake, so whoever eats me will live for My sake. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. It's not like the fathers who ate and died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.
Jesus is as vital for every human being "like daily bread". For everyone: whether believing or unbelieving, whether ecclesiastical or atheist, whether Christian or Buddhist or Muslim - or whatever. Jesus: "whoever eats this bread will live forever." Whoever has fellowship with Jesus - only he lives a life that lasts. And that's exactly what the Lord's Supper we celebrate today reminds us of that.
1. It goes here Not about the Lord's Supper!"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." Not easy to understand what Jesus is saying here! And we have to clarify something first - before we apply the text to ourselves personally. Because - how should I imagine that I am taking Jesus' flesh and blood? If we were to read the passage to a person who was "unmarked" by the church, he would surely find it strange, if not unsavory or repulsive. If Jesus even demands here - please forgive me for the blunt expression! - is Jesus calling for "cannibalism" here? To take the flesh and blood of another person - that was and is actually only common in really barbaric peoples. So are the Christians terrible barbarians? This conception actually existed!
The Church has always made it up by saying: Here, in John 6, Jesus describes the Lord's Supper. There we really say: my body, given for you, my blood, shed for you. And every Christian knows that he is not doing anything unsavory or even "cannibal", but that the whole thing is something symbolic. Just a portrait. However, this gives us a problem - and it has very practical implications for how we understand the sacrament. Let's try this conception: "Jesus is describing the Lord's Supper here." Will we understand better what Jesus is saying here?
"My flesh is the real food and my blood is the real drink." That sounds a lot like the Lord's Supper, doesn't it? Does Jesus want to make the Lord's Supper particularly important to us here? But let's look a little further. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. ... Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, remains in me and I in him." Yes, if you take it that way, take Jesus quite literally - then the Lord's Supper would be a "miracle food".
And indeed: a good 100 years after the birth of Christ, the old church father Ignatius called the Lord's Supper a "remedy for immortality". And very soon - perhaps even through no fault of Ignatius. Very soon a superstition spread in Christianity: Whoever eats the Lord's Supper absorbs some wonderful powers that will ultimately give him eternal life, heaven. If only I do not miss the sacrament - then I will be saved! "Who eats my meat ... stays in me ..."? Last Supper - a kind of miracle cure? That I therefore only take it with holy shyness and on the rarest of occasions?
If we continue reading the Gospels, however, we will see that Jesus did not begin the Lord's Supper until much later. In John's Gospel, for example, we first read about it in Chapter 13 - and here is Chapter 6. And when we then take a closer look at this institution there, we see that Jesus speaks very differently there, very differently from here, in our sermon text.
And there is one more thing we must not forget - and that is perhaps the most important thought: Judas also took part in the Lord's Supper. He, too, gave Christ's body for him and shed Christ's blood for him. He too received both. But he did not find eternal life, but came to a terrible end. No, we should have this talk of Jesus here. We really shouldn't be referring to the sacrament too quickly. We should not think that the Lord's Supper is some kind of "miracle food". Even if it all sounds like it, after listening to it for the first time. But what means Jesus then?
2. Jesus, the "spiritual staple food"I think the key to this question lies in a sentence that Jesus said earlier in his speech. Then he says of himself: "I am the living bread." Bread - that was and has always been the staple food. When we pray: give us our daily bread. Then we ask: give us everything we need to live. First food and drink - and then everything else. Without our daily bread - we cannot live there. If we have nothing to eat or drink - then we starve and die of thirst.
If we look at it that way - then it is quite offensive at a time when "everyone should be happy according to their own form". I am the bread of life, the living bread. He who does not eat my flesh and drink my blood has no life in him. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. Which means nothing else: Whoever does not receive Jesus - he has no spiritual life in him. Whoever does not receive Jesus has missed a whole eternity. He won't be there one day, in God's new world, in heaven. But whoever accepts Jesus in faith has won everything. "He stays in me and I in him."
Isn't that terribly "intolerant"? When Jesus says here: To me. There is no way around it. Whether you are a Christian or an atheist. Buddhist or Muslim. Whether you are an esoteric and have deep thoughts, or whether you only look for God in the forest on Sunday mornings (and not in church). There is no way around me, Jesus, if you just want a spark of real, eternal life in you.
Even then, many could not bear that - that Jesus was so one-sided. They said: this is a hard speech, who can hear it (John 6:60)? And many turned away from Jesus at this point - that was too much for them. If Jesus had said to them: I invite you to a fulfilled life - wouldn't you like to be there? Do you want to think about it? Many would have put up with that. But he says against it: without me - "nothing works". If you don't eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are completely lifeless. Spiritually lifeless. Even if you look young and healthy on the outside. But whoever accepts me in faith - he lives, he finally lives! He lives the life that will not end in eternity either.
If so, then the Lord's Supper helps me a lot. It helps me a lot to understand these relationships. To absorb into me. When I imagine: In a moment, at the Lord's Supper. Then Jesus comes to me in a mysterious way. And when I then eat and drink bread and wine. Then I imagine Jesus telling me: I am as vital to you as your daily bread. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. Taste and see how gracious I am to you. Trust me. Yes, whoever comes hungry and thirsty - hungry and thirsty for Jesus. Hungry for fellowship with Jesus. However, he can take a lot with him when he receives the Lord's Supper. As Jesus says: Blessed are those who hunger - for they should be satisfied (Matthew 5: 6). Feel full and strengthened - trusting in him. Because Jesus is the "spiritual staple food".
3. Because Jesus is so vital, that is why we want to "distribute" himIf so - then there is another conclusion, "completely automatically" as it were. In a new Lord's Supper song it says (live and praise no.735) "Jesus lives and says: See, I am the light, carry out the bread, come and share!"
It is a tradition in our church to point out from time to time: a good Christian, especially if it is not only a Christian but even a Methodist ... - he carries on the faith, he gives testimony, he invites etc. etc. Actually not a bad thing - if it doesn't degenerate into a "raised index finger". It is of little use if I get a guilty conscience every now and then, amazed - or alienated - see what one or the other "brings everything" when "giving testimony". And then I only say to myself: yes, actually you should do a lot more in this area, but ... you already know how it is.
Perhaps one bridles the horse with it from behind - and would have to look at things differently. Well, to stay with the text and the comparison with the food: When there is nothing to eat in the whole country and I know the only place where you can still get something. Then I will - if I don't just think about myself - then I will tell others something about it. So that they can get something before they starve. Perhaps some are already so weak from hunger that they no longer know what they are doing and thinking. And I have to tell them: You should urgently eat something again. And I even know where there is something.
If that is true - that Jesus is vital to every human being. Whether this person wants to admit it or not. Whether he thinks he needs Jesus or not. If Jesus is really so necessary for survival: Then it is indeed urgently needed - that many, many still find faith. That is then to a certain extent "in the logic of our faith". It has nothing to do with the fact that we Christians know better than any human being. It's because of this - really offensive one! - Claim that Jesus claims of himself.
Yes, if that is really true: then I can also picture the Lord's Supper like this: I go to the Lord's table because "I know where to eat". I know it. I am allowed to know, as one of the few - in a country full of "spiritual famine". Where many people live so far away from God - that they no longer even know what is wrong with them. I am allowed to eat - because I was allowed to recognize Jesus, the "spiritual staple food".
What that means for me as a Christian - it will look very different. I think our Lord trusts us to do that. That we should find out, each for himself. Without any "raised index finger to testify". It is crucial that I have understood this "logic of faith": We Christians do not offer our faith as an "interesting offer on the market for life opportunities". "Try it with Jesus". Or try Mohammed. Or try without God at all. No, we don't have an "interesting offer to sell". Where we would have to beg people like in advertising: Please, please buy our product. Rather, we have someone who is essential for survival - for everyone.
Let's pray for it. That many still recognize the same thing as we do. Like us, who we are allowed to believe. That many recognize: Jesus is as vital for me as my daily bread. Or as the song says: "Jesus lives and says: See, I am the light, carry out the bread, come and share!" Amen.
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