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Posts Tagged ‘Bread of Life’

St. John 6:   26Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 

The folks wanted more of the same:  loaves.  Loaves for their bellies.  They wanted “belly preaching”, as Martin Luther called it. 

When we visit my parents in South Carolina, one of our stops is a grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, not for their food but their merchandising, like T-shirts: “I’m Big on the Pig”.  We also have their cloth Piggly Wiggly grocery bags, the saying on them is “Piggly Wiggly feeds your life.”  I beg to differ.  The Lord feeds your life.  But that’s the way the vain world thinks:  it feeds your life.  The government will feed your life.  Your work feeds your life.  Your intelligence feeds your life. All of the above are also the Lord’s: government, work, intelligence, His gifts through which He feeds your life and Jesus fed them because they were hungry.  He does that all the time. 

5The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing
.

 But they wanted a belly sermon and a belly preacher and this is not the meaning of the feeding of the 5,000 at the beginning of John 6. If you do this, then God will so reward you abundantly with the good life.  He gives food to the just and the unjust.  If God just gives me more and more for my amazing piety, then I will be so happy.  Fool! Your soul is required of you this night.  But such belly preaching is the daily paltry fare of the prosperity preachers. If you just have a positive thought, then God will give you 6 figure income. If you just give to my ministry, then you will be rich.  I am here to warn you:  the selling of indulgences is still quite the Ponzi scheme of the devil in our day.   Guns don’t kill, false doctrine kills. False doctrine centers everything on the self. True doctrine is centered on Jesus Christ, come down from heaven for us and for our salvation, not because we deserved Him, but need Him. The Lord satisfied  all the bodily wants of the world long before He came into the world.  He does so daily:  give us this day our daily bread.  He has, He will.  But even our daily bread is perishable. We are enticed to do so:  “…hungry for more”, says a chef on a travel show.  Or that commercial of the “most interesting man in the world who encourages us to buy their brand of beer:   “…stay thirsty my friends.”  We work for more and more and it does not satisfy.  Even if we have everything, gained the whole world, what will have been gained?  Forfeited our own soul. 

 Jesus is no belly preacher.  He came to preach the Gospel unto eternal life.  The Gospel is the proclamation of  the praise, glory and honor of God. He did not shed His blood “…to fill everyone’s paunch” (Luther).   His bread is not baked on earth. His bread, His flesh is not about getting what we want but receiving what He gives:  eternal life, salvation, the forgiveness of sins, the death of death our foe.  We can do absolutely nothing to work for this bread in order to gain it.  He just gives it.  The self-pious folks wanted to know what must they do to be doing the works of God.  Again the conditional sentences of the works-righteous belly preachers:  If I just do more, well, then, I’ll have it. 

Works-righteous belly preaching is truly inter-faith.  For instance: It’s the warp and woof of Islam: do the 5 pillars and you are good to go.  Jesus gives His bread, Himself, for the life of the world. 

A word about the word “world” which is used many times in John.  “World” in Greek is “cosmos”, as in cosmetic.  It looks good but underneath…it’s not a nice place and on purpose He stepped into flesh and blood.  

The world is bent in upon itself and it is it’s own place and can readily make a heaven out of hell and hell out of heaven.  The world eats it’s own flesh as attested in the fascination with zombies.  It eats itself up in worry.  It eats itself up in greed. It eats itself up in lust and in lust for more and more and  it is never satisfied. It has no life in and of itself.  The world thinks it is autonomous, literally it’s own law, creator, redeemer and sanctifier.  It is into this world He gave His flesh, His bread for it’s life.  His flesh shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it nor understood it.  He bore the world’s sin and is it’s Savior: yours, mine and the guy next door. 

His bread He gives. We can’t bake it, we can’t make it, we can to a point a make a life, we surely can not make eternal life. The Lord made us for eternal life with Him.  If we have trusted in Christ for this world, we are of all people most to be pitied, but Christ has risen from the dead, 1 Corinthians 15. His life, His bread is just given by Him and will be upon the Cross for the life of the world, your life, your soul. 

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LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
     Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
     From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning 
   If I lack’d anything.

‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
   Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
    I cannot look on Thee.’ 
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
   ‘Who made the eyes but I?’

‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
    Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’ 
    ‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
     So I did sit and eat.

St. John 6:  51

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

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 On verse 28: “…the monks and hypocrites blaspheme our Gospel today and say: ‘Why do you stress faith so much in your sermons?’ They imagine that God owes them eternal life for their merits and holy life.” (on verse 28)

On verse 29: “Our flesh and blood serve only themselves. If a single work of God is to be performed, it must be inspired by God, and so it is truly the work of the His Spirit.” (on verse 29)

On verse 29:  ” …though I see with my eyes, I still do not behold Christ. He does not want to be grasped by our thoughts and reason. Thus faith is not our work; for I am drawn to Christ, whom I neither feel nor see.”

On verse 51:  “…here we are informed of another and better bread, called God’s bread, which comes from heaven and is not baked on earth. It is granted by the Holy Spirit. It confers everlasting life, a life not merited and earned, a gift from heaven. Thus, you see two kinds of bread here. The one is not earned, not acquired through a self-chosen, self-devised mode of life, but is an outright gift of bread, food and life.” (on verse 32)

On verse 51:  “…the Jews argued: If God is the Creator of heaven and earth, then He is also on this mountain, on this hill, or in that valley. And they proceeded to build temples, churches, and altars here and there —on mountains, in groves, and in other places — establishing their worship there and saying: “Our God will not be imprisoned in a temple, in that dark corner of Jerusalem. Although our Lord God also dwells there, it remains true that the grove is His as well as Jerusalem is.” They were as clever as that. Thus they could argue: “God is the Creator of heaven and earth. It follows that He is omnipresent. He is also on this hill, in this vale, or in this grove. Therefore it is proper for me to serve Him wherever I wish.”But they were far from the truth; for in Deuteronomy God declares (12:13): “Take heed that you do not offer your burnt offerings at every place that you see. I will not let Myself be found, I will not hear or be worshiped, at the places of your choice. Cities, forests, meadows, hill, and vale are all Mine, to be sure; but I do not want to be worshiped, honored, or acknowledge there; I insist that you worship Me in the place and in the manner which I shall prescribe to you.”

Now if nothing else counts, then what can the zeal of others avail? Thus a Carthusian says: “I will serve God in my cowl. I will not sleep much. I will fast, pray, and abstain from this and that food.” But God replies: “I will have none of it.” If you want to have God, then mark where He resides and where He wants to be found. Thus He says ( Matt. 17:5): “Behold, this is My beloved Son, whom I sent tayou and with whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” If the Son is left out of the reckoning, then God’s good will toward man is also lacking, and your worship of Him is vain. Christ Himself declares here: “I am the eternal life, the bread of life. And if you, too, want to live and not die of hunger and thirst, you must eat and drink Me.” If anyone were to ask: “Whither shall we turn for eternal life?” the answer is that we must remain with His flesh and blood. The Father is well pleased with everything the Son says, namely, that we must eat His flesh. It is not written that we should run to St. Iago or Jerusalem, make a pilgrimage to St. Catherine’s, eat the flesh of St. Barbara, or drink the blood of St. Christopher.

 

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