AUGUST 8, 2021
Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 19
READINGS AND PSALM
1 Kings 19:4-8
John 6:35, 41-51
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
There are many ways to obtain information about a person. In today’s world, you can google just about anyone and find information about them. We can interview family and friends. If the person is famous enough, we can read the books that have been printed about him or her. Perhaps the best way though, is to listen to what the person has to say about himself. This is how we’re going to proceed on our discovery of Jesus. We’re going to learn about Jesus by what he says about himself. In the gospel of John, Jesus is recorded making several statements about himself that both proclaim his divinity and describe his relationship with us. Jesus used a key phrase, in these statements, “Ego emi,” or “I am,” to announce that he is God. The phrase “I am,” is the name God gives to Moses, when Moses asks, “Whom shall I say sent me?” Jesus then attaches a specific, concrete concept to reveal the shape and dynamics of his relationship with us.
This conversation between Jesus and the Jews comes shortly after he fed 5,000 or more people. The crowd has dispersed. Jesus and his disciples have traveled to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Several people follow him. They think they have discovered a good thing—the key to a life of comfort and ease. Jesus confronts the Jews about their selfish reasons for following him. He remarks that they did not come after him because of the miracles, which were clear signs of his divinity, because who else but God can feed 5,000 people with only two fish and five loaves of bread. Instead, these people are following Jesus because their stomachs were filled. They thought that if they could convince Jesus to become king, they could live lives free from worry and hard work. Jesus admonishes the people who have sought him to broaden their perspective and to focus on more than simply the physical aspects of life. Jesus then declares that he is the bread of life; he is that which gives true life and moves us beyond mere existence.
Jesus wants so much more than to be the person to whom we turn in times of trouble. Jesus seeks a vital and dynamic relationship with us that is parent/child, master/servant, and teacher/disciple.
Jesus makes reference to the Exodus experience of the Israelites and God’s provision of manna for them. Manna, which means, “What is it?” was the bread of life for the people of Israel at this time. It literally saved their lives. During their exodus from Egypt and slavery to the Promised Land and freedom, the people of Israel were unable to plant and harvest crops. They weren’t in one place long enough to do this. Neither were they able to hunt enough food for the entire nation. The Sinai Desert doesn’t contain abundant quantities of wildlife that would make this possible. In order for the Israelites to avoid starvation, God provided manna for the people.
The manna was a gift to the people from God. The people of Israel had done nothing to deserve or warrant the manna—unless one counts constant complaining. God gave the manna to the people of Israel because God is a God of love, who provides graciously and abundantly for God’s people.
Jesus, the Bread of Life, is God’s gift to us, who gives us nourishment and sustenance. Like bread, Jesus is an essential part of our daily lives.
Jesus makes an interesting observation. The Israelites during their Exodus ate the manna, but they became hungry again. The manna lasted only a day. Jesus on the other hand is the Bread of Life that will fill our lives completely and everlastingly.
Each of us at some point in our lives have set goals that we believed would be fulfilling and satisfying. When we achieved these goals, however, we found them less then satisfying, and we were overcome with disappointment.
Jesus promises us that he not only nourishes us, he fulfills us. When we go beyond the religion of seeking God only in times of trouble, and we commit our lives to being disciples—life-long learners and servants—of Jesus Christ, then we find our lives fulfilled. We are fulfilled by God’s love and forgiveness that overflows in our lives beyond our imagination.
We are fulfilled by living for someone bigger than ourselves and sacrificing ourselves not just to make ends meet, but to expand the kingdom of God and to enable people to experience God’s love and presence in their lives.
Bread is essential to life; it is one of life’s basic elements. In a similar manner, Jesus is essential to our lives. We cannot live life—eternal life—without him. Jesus’ declaration that he is the Bread of Life is also his invitation for us to taste and experience the abundant life that he has in store for us.
And All of God’s People Say…Amen!
GRACE: Neva Schmid, Acasha Rankin
GLORIA DEI: The family of Rob Sterling, Holly Jones, Lezlee Anderson, Kathy Buttle, Virgil Frerichs, Ernie Kahrs, Barb Namuth, Marge Jones, Pat Rufenacht, , Richard Bruns, Kimberly Valla Martinez, Rita Bartling, Dan Dickinson, Great Grandma Marlene Cruise, Deann Larson, Andrea Nelson, Pat Kloberdanz
ALL: The firefighters battling blazes across the United States and Canada, especially those fighting the Hackberry fire in Banner County
BLESSING: And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and + give you peace. Amen.