Father Santosh Madanu: Jesus the Bread of Life

Sermon delivered on Trinity 11B, Sunday, August 15, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: 1 Kings 2.10-12, 3.3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5.15-20; St. John 6.51-58.

Good morning St. Augustine family.

I would like to begin with a real story:
A lady went to the priest and said, I won’t be attending the church any more. The priest asked. May I know Why? She said I see people are on their cell phones during Church Services. Some are gossiping, some just aren’t living right, they are all just hypocrites. The priest was silent for a minute and said Ok…. But can I ask you a favor to do something for me before you make a final decision. What is that? Then the priest said take a glass of water and walk around the church two times and don’t let any water fall out of the glass, yes she said “I can do that” she went around the church twice and said I did it. Then the priest asked three questions: 1. Did you see anybody on their phones? She said NO. 2. Did you see any one gossiping? No. 3. Was anybody living wrong? She said: “I didn’t see anything because I focused myself on this glass, so the water wouldn’t fall.” So the priest said to her, when you come to the church you should be just focused on God so that YOU don’t fall. That is why Jesus said “Follow Me”.
He did not say follow Christians, or follow somebody else. Therefore your relationship with God should not be determined by how others relate with God. Let it be determined how focused you are with God. (My relationship with God Jesus should not be determined by the relationship of others with God. But you and I can learn from the church many good things to grow in faith and love).

How hungry is your soul for God? The psalmist says “my soul thirsts for the Lord”. Bread is such a powerful symbol for what God is giving us in Christ, the bread of life. Without food we die. Without Christ we cannot have abundant life. A life that lasts for eternity. I would like you to hear once again what people did and said to Jesus: John 6:21-25:

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’ (6:21-25)

Looking for Jesus for the Wrong Reasons (6:26)
If Jesus had performed another miracle of feeding 3000 men on that day, then Jesus would simply have been fixing the problem temporarily. And people would have been hungry again. So what did Jesus do? He became the life giving bread. He said “I am the bread of life’ and promises that ‘he who comes to me will never be hungry and he who believes in me will never thirsty’. Jesus is the solution to all our hunger and God the father gave His only Son Jesus who has the power and capacity to satisfy our innate craving and hunger. Jesus was born in “Bethlehem” that means “House of bread” and it is no surprise that today, he identifies himself as the bread of life.

When Jesus called himself the bread of life, his listeners no doubt thought of Moses. Through Moses God sent down manna, bread from heaven that fed the chosen people for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. Jesus explained, “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die” (John 6:49-51).

The Bread of Life Discourse and the Lord’s Supper
The bread of life Jesus speaks of is his body and blood that eventually the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist by the Lord with his Last Supper with His disciples.
In the gospel of Mathew 26: 26-28 ‘the Words of Institution’: “26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'” (Matthew 26:26-28)

When we partake of the Eucharist, Jesus feeds us with his body and blood. We enter into communion with him and with one another. Unlike other food, which becomes part of us, Jesus in the sacrament of Holy Communion, the sacred bread and wine makes us more like him. Therefore we, too, are to be bread for the world to many who are searching for the bread of life in the Lord Jesus. The living bread sustains us and prepares us for that day when we will come to the heavenly banquet. It is a pledge of future glory. It is the means by which Christ fulfills his promise, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). When we eat the Bread of Life Jesus lives in us and we live in the Lord. God provides us with food, through Jesus, for our journey through this life.

In Exodus 3 Moses meets God in the burning bush and asks God’s name… It is there that he declares “I AM Who I AM”. This is the name Jesus takes for Himself. What does that mean? Jesus is God – the Divine Redeemer of the world.

There’s so much more to life than daily bread/ food, fame, wealth and power. That is why our hearts are not satisfied with all the success and glory of this world. That is why St. Augustine prayed “O Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in You.”
We can try to fill our lives with work, hoping that achievement and success will make that inner restlessness, that inner gnawing, that inner hunger go away. But the harder we work, the hungrier we get. No amount of recreational therapy – be it gold medal sports or exotic cruises -will plug the gap. Doesn’t matter how many friends or relationships you’ve got, trying to find in someone else what we are lacking in ourselves, the spiritual hole in the soul will still be there.
Jesus Christ alone satisfy hunger of our hearts.
Jesus brings heaven to earth. Jesus unites God and humanity in Himself. Jesus fills our lives with holy vitality and power. Jesus is Bread with a capital B which gives life with a capital L.
The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. That is why Jesus says “I am the bread of life”.

We have the life to live to the best of our ability. There are many possibilities and potentialities that God has blessed us with. Therefore when we get hurt; when our life become tough; when we lose the loved ones; when we are diagnosed with cancer, covid 19 and many chronic deceases we need to become strong in faith and hope. It is easy to believe God when everything goes well. But when we face the storms in our life, we question God. Why Me? Life is for living. Life takes sacrifices, challenges, setbacks and miseries. But in the midst of all these one should celebrate the life because many could not make it today. You are still alive. You are breathing. As long as your heart is pumping blood you got to do what you got to do.
In all the circumstances trust in the Lord Jesus as the bread of life.

Lessons for all the Disciples and followers

  1. True disciples must look beyond the physical blessings to hunger for spiritual life, eternal life (6:26-27).
  2. Eternal life is gained by faith, not by certain works of righteousness (6:28-29).
  3. Jesus is the Bread of Life who nourishes people spiritually and gives them eternal life (6:35).

I would like to end with humor:
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, ‘when I get to heaven I will ask Jonah’.
The teacher asked, ‘What if Jonah went to hell?’
The little girl replied, ‘Then you ask him’.

Prayer
Jesus, please teach me how to feed on you more than I do. I do believe in you; increase my faith, my willingness to obey, and the effectiveness of my ministry on your behalf. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.