Archive for the ‘Ephesians 5:6-21’ Category

Are You Offended By This?

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

11th Sunday After Pentecost, August 9, 2009

Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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Introduction: This morning Wisdom calls out to us… Listen: Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!  To him who lacks sense, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Leave your simple ways and live and walk in the way of (faith).” [Proverbs 9]  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 (FOR YOU!), is my flesh. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him (them) up on the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in (them).  Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” [Jn. 6: 51-9].


Now that you have heard and received God’s wisdom, then hear His warning: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, through a different teaching.  (Because of this different teaching people refuse to hear and believe that I AM the Living Bread that came down from Heaven.  And because they refuse to believe), the wrath of God (has) come upon them.”  Therefore dear friends, be wise and ensure you’re not found lacking this Bread of Heaven.  Do you take offense at this?


I. Are you trusting in Jesus Christ alone?  Better put, are you trusting in the real Jesus Christ?  The real Jesus is God the Son who was sent on a mission by God the Father to come down out of heaven and save a world enslaved by sin, death, and the devil; His mission is to save you from this captivity through His sacrificial death.  He does this through His flesh!  Listen to Jesus’ own Words: “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  Let these words hit you as they are intended; Jesus is saying, “I will save you with MY FLESH.  MY FLESH and no other!   


But how can flesh, human flesh do this?  This was the question of the Jews in Capernaum and it’s still the question of many today!  Of course we’re not talking about just any flesh.  My flesh can’t save you and neither can any other human flesh.  Only God can save us from sin, death, and the devil, and only He can promise us everlasting life.  If we were to follow the thinking of the Jews, that Jesus is a mere man, then the eating of His flesh would of course be preposterous—it would be an outrageous!  No, if we’re to eat Jesus’ flesh in order to have eternal life, then we need to find out what kind of eating Jesus is talking about.  If you are looking for a rational, scientific explanation for this eating and drinking then you will be disappointed, but if your soul is really hungering and thirsting for eternal life and salvation then Jesus won’t disappoint you.


When Jesus said that you must eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, He’s already given you the answer to this question.  Certainly if He were “just” a man, He couldn’t give us His flesh and blood to consume; but as the Son of man, He is the God-man, who was sent from Heaven as the Savior of our world.  Because He is the Living Bread of Heaven, He can give us His flesh and blood, and we can believe that it is exactly what He says that it is…life for the world!  By pointing us to HIS flesh and blood, Jesus is also pointing us to His death for us upon the cross as a man, but Jesus also says, “As (His) living Father sent Him, and (since) He lives because of the Father sending (His flesh), so (too) whoever feeds on Him; that person will also live because of Him.”  [Vs. 57]  In these words, Jesus assures you that the same God the Father who sent Him to save you, has also drawn you to Himself to receive the life giving flesh of Jesus, so that you too may believe and have life!  This life that we received through faith friends can now be back tracked to its ultimate source, “the living Father,” who is the author of life.  When Jesus says that the living Father sent Him, He is describing His very mission amongst us: to give us perfect life and free us from the death penalty that our many sins deserve! Only Jesus can do this mighty act, because only He is both God and man! 


Friends,  Jesus is the only one who had both divine life and true perfect human life.  To offer you a crude illustration, let’s think of an electric stove.  The coil is made of iron.  Iron is cool to the touch, but if I turn on the electricity, the coil heats up and it becomes red hot—it becomes fire!  “But it is still iron!” we reply, yes but now it is so much more!  Jesus is indeed man, but because He is God in our human flesh, He alone is so much more… only He can free us from our captivity.  You see friends, if only the divine nature of Jesus had God’s perfect life and not His human nature, then He could not give us life by means of His sacrificial flesh and blood, which belong to His human nature.  No, to make His flesh and His blood the means for our salvation, perfect life had to be in them just as perfect life is in the divine nature of God the Son and the living Father who sent Him to us.  Because of the Father’s giving of His Son to us through His death upon the cross, we now have received eternal life through Jesus’ flesh and blood sacrifice for us. 


Now that we know who Jesus is, He encourages us with these Words, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” [vs. 56]  What is this abiding in Jesus?  It doesn’t mean that we simply accept that He exists, and that He suffered, died, and came back to life.  No, you must believe that He suffered, died, and rose from the dead for you!  You must eat this truth by faith and be nourished and brought back to life by this truth and only this truth!  You must chew on every morsel of the Living Word that you receive and guzzle His life giving blood as your only source of hope and salvation.  In short, we’re asked to close your eyes and ears to every other message of hope and by faith receive only the flesh and blood of Jesus.  Jesus is saying, “I alone am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father accept by eating and drinking my flesh and blood!” 


II. When many of Jesus’ own disciples heard (this teaching), they were greatly offended by it and said, “This is a hard (teaching), who can (accept) it?”  This morning friends, Jesus asks us, “Do you take offense at this teaching also?” [vs. 60,61]  Perhaps a better way to ask this question is, “Does this teaching entrap you?”  Has it caught you in unbelief like the angry jaws of a spring trap?  By now, you’ve probably realized like the disciples did, that Jesus is talking about His Words and His teaching when He says His flesh and blood?  How does this make you feel?  Maybe you too are angry because of the finality of this teaching, a teaching that clearly says there is no other saving truth outside of Jesus?  Maybe you’re thinking about loved ones who have rejected God’s only means of salvation and seem to be intent on dying without receiving everlasting life?  Does it seem unfair that there is no other way to please God?  Well this is how many of His disciple felt after this teaching.  Until that sermon, they were happy to tell everyone that Jesus was perhaps one of the best preachers that ever walked the land; but after this sermon… they found Him strange… preaching a stupid sermon!  He seemed too arrogant—“If He had just stayed with preaching about the 10 Commandments, He would have been the best who ever stepped into a pulpit, but this faith in Him alone business is just a bit too much!” 


Friends, its human nature to be offended by the gospel… it’s in our sinful nature to want to earn rewards from God for our good behavior.  But this is not God’s way… this is not the way of faith—a faith which must cling to Jesus alone.  It is by faith that we learn to shut our ears and eyes to all other teachings and simply say, “Let anyone who refuses to stand by faith fall, and let me dear Lord stand by faith in Jesus Christ alone through Your Word, which is the Living Bread!”


III. Friends, God knows about our struggle to believe in His Son alone, and that is why Jesus says, “it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no help at all.  The Words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” [vs. 64].  Just before these words, our Lord asked the doubters this question: “What if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” [62] Now this question must have made no sense to them at all, but it does to us!  Through the perspective of time, we know that with this question Jesus is pointing our thoughts up towards heaven and He is providing the great key that unlocks all of His teaching.  As the Bread of Life, the Son of God who descended from Heaven has now returned to where He came from.  Why is this important?  We’ll let Jesus own words which He spoke before He ascended into heave answer this: “I am going to him who sent me… I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [John 16]


Friends, through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word gives us faith and eternal life!  Through the Holy Spirit, the Bread from Heaven is always feeding our souls and strengthening our faith.  He has been serving you this living bread since your baptism.  Each time you stumble in sin, you know through the Work of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word you are forgiven. Will you come to His table of mercy and feast on the body and blood of the Son of God?   Or do you want to go away as well?  I pray that you will stay and feast…in Jesus name….AMEN!