Archive for the ‘Pentecost 10B’ Category

What is This Eating and Drinking?

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

10th Sunday After Pentecost, August 9, 2009

Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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Introduction: This morning, Jesus says to us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” [Jn. 6:35]  All of us by nature hunger for a relationship with God.  This hunger’s been with us since the fall of Adam and Eve.  Since Adam’s fall into sin, the relationship that man once had with God has been severed.  Innate within each of us is a longing to love God and be loved by Him.  Each of us was created to love God and to live out His purpose in our lives… we know it with every fiber of our being!  Many people spend their entire lives trying to find meaning and purpose for their lives.  They try to fill that God sized hole with anything that seems to work.  Anything except the one thing God says we need, Jesus Christ.


Self help books, new age religions, cults, and false religions all claim to hold the key to fulfillment—yet each of them ultimately provides the same result, disappointment.  A hunger to love God and to be loved by Him still remains strong.  Many people immerse themselves in their careers or some noble cause, yet the emptiness remains.  It is an itch that can’t be scratched and a throbbing pain that can’t be soothed.  And to this emptiness Jesus proclaims to us this morning, “I am the bread of life; whoever believes in me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”


I. Baptismal Doubts: Dear friends in your baptism, Jesus has filled you with God.  In your baptism, He has filled the hole in your aching heart with all that His Father promised—He has filled you with the love of God; now that relationship between man and God, which was once broken has now been repaired.  The hunger for knowing God is no longer out of your reach but it’s yours daily to feed and satisfy.  In our gospel reading this morning, the Galileans grumble and said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose Father and Mother we know?  How does he now say, “I have come down from Heaven” [v. 42] Today, we still hear a similar challenge to our Lord, and it goes like this: “Isn’t this the same Jesus that I was taught about as a child?  Isn’t this the same faith that taught me that my baptism saved me?  If all of that stuff is true then why hasn’t it worked for me?  Why do I feel like I’m no better off than other people who never even knew Jesus?  No thanks, I’ve tried that Jesus business and it didn’t get me anywhere, so forget it.  No, I need something more… something stronger… something I can put my whole body, mind, and spirit into; something that will give me real satisfaction.


To this, Jesus replies “Stop your grumbling!  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. [vs. 44]  Ah, now the Lord is speaking to our real need.  “Yes Jesus, that is exactly what we’ve been needing.  We want to be drawn by God; we want to come to Him.  That’s the ache in our hearts that seems can never be soothed!  And to this, Jesus says, “Friends, when you see me, you see the Father.  I and the Father are one!”  “(Remember I said) that you have seen me and yet you do not believe.” [vs.37] “Quit doubting and believe!”  “I am the bread of life.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone comes to me I will never cast them out.  If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. [vs. 48, 50] 


II. Baptismal Life: You see friends, in your baptism, you were given everything you need to have not just a full and meaningful life here, right now, but you were also given the eternal gift of peace with God.  It doesn’t matter whether you were a baby or an adult when you were baptized; it’s the same gift—eternal life!  It doesn’t matter if you can remember the feel of water upon your body or the power of God’s Word that saved you, recreated you, and made you whole, because God remembers friends, in fact He has sealed you with the Holy Spirit, so that you are now His!  Besides, He has ensured that there is an ample supply of water around you, so that you may touch it, splash it, even dunk yourself in it, if that is what you need to remember that He has saved you.  But what will you remember?  Well, you will remember, through the hearing, reading, and preaching of His Word that He has chosen you and saved you.  He has filled you with His living Word, His bread of life, so that you need not hunger for His love ever again!  


Dear friends, it’s the Word of God that draws you into His love and forgiveness.  It’s God’s Word that invites you to experience His love through His chosen means and not the means that this sinful world has declared will give meaning to your life.  It is through His means alone that He has decided to bring you back to Him.  In other words,  you can only know the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.  To get to God friends, we must believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized—believing in Jesus means trusting in Him completely.  Friends, God is telling us that we must shut our eyes and ears to every other method that this sinful world says will give us peace, and trust in Christ alone!  Yes, it does requires letting go of other things that you may have grown accustom to, but God promises that you will never be the same once you experience His love through faith in His Son.


Many of you know that I have recently gone through a battle with cancer.  I stand before you not just as your pastor, but as a man that was forced to let go of everything that gave him security and cling to Christ alone.  When the prognosis was delivered, I immediately and naturally felt fear.   I tried to rationalize my way into hope and peace, but that soon gave way to worry.  I began to think about things like, “What would happen to my wife if I die?  No,” I thought, “there must be some way out of this!”   I began to feverishly research the internet for any hope concerning my cancer.  In regards to Anal Cancer I had, it was in stage 3B or 4A, I had a 30 to 40% chance of death within a few years.  Now, fear and worry was no longer my biggest concern, panic was!  In a desperate attempt to find peace, I threw myself down on my face and began to pray the most powerful prayer one can ever pray: “HELP!”  Immediately after that prayer, I began to feel a perfect peace that completely surrounded me.  Suddenly, I was no longer afraid.  I stood on my feet, and I knelled at this very altar and simply rested in God’s love.  And then, a very still, soft voice whispered to me, “I will never leave or forsake you!  Will you trust me?”  “Yes Lord, Yes!” I sobbed.  At that moment friends I knew that everything would be perfect, because God was in control.  Why was I so certain?  Because His Son Jesus died for me, and because I trust in His Son’s love!  I immediately went to my Bible, and began to let God’s Word speak to my heart.  And here is the Word that He gave me: Fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.” [Psalm 50:14-15]  What was the vow that I made?  Well, I imagine that it is the same one you made at your confirmation—I vowed to continue believing and loving Jesus as my Savior with the help of God!  Has He delivered me, you better believe it!  And He will continue until I go home to be with Him!  And telling you my story is how I am honoring Him.


Dear friends, St. Paul in our Epistle lesson calls this trust in Jesus, the putting on of the new self.  But to do this we must daily return to our Baptism, because it was there at the font where God’s creative Word first gave us new life—a life free from the guilt of sin and packed full of His assurance that He does loves us and will never leave us, because of our faith in His Son!  Putting on the new self also means that we will also forsake the old self, our old sinful nature.  Every day, God wants us to drown that sinful nature in the waters of our baptism.  He wants us to allow the presence of His living Word to take control of our lives and shatter our old hard hearts.  We do all of this friends, when we turn away from our sinful desires, confess our sins when we fail, and then remember the forgiveness that is ours for all of our sins, through Christ, our living bread!  This is the putting on of the new self.  It is a new identity; an identity created in the image of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ!  When doubt, fear, and worry come, and they will come, God wants us to be willing to let go of these things and simply trust in His love!


III. This is love dear friends, not that we love God but that He first loved us and gave His Son to die for us. [ 1 Jn. 4:10]  Listen to Jesus’ own Words in verse 51: “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [Jn 6:51]  How does He give this life?  Through the sacrifice of His flesh, through His death upon the cross.  How do we receive this gift of life?  By believing that Jesus provided it for you in your baptism; and then friends, we are called to come to Jesus and trust Him as God’s only means to save a sinful world—as God’s only means to save you!  Do you want this gift?  If so, then do not search for it anywhere else but in your baptism.  Close your eyes and ears to the madness of this world and simply rest and trust in God’s means of salvation.  Trust in Christ alone!  Cling to His Word and remember the waters of your baptism and then leave the rest to Him.  This is the eating and drinking that Jesus was talking about—coming to Him and trusting in Him alone!

CONCLUSION: Dear friends, because Jesus is the bread of life for the entire world, He is also your bread of life.  And because of this, you have God’s assurance that as long as you are receiving this bread He will never cast you away.  You are loved by Him forever.  That is the message He wants you to leave here with.  But it is not a message that He wants you to keep to yourself; He wants us as a church to share it with the world.  He wants you as an individual Christian to share it with your neighbor. You may have noticed that for the last few months I have been leaving the lid of the baptismal font open.  I do this to remind us, that mission of the church is to proclaim God’s offer of life giving bread to the world.  We begin this miraculous feeding here at the font.  Are you ready?  Let’s all go out as hungry, redeemed, and saved sinners and simply tell other hungry sinners where God’s living bread is being served–the only bread that can satisfy an eternal apetite.  I pray that God will lead us in this mission always….In Jesus name….Amen!