by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil
Next Sunday is the first Sunday after Ascension. The gospel reading is from John 6:35-46.
Theme: "I am the Bread of Life."
Gospel Reading: (John 6:35-46)
"35 Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven. 42 They said, Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, I came down from heaven? 43 Stop grumbling among yourselves,� Jesus answered. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: They will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. "
There are several "I AM" statements of Jesus that are found in the gospel of St. John. They include:
1. I am the bread of Life which came down from heaven (6:35,41,51)
2. I am the light of the world (8:12; 9:5)
3. I am the door of the sheep (10:7,9)
4. I am the good shepherd (10:11,14)
5. I am the son of God (10:36)
6. I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
7. I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
8. I am the (true) vine (15:1,5)
Each one of the "I AM" statements represents a particular relationship of Jesus to the SPIRITUAL needs of men and women. Jesus is the LIGHT in the darkness, the GATE to security, and the SHEPHERD that guides. He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. In every one of these we see that Jesus wants us to receive him, not for the gifts he can give us, but for what he can be to us. Right after the feeding of the 5 thousand, Jesus made the first of the recorded I AM statements.
This week we witness an important revelation of Jesus, "I am the Bread of Life. He who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes from Heaven which a man can eat and not die. I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world."
Jesus says the words he speaks of is about the spirit. It is the spirit that gives us the life, not the flesh. By faith we partake in Christ. Eating and drinking is the reception of God's grace by believing in Christ. Seeing and believing in Christ is equivalent to eating and drinking his flesh and body. Jesus underlines the necessity of feeding on him by faith to have eternal life. The Eucharist (Holy Qurbono) represents the communion of the believers in his body and blood. The Lord's supper signifies our participation in Christ by faith and the benefits of eternal life through him. Eucharist is the fulfillment of Jesus' sacrifice. Receiving his body and blood through Eucharist is absolutely necessary of salvation.
In this context, Jesus is referring to the spiritual needs of the people. It is the spiritual food that Jesus is offering instead of the physical food. The physical food will not satisfy our spiritual hunger. We need the spiritual food for eternity.
Jesus' words that he is the bread of life and the way to eternal life were not what the crowd that followed him wanted to hear. They wanted Jesus to provide them food the way Moses had provided manna. They wanted more of the feeding of the 5,000 type miracles. They wanted to satisfy their physical hunger. So they rebelled against him.
The reaction of the Jewish leaders to Jesus' claim made them also hostile to Jesus. These leaders were waiting for Jesus to say or do something they could jump on and ridicule him.
The Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a carpenter from Nazareth. They refused to listen to him with an open heart.
Jesus emphatically said, "He who believes in me will have everlasting life." Again Jesus said, "I am the bread of life," linking this statement with meeting man's everyday basic needs, hunger and thirst. Jesus said this could be permanently cured. When their forefathers ate manna in the wilderness, only their physical hunger was met. Jesus said the bread of life he provides is the spiritual food which is the word of God. Jesus offers himself as the bread of eternal life from heaven.
There are many people around us who are hungry for Jesus' words of hope and comfort. When we develop such a hunger, it would be satisfied. If we take the Bread of Life into our life, our lives can be restored to the true way of Christian spirit. Without the spiritual food, our soul will wither and die. In the satisfaction of that spiritual food, we will discover it is not "eternal youth" but "eternal life" that we are searching for. That moment will bring perfect contentment in our life.
Sermons and Bible Commentaries for Sunday Before Pentecost
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