Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Bread of Life, The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, Mothers Day
Volume 8 No. 480 May 11, 2018
 
II. Lectionary Reflections: Bread of Life

Come to the Table

by The Rev. William D. Oldland

Gospel: John 6:53-59

The Gospel:

So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."

He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

I am very glad I was not a missionary of the church during the 17 and 1800's. I would not have wanted to be in that position and used this scripture to convert people in Africa, South America and Australia. Some of the people in these areas had different dietary habits than the Europeans. So, here comes the missionary. He reads to them, "Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." The missionary is thinking about the Eucharist. The bread and the wine becoming the body and blood of Christ. Some of the people to whom the missionaries were speaking were cannibals. They were thinking dinner. They believed the missionary believed in the same practices they did. Since the missionary was not of their people that made him the perfect candidate for the main course.

This type of behavior was seen as improper and immoral. In most cases the people to whom the missionary was talking were blamed and named as savages, decadent and immoral. Actually, the missionaries and the people were talking on two completely different wavelengths. The missionaries did not know the people and they did not know their characteristics. The first meetings were absolute disasters in communication. The missionaries could not communicate correctly what they were trying to say. They did not know their audience.

The same issue is present in today's Gospel reading. We have come in on the last part of a long discussion between Jesus and some of the leaders of the Jewish people. The discussion concerns the true identity of Jesus Christ as the way to eternal life. Jesus tells them He is the way to eternal life. He also tells them that in order to be part of him they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Now, the flesh has been a reference back to the manna in the wilderness. Drinking the blood does not have the same reference. In fact, drinking the blood of any animal is against the dietary laws of the Jewish people. Even the suggestion of drinking blood would be offensive to these leaders. So, what is really happening in this Gospel lesson?

First of all, the main audience is not the Jewish leaders of the story. John is writing this Gospel to Christians. The reference here to flesh and blood is then a true reference to the Eucharist. This story is directly pointed at the members of the Christian church in John's own time. These are the Christians of the early church in the very early second century.

All through the first six chapters of John, Jesus has been referred to as the source of life. It is one of the central themes. Now, it is made clear that eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ is a condition for receiving the gift of eternal life. In these verses the explicit reference to the Eucharist tells the community how to receive eternal life. To a community that already has the experience of the Eucharist in their lives these verses can make sense. To people outside of the community these verses may not make sense and in fact may be misinterpreted. As we have already discovered these misinterpretations have already occurred.

However, to those people of the community these verses have a distinctive interpretation. As the members of the community come to the Eucharist they are drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship is described in the word abide. The word abide is used to describe the very intimate relationship of the believer to Jesus. It also describes the intimate relationship between God and Jesus. To participate in the Eucharist means to enter into this deep, intimate relationship between God and Jesus. To participate in the Eucharist means to have eternal life. To participate in the Eucharist means we live in this relationship of eternal love with the One who created us to love. So to come to the table of God is to respond yes to a deep relationship with God, yes to eternal life, and yes to love God and to love each other. To come to the table of God is to say yes to God's presence in our lives.

These verses assure us of the love of God. These verses also assure us of how available God wants to be to us. All we have to do is come and be present with God. Today, we are invited to come to the table of the Lord. Jesus is the host. He has prepared the table for each of us. We are all welcome to receive the body and blood of our Savior. We are welcome to have an intimate relationship with God.

AMEN

Source: St. Thomas' Episcopal Church

Hymn: Bread of Life
[Verse]

How could it be, the One so perfect
Could give so much for me?
And now I see what true grace is
Displayed for all to see

[Pre-Chorus]

For You have loved me
Though I have failed You over and over

You have loved me
Though I have failed You over and over

[Chorus]

Bread of life
You have won me
You have filled me, Lord

Bread of life
You're all-consuming
Your blood renews my life

Bread of li-i-i-ife

[Verse]

How could it be, the One so perfect
Could give so much for me?
And now I see what true grace is
Displayed for all to see

[Pre-Chorus]

For You have loved me
Though I have failed You over and over
You have loved me
Though I have failed You over and over

[Chorus]

Bread of life
You have won me
You have filled me, Lord
Bread of life

You're all-consuming
Your blood renews my life
Bread of li-i-ife (li-i-i-i-i-ife)
Bread of li-i-ife, li-i-i-i-i-ife

[Bridge]

Come nourish my soul
I'll drink from You, Lord
You sustain me, You fulfil me
Come nourish my soul

I'll drink from You, Lord
You sustain me, You fulfil me
Come nourish my soul
I'll drink from You, Lord

You sustain me, You fulfil me
Come nourish my soul
I'll drink from You, Lord
You sustain me and You fulfil me

[Chorus 2]

Bread of life
You have won me
You have filled me, Lord

Hymn: The Supper of the Lord

by Laurence Rosania

Precious body precious blood
Here in bread and wine
Here the Lord prepares the feast divine
Bread of love is broken now
Cup of life is poured
Come share the supper of the Lord

This is the bread of God
Coming down from heaven
Giving life to us, to all the world

Precious body precious blood
Here in bread and wine
Here the Lord prepares the feast divine
Bread of love is broken now
Cup of life is poured
Come share the supper of the Lord

I am the living spring of eternal life
You that drink from me shall not thirst again

Precious body precious blood
Here in bread and wine
Here the Lord prepares the feast divine
Bread of love is broken now
Cup of life is poured
Come share the supper of the Lord

I am the bread of heav'n giving life to you
You that eat this bread shall never die.

Precious body precious blood
Here in bread and wine
Here the Lord prepares the feast divine
Bread of love is broken now
Cup of life is poured
Come share the supper of the Lord

All those who feed on me
Have their life in me
As I have my life in the living God

Christ - The Living Bread

by Dr. Robert Hymers

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).

Jesus said, "I am the living bread." In verse thirty-five, He said, "I am the bread of life." Jesus is speaking of Himself. By these words, He tells us to focus our minds and our hearts on Him.

It is wise to keep our preaching focused on Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14). Paul felt that the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross deserved his full attention and admiration. Furthermore, the Apostle said that his preaching must be centered, not on philosophy or speculation, but on Christ's atonement, for he said, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2). In these dark days of religious confusion, I think it is best if we stand firmly with the Apostle, and make the crucified Christ the very center of our faith and our preaching, and say with him, "I [am] determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

It was Himself that Christ proclaimed to be "the bread of life." If you want to be a true Christian, you should feed on Christ as you feed on earthly bread. But He is better bread than that which we buy at the grocery store. That bread is dying bread. Even with the chemicals and preservatives put into most store-bought bread, it can hardly be called "living bread." It would be better described as "dying bread," for it will soon gather mold and begin to decay, even if you keep it in the refrigerator. Not so with Christ! He said,

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven"
(John 6:51).

I. First, He is the living bread.

True, they beat Him and nailed Him to a cross. True, He suffered greatly there, and shed His precious Blood for us. True, He died there. Yes, He truly did die there. The centurion pierced His side,

"and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:34).

True, they took His broken, dead body, placed it in a tomb,

"So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch" (Matthew 27:66).

But, dear friends, He did not stay dead in that tomb! Oh, no! He broke the bars of death, and walked forth from the tomb a living man! The angel of God told them,

"Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said" (Matthew 28:5-6).

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise; Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise. Alleluia!
("Christ the Lord is Risen Today" by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Christ said, "I am the living bread" because He is alive. He has risen bodily from the dead! He has ascended into Heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father! Let every lost sinner take refuge and comfort in the living Christ! He has risen from the dead to give you life! He said,

"I am the living bread" (John 6:51).

II. Second, He is the life-giving bread.

He said,

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever "
(John 6:51).

When a person comes to Jesus Christ, and partakes of Him by faith, "He shall live for ever."

He will live for ever because he has taken of the bread of life, which is our Lord Jesus. In the very moment that person trusts Jesus, he has eternal life. Think of it! What a glorious message from Christ this is!

"If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever" (John 6:51).

There is eternal life in Christ. When you come to Him, and unite with him by faith, you "shall live for ever."

I know that some will qualify this. They are depending on their own strength and abilities to keep themselves saved. But this is not what our Lord said. He told us that the moment a sinner eats of this bread, by faith in Him, in that very moment, "he shall live for ever!" (John 6:51).

Note that he "shall live for ever." This is the strong doctrine of eternal security - and I believe in it with all my heart. Christ does not say, "You will live if you don't stumble." He does not say, "You will live if you work hard at it." That's what the lost world thinks. But it is not what Christ said. Oh, no! He said,

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever" (John 6:51).

The man or woman, boy or girl, who partakes of Christ by faith in Him "shall live for ever." There are no qualifiers other than eating the bread, which is a metaphor for trusting Jesus, coming to Him, relying on Him. The moment you do that you "shall live for ever." You can never, ever become a lost person again, for you have eaten the bread of life, and you will live forever!

You say, "But what if my faith wavers?" "He shall live for ever." "But what if I stumble in my walk with God?" "He shall live for ever." "But what if I do something mean?" "He shall live for ever." You have the absolute promise, if you have trusted Christ, you will live forever. That is the "eternal security of the believer" - and I for one believe in it with all my heart. Jesus said,

"I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man [that includes you] neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28).

No one, including yourself, "neither shall any man" pluck you away from God once Christ has given you eternal life! That is Christ's promise, and He cannot lie!

Jesus my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no power of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul,
Now I belong to Him;
Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone, But for eternity.
("Now I Belong to Jesus" by Norman J. Clayton, 1943).

"If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever" (John 6:51).

III. Third, He is the sacrificed bread.

One more time, stand and read John 6:51 aloud.

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).

You may be seated. Our Lord Jesus is the sacrificed bread. The "bread" refers to His flesh, which He gave "for the life of the world."

Can we preach too often on this? I don't think so. The Apostle Paul said,

"The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified" (I Corinthians 1:22-23).

Again, he said,

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

This is the strong meat of the Gospel. Christ died on the Cross to pay your sin-debt to God. Christ died vicariously, in your place, for your sins. When you take Christ for your own by faith, His death pays for all your sins, and His Blood cleanses every one of them.

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world"
(John 6:51).

Christ is the bread of life. Christ is the bread God sent down from Heaven to dwell among us. Christ said, "I am the living bread" (John 6:51). All those who trust Him and come to Him, and partake of him "shall live for ever." This is all made possible because the bread He gave was His own flesh, which He provided on the Cross "for the life of the world."

Do you want to "live for ever"? Then come to Christ. Be washed clean by His Blood - and you will never perish - for He will give you everlasting life, and you will live forever. You will never be able to lose this precious gift, for you will always and forever be eternally "accepted in the beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). Amen.

Source: A sermon preached on February 12, 2006 in Los Angeles, CA, USA

From Malankara World Journal Archives

Malankara World Journals with the Theme: Bread of Life

Volume 8 No 477 Apr 27, 2018
Themes: The Bread of Life, Faith

Volume 7 No 420 June 9, 2017
Themes: Bread of Life

Volume 7 No 415 May 12, 2017
Theme: Bread of Life

Volume 6 No 345 April 22 2016
Theme: Bread of Life

Volume 5 No 283: May 1 2015
Theme: Bread of Eternal Life

Volume: 4 No: 200 
I am Statements of Jesus
I am the Bread of Life

Next

Malankara World Journal is published by MalankaraWorld.com http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/
Copyright © 2011-2018 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.