Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Faith, Belief and Holy Trinity

by Jim Love

Sermon Based on John 6:41-51

Let's admit it, the Gospel of John is difficult to understand. So can we blame Jesus' critics who are confused when he says, "I am the bread that came down from heaven"?

But before we get to Jesus, lets clear up one misunderstanding about Jesus critics, "the Jews". Often John's gospel has been misused by bigots and anti-Semites who don't know their bibles. First, everyone in this story are Jews, including Jesus. The phase "the Jews" means those who are critical of Jesus, or it means "the religious authorities." Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past, and think the Gospel is talking about the whole Jewish people as the enemies of Jesus. For we know the truth, without the witness of the Jews, and without our Jewish Saviour, none of us would have come to believe in the Good News.

When we hear Jesus say, "I am the bread that has come down from heaven." What do we hear? Do we take this literally ... wondering if Jesus is Whole Wheat, Multi-grain, or perhaps sliced Wonder Bread? What do we hear when Jesus says that he has come down from heaven? His critics were certainly confused about Jesus strange talk since they replied "Is this not Jesus, son of Joseph, we know his mother and father?

But Jesus does not respond to their criticism or even their question. Instead he focuses on the core of the issue. Faith and Knowledge of God. He says, "No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me ..." Here Jesus tells us that everyone who has come to be a follower of Jesus did so because God the Father, called them to Jesus. It is an act of God that brought us to follow the way of Jesus. The power to risk entering into the Christian life as a follower of Jesus came from God. Faith is a gift. But then, what is this word "faith"?

We use the word often enough in the English language; Oxford defines faith as "a noun.; complete trust, unquestioning confidence, strong belief, loyalty, trustworthiness. It says ... a noun. But from what we see of Jesus ... faith is not a noun, but rather a verb. This may seem subtle, so stay with me.

First, let's look at another word key to the Christian life. Let's look at, "Believe". When we say, "I believe"? What do we mean by that? Do we mean, holding to a set of ideas ... "I believe in God" meaning, "I think there is a God." I believe Jesus rose from the dead." Meaning, I think he rose from the dead." No, that would a misunderstanding of the word "believe".

You see, "faith and belief" are not about ideas so much as they are about a way of life. According to the Biblical witness and the witness of the church, to believe, is to live a certain way. Just as with the word "faith". It means something active. It is not just about ideas, but rather about doing & being. To follow Jesus is to live by faith; to believe means to, in response to God, make changes to one's lifestyle to reflect a believers life.

And so I ask this question; "How has knowing the Holy Trinity ... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made a difference in our lives? How have we responded with changes in our lives because of knowing God? What difference has Jesus made in our lives?"

These may be a tough questions; but then like today in this text from the Gospel of John, Jesus is not making it easy to understand. But Jesus does give us some help, he says, "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me." Here he says that listening for God, and learning from God are key to seeking Jesus.

Key to communities that are growing to seek and grow into strong believers, and faithful servants of Jesus, is a heartfelt commitment to learn from God. And Good News, God is willing to be present and teach us. Jesus quotes scripture saying, "And they shall be taught by God." That when we seek to listen for God, and deepen our knowledge of God, the Holy One will give us guidance. Often in the church this is called "revelation." God will reveal God's self to us, and we will grow in faith.

You see, we Christians believe that growing in faith too is a gift from God. If we attempt to become good by our own efforts we eventually become frustrated, disillusions or worse, deluded. Paul called this "living by the flesh", whereas the Christian grows by "living in the Spirit"; this is living by God's power in our lives. And, the Good News is that if ask for God's power in our lives, God will answer with blessings. It might not be the blessing we asked for, but God will bless.

Do you realize the implications of the Good News!? God is with us when we learn, and God is also with us when we worship. Think about it; God has promised that whenever we gather, God will show us. We may occasionally have to put up with dull hymns and sermons that are too long, but when we gather, exciting news; the Triune God will show up. Do we grasp the reality of that ... that the ruler of the Universe has shown show up here at Shiloh, right now. And if we have ears to hear is speaking a word to us.

Listen, that is what the whole of the Gospel of John is about. That God showed up in the flesh. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word, the divine reality come in Jesus. And so, to know Jesus, is to know God. And to seek Jesus ... "The Word", is to seek eternal life; that means, real human living ... not what we often settle for right now; for inwardly we know that there is more. But those who have been awakened by God know that something is missing in our lives; they know about the need for salvation. Our need to be more fully human ... to be restored. Not just us, but the whole of creation is groaning for redemption.

You see, the core of the reality that Christians point to and try to live out as best they can, is that we worship a God who is unwilling to leave the world as it is. Who is unwilling to leave humanity & creation, fallen as it is ... left to its oppressive, warlike, and greedy ways. God is for us, and is seeking us ... calling us towards eternal life. Life that does not wear humanity down, but builds us up. Life that does not leave humanity parched and empty, but life that makes us spring to life ready to share the abundance of creation with others. The good news is that, God is willing to feed humanities hunger with the bread of life. Feed the world with Jesus ... as Jesus says, "the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Jesus wants us to eat him because he IS bread. Has anyone heard this saying, "You are what you eat?" {wait for them to put up their hands} Jesus is bread and he wants us to eat his flesh. Not to just say that "he is bread and that we should eat him". But to do it ... to consume him. To bring him into the core of our being. To live and act in such a way that we accept the gift of his very essence. To learn about Jesus and grow in knowledge of him. To let him become our closest friend. And he will come into our lives; regardless of who we have been, or how unqualified we feel. Let us live the life of faith ... making changes so that he becomes a staple of our life, not a side dish, or God forbid, something left to spoil in the freezer.

Let us be a people where Jesus as something we consumer every day ... part of who we are, so that Sunday to Saturday, as we grow into Jesus, and he grows in us, our lives become transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we become more like him; and share in the joyous and challenging life of being the body of Christ for the world; bread for a hungry world, and drink for those who thirst for justice, peace, fullness of life, and even eternal life.


Copyright 2007, Jim Love, Vernon BC

See Also:

I am the Bread of Life
by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil

Human Inability
by Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

Homily on the Gospel of John 6:28-40
by John Chrysostom

Homily on John 6: 41-50
by John Chrysostom

Bread of Life
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

I am the Bread of Life
by Rev. Dn George Mathew

I am the Bread of Life
by Rev. Fr.K.K. John

Foundation of the Holy Eucharist
by Rev. Fr. Thomas Ninan

Look to the Son and believe in Him!
by Rev. Fr. Mathew Chacko

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for Sunday Before Pentecost

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