PENTECOST 11, B – August 9, 2015

 SCRIPTURES – 1 Kings 19:1-8; Eph. 4:17-5:2; John 6:35-51; Psalm 34

(Pastor Coffey)




Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Some 3500 years ago, the children of Israel asked a question:  "What is it?" when God caused bread to rain down from heaven for them.  In fact, these people asked the very same question every day for forty years:  "What is it?"  Our Lord Jesus Christ, some 1450 years later, provided the answer for them'.  "I am that Bread having come down from heaven...!""...Feast on me and you will never be hungry ... !"  The Jews of that day asked yet another question the answer which still applies as much today as yesterday:  "What works does God desire of us that we may have eternal life?"  Jesus informs the multitude that it is not our works that pleases the heavenly Father, but instead faith and faith alone.  Our Lord states in verse 29 of the text that the pure and holy work of God is belief.  The Word of God prevails over all adversity.  Jesus utters just one single sentence and serves notice to everyone who would like to think that heaven can be attained by personal merit.  For the work of God is to believe in the one whom He has sent.


As soon as these remarkable words left Jesus' mouth the crowd began to grumble amongst themselves concerning Jesus.  Half in doubt and the other half in dissatisfaction with what they heard.  The audacity of this man claiming that He has come down from heaven ... sent by God ... to be living food for His children!  The words of Jesus contain a mysterious, wonderful promise.  But the Jews do not understand.  They wrestle with its meaning and use a fleshly fallen wisdom to interpret Jesus' words as pertaining to their own selfish material hopes.  Our Lord Jesus, however, in one sentence has delivered to all mankind, the gift that keeps on giving; a contribution of divine proportions to a sinful and rebellious world:  Himself.  Christ has come to secure for Himself all that the heavenly Father has given to Him just as verse 40 of the text states: "For this is the will of My Father...everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life” (6:40).  The divine will of God is not left in general terms, but in fact expresses the specific act of redemption that the Triune God will accomplish through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, God's Son.


The salvation that Christ brings to us not fleeting, but eternal.  It is something that He has given and indeed continues to give to us His children!  This is intended to be the greatest comfort to believers; the assurance of salvation is not dependent upon our feeble hold on Christ Jesus, but upon His mighty and everlasting grip on us!  Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus!


Alas, the Jews continue to grumble, says verse 41 of the text.  The powerful Word of God the Son has fallen upon spiritually deaf ears.  They do not care that partaking and feasting upon Jesus will give life.  They are instead acutely myopic.  They are completely offended at Jesus' claim to have come down from heaven!  To put this another way, the Jews are offended that Jesus has been sent from the Heavenly Father and that He Himself enjoys a unique and completely divine relationship as God's Son!  The underlying point of this discourse is that saving faith is, in and of itself, something that comes from God.  Saving faith, dear Christian friends is part of the creative expression of God's love.  It is accomplished uniquely through the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit and it is based upon the objective work of God in Christ.


Mankind loves to feel independent.  The idea of being dependent upon something carries with it very strong, negative feelings.  We want to feel like we can do things on our own.  "Don't help me, I'll do it myself!"  There are many who have foolishly carried this idea into theology and so some say that we can "decide" whether or not to follow Jesus!  This "Decision Theology" is completely false.  Moreover it is very, very dangerous.  Our Lord Jesus Himself, in His own words tells us that this foolish idea is an utter impossibility.  Verse 43 states it ever so clearly: “No one can come to Me (Jesus) unless the Father draws him” (6:43).


The plain and simple truth is that dependency upon God in Christ Jesus is good for you and me.  We need to be dependent upon the saving Word of Jesus Christ in the same way that we are dependent upon food to sustain and nourish our physical bodies.  "Give us this day our daily bread." It is in this petition that we lift up before the Lord God two requests:  That He graciously provide for all of our needs in body AND in spirit.


Our Lord Jesus Christ offers Himself to us in His Word, but all too many times it is a gift given or offered, but often times a gift rejected.  We can be a stiff-necked people; wanting to do everything on our own and we want to have everything our own way.  The plain truth may stare us down, but we are all too ready to see before us a false truth and in turn continue down our Godless roads, alone and in need; lost in the dark and searching frantically to find light at the end of our tunnels of greed, sin, contempt and hatred.


Martin Luther, just before God called him home to heaven, weakly scribbled a message to a friend, which read:  "We are beggars, that is true."  I don't know that I'll ever really fully understand how profound this statement is and how it really cuts into man's greatest need.  We are creatures separated from our Creator by a valley of sin.  This valley of sin is so great that it is impassable without God's help.  We will never make it on our own; we must be completely dependent on our heavenly Father!  Because He knows our greatest need.  He sent us His Son that He might nourish us spiritually; that we might be participants in His eternal Feast of Victory!


Dear Christian friends, the need that all of humanity has to be reconciled to Christ Jesus is best understood by looking into the eyes of our children!  Just look into the eyes of one of God's "little ones" whom He loves.  See in their eyes, your need -- OUR need.  See their need.  I am trusting thee Lord Jesus, trusting only Thee.  Trusting Thee for full salvation great and free!  The work of God is to believe in the one He has sent.  Saving faith is the greatest of good works!


We may at times be lost in our own little worlds, trying every so hopelessly to find our way through the maze called "LIFE".  When you are lost and it doesn't seem as if there is any way out, just look to the Cross!  The image of Christ Crucified is our beacon that draws us back from the exile of sin and death.  Let Christ show you the way!  Find comfort in knowing that our Lord's tomb is empty.  His victory over death and the devil is complete.  Jesus is summoning you to His banquet - the Ongoing Feast.  Recline into His bosom and be fed the Word of Life.  Receive from Him the ripe and bountiful fruits of the spirit and do not be afraid for the Word of God is near you', it is in your mouth and in your heart!  Amen.


The Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus now and forever.  Amen.