Sermon Outline On John 6:51-58Â (NRSV)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 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.”
Jesus said, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.’ Most of you know that this text was originally written in the Greek language. That word translated ‘eats’ in the Greek language has connected to its meaning the idea of eating only one time. In other words Jesus is saying, ‘Whoever eats only one time of this living bread will live forever.’ Living bread. Eat it just one time and live forever. This living bread that came down from heaven’“one serving is all it takes. Eat it just once and it will be enough for all time to come.
The gospels make it clear that Jesus Christ came down from heaven so that in believing in Him as the only Son of the living God and believing that he came to be our Savior, we might have eternal life. In the light of this gospel message, ‘eating only once’ probably is referring to the idea that belief leads to eternal life, salvation. In Wesleyan theology we use the term ‘justification.’ We are justified before the Almighty, Holy, Creator God by believing in Jesus Christ. We are seen by God almighty Just-as-if-I’d never sinned. Jesus has bridged the ‘holiness’ gap between us and God. One taste of the ‘living bread’ is all it takes.
But Jesus doesn’t stop with that one phrase. Jesus continues to talk about ‘eating’ his flesh. He says this ‘living bread’ is his flesh. Jesus says, ‘who eat my flesh,’ ‘whoever eats me,’ and ‘who eats this bread.’ As Jesus continues this teaching, John’s gospel uses a different Greek word for eat. These times the word used is a courser word, a word that refers to animals munching on their food. I get the idea of gnawing. Maybe even consuming in a ravenous way. Continually consuming.
There is more to this ‘living bread’ than the idea that once is enough. Jesus speaks of eating this bread in an animal like way. Constantly feeding on the ‘living bread.’ One commentary suggests that ‘eating and drinking are the very epitome of intimacy and union’. In other words, the New Testament Christians understood eating and drinking are used as a way of describing things that are intimate and uniting in nature. Eating the ‘living bread’ speaks of living our eternal lives beginning from this very moment in a close, intimate way.
Bread has a single function. It is ingested to bring life. Consuming the ‘living bread’ brings life’“eternal life. This eternal life is a spiritual life that begins with the consumption of the ‘living bread.’ Do you believe that you are living a spiritual life?
Do you watch the History Channel. There was a program on the high speed trains of the world. It told of the development of the different designs of high speed trains. There are extremely fast trains in Europe. This program caused me to think about how Europeans depend on trains’“slow trains and fast trains.
How many people do you know who depend on the train for daily transportation. People of New York city depend on trains to get back and forth to work in Manhattan and elsewhere. In Texas, the car is king. We independent minded folk don’t need trains to get around. We have set independence as a priority. We take pride in being independent.
For Christians, that radical dependence is upon God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When Jesus says eat the ‘living bread,’ he is speaking of radical dependence upon him. He is speaking about living our lives in a oneness with him. A Christian song says something like living so close to Jesus right now that when I get to heaven, I don’t know the difference. The song is speaking of spiritual lives lived today that extend to eternity. These are lives that come out of consuming the ‘living bread.’ Feasting on the ‘living bread’ keeps our lives centered on Jesus Christ. Feasting on the ‘living bread’ keeps us focused on God’s will and not our own.
There is several interesting aspects of the Psalms. Did you know that Psalm 118 is the middle chapter in our Bible? Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse. It is interesting that this middle verse is also at the center of our faith. It reads, ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals.’ Place your trust in God not human beings! I would add especially ourselves. Anything less than radical dependence upon God and we are eating ‘stale bread’ not ‘living bread.’