13th Sunday of Pentecost
August 19, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart
I would love to take you with me to go to the synagogue in Capernaum, on the north shore of the lake we call the Sea of Galilee. The place where Jesus spoke the words in our Gospel this morning. I've been there about 4 times. I've worshiped there, in about 3 languages! And in the universal language... Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia !!
But what Jesus said that day, got mixed reviews!
Have you ever gone away from a sermon and asked, "What did he/she just say?" Don't answer that!!
That's what happened with Jesus.
Our reading this morning is just 6 or 7 verses near the end of John 6, but a lot has been going on through this whole chapter. We've been hearing and singing about it for the last 3 Sundays! And it concludes next Sunday. If you have a bible or your bible app, turn with me to John 6.
Just a quick chapter survey:
we began the first Sunday of August after the feeding of the 5000 - the punch line that Sunday was [Jhn 6:35 NASB] 35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
Last Sunday we read of the further discourse Jesus had with the Pharisees that ended with another punchline:
[Jhn 6:51 NASB] 51 "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."
Now Jesus becomes even more provocative. as they ask the following question, which didn't make it into our readings...
Jn 6:52... Then the Jews [began] to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us [His] flesh to eat?"
Now look at this morning's reading...
1. ...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you
2. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life
3. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them
Do you sense an echo in the room?
Eat my flesh and drink my blood! Say it couple times...
Eat my flesh and drink my blood!
Eat my flesh and drink my blood!
A little weird, huh? That's what they thought too. A hard saying! Is he talking about cannibalism? Is he talking about things that are forbidden to us as Jews? I'm outta here!
And next week Jesus will ask the disciples, the twelve, if they're going to leave as well!!
But here's the key. Almost a throw away line in the chapter...
It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Jesus corrects their perception that He is talking physically about flesh and blood. He is not.
Jesus was later -- another 6 chapters later, at table with the disciples in the upper room and this becomes crystal clear
as He says, THIS IS MY BODY... THIS IS MY BLOOD and identifies the bread and wine of the Eucharist as the meal of both remembrance and empowerment in His Spirit.
In our prayers we give thanks for this meal, calling a MEANS OF GRACE!
For those new to Sacramental Worship, we believe that something real happens here as we receive the bread and wine from the Table of the Lord - there is a real engagement in our hearts and by His Spirit, present to us, we are transformed on the inside because of the connection with the life-giving bread of God, Jesus himself.
This morning as you take the communion, approach with a holy awe. Know that God is here to meet you! Know that this is not merely bread and wine, but it is the place of meeting - a modern day Tent of Meeting - where we are invited to partake again of the flesh and the blood of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
So we invite you - the Lord Himself invites you to come - come and see, come and taste that the Lord is good! Come and remember... come and partake... come and be empowered ... healed ... equipped. Be being filled! This is a spiritual transaction, but God is gracious in that He knows we are dust, and we need physical reminders, physical signs, places where heaven actually touches earth! This is one. In fact, I think this is the main one!
Pray with me...
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the true bread come down from heaven. Flesh and blood, broken and poured out for the life of the world. Give us this day your very self in these elements of bread and wine. Help us to be "being filled" by your Spirit as we receive today. Help us never ever forget: In Jesus Name and for His sake and the sake of His Kingdom,