Pentecost 12 B 2021 “Love, Forgiveness, and Food”
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A few years ago, a national survey was taken by the Barna Group, and there was one single question on the survey. The question was: “What is the phrase you most long to hear?” The results were not surprising.
The number one phrase was “I love you.” In a solid second place was the phrase “I forgive you.” And the third most longed for phrase was “Dinner is ready.” I find it interesting that these three answers articulate the deepest longings and needs of every human being.
Well, the Jesus that we meet this morning in today’s Gospel understood these three deepest longings that exist in peoples’ lives. Jesus, the Son of God, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, understood well the deep longing we have for love, forgiveness, and food.
And so, it is no coincidence that we hear in the 6th chapter of John that Jesus addressed these three areas of human need. For example, today Jesus informs the crowd “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.”
And how does the crowd respond? The crowd responded by becoming testy. After hearing Jesus state over and over again that He is the bread of life, the crowd grew impatient and frustrated as they were unable to understand what Jesus was teaching them.
The people in the crowd wanted something more concrete and easier to understand. And so, they disputed among themselves, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” What is He talking about? Jesus, please do not just give us a metaphor, give us something plain and simple that we can understand.
But Jesus did not budge an inch. He responded by again hammering home the point He had been making throughout the sixth chapter.
He 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.” And then He said: “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”
I do not think that we fully understand how mind shattering and gross Christ’s Words were to the people at the time. After all, what Christ was saying, eating a person’s flesh and drinking a person’s blood, was regarded as sinful and disgraceful by the law and the prophets.
To the people back then it did not make sense. And it would not make sense to us either if we did not know the rest of the story. For you see, even though there is no last Supper in John’s Gospel, our reading today is all about Holy Communion.
The Gospel of John makes it clear that the One who became incarnate and took on human flesh was born to be nailed to a cross for our sake. And His blood was meant to flow freely from His wounded hands and feet. And He was born to die for you and for me. And after three days rise again. And this was all done for you and for me for our salvation.
John’s Gospel teaches us “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Yes. Jesus truly knows and understands our deepest longings and needs. Jesus knows that we long to be loved, and forgiven, and fed physically and spiritually.
Unfortunately, we could not do this by ourselves. We needed a Savior, someone sent by God who could feed us with food that would last forever. Jesus said “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.”
And again “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” For Jesus, eating is believing; and drinking is believing. And Jesus promises eternal life to all who believe in Him.
Therefore, it is indeed right and proper that we give thanks to God for the salvation God has prepared for us through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
For every time we are invited to come to the Lord’s Table, we hear Jesus say: “I love you. You are forgiven. Dinner is ready. Come, feast on me and participate in the banquet of love meant for all people for the forgiveness of sin.” And to that we all should joyfully shout out Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
Let us pray: Ever loving God, your Son, Jesus Christ, gave Himself as living bread for the life of the world. Give us such a knowledge of His presence that we may be strengthened and sustained by His Risen Life to serve you always. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.