August 14, 2015

The One Who Feeds On Me Will Live (have spiritual life) - Proper 20

The Gospel of John Readings assigned for Propers 18-20 – four weeks of teaching, all cover the same central idea of Jesus as ‘the bread of life’. This is probably the most important – and hardest teaching of Jesus to understand. It is a summing up of the New Covenant of Jesus all the way from the Hebrews experience under Moses to the Pentecost experience of the first Christians. The subject is how to have a personal spiritual life that will last forever, including after our physical bodies die.

 1. Jesus explains He is like the mana that came from heaven
This is another example of using a visible and physical thing to explain an invisible and spiritual thing. The Bible teaches us that when the Hebrew people wandered in the desert for 40 years God provided a strange, powdery / flakey substance that formed on the ground in the morning and had to be gathered and eaten each day.

  • This was a test of trust, faith and obedience.
  • The people had to depend on God every day for physical life
  • Everyone had a daily, personal experience of God acting
  • Result was teambuilding – God formed them into a Nation
  • They were connected to God emotionally through faith
  • Jesus is using mana to explain how belief and dependence on His sacrificial death for the sins of all people, created a new way for spiritual cleansing and leads to eternal spiritual life
  • The ‘coming down from heaven’ is critical – an ordinary man could not die for the sins of another – impure offering
2. Jesus warned His followers “you have no life in you” (6.53)

  • People always eventually rebelled against God, became spiritually polluted and could not develop a holy spiritual life
  • Bad news is that when someone dies they may not have a personal, holy spiritual life that can survive in the divine presence – they are sadly just dead



3. “Whoever eats this bread will live forever...” (6.51)
Jesus is building on His teaching (6.47) that “...whoever believes in Me has eternal life”. More specifically who believes that Jesus could and did die for the sins of the whole world –  i.e.:

  • Belief in the divinity of Jesus – could pay for the sins of all
  • Belief in the Resurrection – God raised Him as a sign for us
  • Belief – and practice of repenting, confessing and taking our sins to the Cross of Jesus and asking for forgiveness
  • Forgiveness removes our spiritual pollution, creates a holy place for the Holy Spirit in us and brings our spirit to life
  • Holy Spirit guides our spiritual life, convicts us and heals us
  • Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus – live spiritually in-Christ
  • Apostle Paul reminds us to feed on Jesus through experiences of the Holy Spirit – giving thanks, singing praise
4. Jesus is explaining the Covenant of Holy Communion
He is obviously pointing to the Last Supper and what liturgical churches call the “sacrament” of Holy Communion (Eucharist or The Celebration). The Roman Catholic Church – which is the root church of Christianity has historically defined who was a Christian by who was present at Mass and received the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.
·         Service includes Bible Readings, Teaching, a Creed and prayers over bread and wine which summarize what Jesus does for believers – who say “Amen” to affirm their belief.
·         Bread and wine are offered to God who is asked to send the Holy Spirit to be present in the bread and wine
·         Parallels ancient religious practice of offering food and wine to a pagan god and assuming it has become part of that god
·         The bread and wine was then consumed by worshipers who assumed the god is now living spiritually in them

Receiving Holy Communion is how Christians can feed on or be nourished by Jesus – so they can live in Him, and He in them!

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