Going Deeper 08.20.2021

The Gospel reading for Pentecost 13... John 6:56-69

"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.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Our Gospel readings from John 6 have had a lot to say about "bread."  It began with the story of Jesus taking five barley loaves of bread and feeding over 5000 people in a wilderness setting, with 12 baskets of leftovers.  As he did with other miracles, John described this as being a "sign."  There was more to the event than met the eye.

A bit later we are told that crowds then followed Jesus to another location, and Jesus chides them for following in order to get another free meal.  "You are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill."  He then goes on to instruct them: "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."  

Along the way there is a reference to the "bread from heaven" known as manna, an important part of Israel's historical memory.  This was the bread God provided for the people during their wilderness wanderings between Egypt and the Promised Land.  Jesus then equates Himself with the bread from heaven, and even states that "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them." 

There is much more going on here-- and much more meaning to seek out-- than we have time for in this short devotional.  Suffice us to say that Jesus is the most important gift we can ever receive, the "Living Word" who comes to us through the written word, through the water and the word of Baptism, and in, with, and under the bread of the Sacrament.  This is life-giving and life-sustaining bread.  With this Bread from Heaven, we are gifted with life eternal and sustenance for our journey through the wilderness of life.

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"