Being Fed God by God

Being Fed God by God

Grace, mercy and peace be unto
you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Sisters
and brothers in Christ, the text from this morning comes from that Gospel

In the twelfth century, an
Islamic scholar said this about us, or we, as Christians. He said, “They
are the most malicious, despicable and blasphemous people on earth because they
show their God honor by eating their God. And not only do they do such things,
but they teach it in their schools and they preach it from their pulpits.”

Hmmm. And we say, “You know?
He’s right!”
Now not the blasphemous, malicious, despicable part, but the
part about where he says, “They honor their God by eating their God.” He
gets it! This Islamic scholar, this pagan, gets what the text is talking about
this morning. That’s crazy!

But you know what else is really
unusual? Christ will not tolerate himself to be received or acknowledged in
any other way than how he has presented himself to us in bread and wine. For
us to acknowledge or to teach or honor him in another way that seems right to
us and not this way, and not with these truths, dishonors his name and we deny
the name that we bear as God’s children.

Now in this world though, there
are many sincere and well-meaning Christians who wish to discuss this truth
with us and say, “It’s not really that way, the way that you’re implying,
the way that you’re talking about it. It’s not quite that way, it’s
different. It’s metaphor, it’s symbolism, it’s memorializing, it’s
representation. It is not literal flesh and blood with bread and wine. It
can’t be.”

You know that kind of talk began
in the Garden, didn’t it? When Satan said, “Did God really say ‘Thus’ and
‘So?’ Did God really mean what he said when he said, ‘Such’ and ‘Thus?’ Or
did he mean something else?”

When Jesus proclaimed this
clearly, “the Jews grumbled,” the text says. They grumbled about
him because they couldn’t grab hold of – crazy enough – not the point that he’s
going to offer his flesh to be eaten and drank, they struggled with the fact
that how come this guy named Jesus talks about himself coming from heaven as
the bread of life? We know his dad and his mom, we’ve seen him grow up in this
town. It can’t be!

And here’s the mystery for you
and me: Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are sincere and
well-meaning have no trouble believing and confessing that God became man in
Christ Jesus, something that I would think would be very phenomenal to
proclaim. But something that should be just as likeable and acceptable of God
becoming flesh in Jesus Christ, is God who became flesh in Jesus Christ
offering himself in bread and wine. But these sincere and well-meaning
Christians do not. They say, “No, no, no. He did not really mean that when
he said that.”
And they grumble among themselves and they tempt us and
others to grumble as well, that this can’t be true. That God cannot be found
in mere bread and wine. God can’t be found in bread and wine and yet, God can
be found in flesh and blood? In Jesus?

There are many hearers of the
Word of God, but few doers. Many hear these words, but they do not do what
these words are proclaiming. What must we do to hear the words that God is proclaiming
to us?

That was said last week,
remember? The Jews asked Jesus, “Jesus, tell us what we must do to do the
works of God?”

Jesus said, “To do the
works of God is this, to believe. To believe on the One whom he has sent.”
is really saying the same thing here. “Believe what I am saying to you,
brothers and sisters,”
this is Jesus speaking. “Believe that I can come
to you in bread and wine and give you my flesh and blood. Believe, receive it,
do it in belief and faith.”
That’s a doer of the Word of God.

Listen again to the words of
promises of God from the text. In verse 35 when he first says, “I am the
bread of life.”
If he was speaking in metaphor, then the word “life”
would also have a metaphorical meaning and “life” would not really be life, it
would be something other than life. What is the life that he is the bread of?
Eternal life! The only life that matters, true life, the life that this world does
not have, the life that you have been given, you who have eaten and drank the
very life from the bread of heaven. Because, “Whoever he comes to me”,
he says, “shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”.
And it’s very clear that he’s not talking about something to merely satiate
and supply something for this life, and this life only. Because you and I had
breakfast but we’re going to have lunch here in a little while because the food
that we eat does not last. The food he gives us, the food he offers us, does
because it’s him, who is the bread from heaven. The bread of life, God in the

And then some wonderfully
comforting words. Jump down to verse 39: “This is the will of him who
sent me, that I should lose nothing of old that he has given me, but raise it
up on the last day. And this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks
on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him
up on the last day.”

Being a Christian in this world
is very difficult. The practice of faith is a difficult art. We are
continually besieged from without and sadly from within. To doubt, to
skepticize, to question and to not be doers of the word, that believe what God
has said. But the word that he is saying to you and to me is to be believed.
He is saying, “I’m not going to lose you. And the matter and means that I
wish to keep you close to me is through your faith in my word. And where does
my word become very concrete and not an abstract proclamation? My word becomes
very concrete and not abstract at that place, at that rail when you eat the
bread and drink the wine which is the bread from heaven, God himself, Christ.”
That’s how he sustains us.

Now you remember, the Jews
argued: “We know about such bread from heaven. Our forefathers were fed
bread from heaven and that manna. You remember, O Jesus, that in the
Scriptures it was said that they were fed from manna from heaven and they
survived and were fed such throughout their days of pilgrimage.”
Who had to
gather it? What were the rules according to it? Because it would rot if they
gathered too much. And what was its purpose given? Merely to satiate their
bellies, not their souls. And yet, Jesus said, “This bread that came down
from heaven a man may eat and never die for this is the bread of life and that
is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world.”
And that’s how he
draws you, that’s how he feeds you. That’s how he sustains you with himself.

In this world, in this generation
of abstraction, there’s a great deal of clamoring around encountering God, coming
into contact with God, being joined to God. And the validity for such proclamations?
What you experience in your heart or mind. That is the wrong place to be led for
comfort and assurance, to the experiences of your heart and your mind. For you
know about your and my experiences. You know they have led us to make some very
regretful choices throughout our lives, haven’t they? Such experiences and
knowledge. We have been led and have led ourselves down the paths to sin,
following such experiences and knowledge, thinking it to be the right thing,
thinking it to be the just thing.

He gives you something that you
don’t have to have an experience, but believe. “Be doers of the word” and
believe and receive him who comes to you through such seemingly unpraiseworthy
means of mere bread and wine. There you encounter God. There you are joined
to God. There you become one with God, for you eat God and you are fed by the
same God whom you eat. Christ, himself the victim, himself the Priest, as we
sing in our hymns.

Only humble, helpless, hapless
and hungry Christians receive the food, the bread of life, and are doers of
such words. So come, you who are hungry, and be filled. You who are helpless,
be helped. You who are hapless, be made strong and stand. And you who are
hopeless, be given hope that there’s fruit unto eternal life, knowing by faith
that you are given God, the very Passover Lamb sacrificed for you. Whose blood
marks your door, that faith points to it and death passes over and he is our
eat and drink indeed. Jesus. Amen.