Sermon Pentecost 10 year B
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Creator, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Isn’t it frustrating when you ask someone a question and they answer a different question? Don’t you hate that? Politicians do it all the time. You hope to hear a debate about the issues. But they don’t answer the questions the moderator asks. They just give you their talking points. They tell you what they want to tell you. Today’s gospel is a little like that.
But when it’s Jesus and not a politician, maybe we are the ones not asking the right questions.
Today’s gospel sounds like another story about bread. But it isn’t really about the bread. The story is about Jesus. John the Evangelist continues with the right question, “Just who is Jesus, anyway?”
In a continuation from last weeks gospel, the crowd is still following Jesus. They have seen him heal the sick. They watched as he prayed and fed 5000 of them from one little boy’s lunch. They want to make him their king. But he slipped away from them. They aren’t sure how he did it, but the disciples’ boat is gone so they head across the lake too.
They find him across the lake and here is where the questions start. But Jesus doesn’t give them direct answers.
First the crowd wants to know when Jesus crossed the lake. He doesn’t tell them he walked over last night after dark. No, Jesus tells them why they are looking for him. And it turns out they are looking for more bread, more miracles. They came for the free food and the show. He tells them to work of the food that endures for eternal life.
Next they try for a follow-up question. They ask Jesus to please clarify what he just said about the works of God. Once again, Jesus doesn’t answer the way they want. He tells them that the work of God isn’t work. It’s believing. It’s believing in the One God sent.
So they decide to ask for another miracle. “What sign are you going to give us, so that we may believe in you?” They want bread again and they want it every day, just like the manna in the wilderness. Jesus comes back with a proclamation about God, whom he calls “my Father” and bread that gives life.
Instead of another question, this time the crowd has a demand: “Give us this bread, always.” Jesus answers, “I am the bread of life.”
Jesus keeps trying to tell them that they are missing the point. It only sounds like it is about the bread. It is really about Jesus. It isn’t about having a full stomach. It isn’t about a free lunch. It isn’t about seeing a good show. It is really about Jesus.
Sometimes when the answers we get from God don’t seem to make sense, maybe we are asking the wrong questions. We have all been known to do that. We have all gotten our priorities mixed up. We have all made the wrong choices.
It is easy to see how the crowd became passionately focused on the bread. We all like food. We look for good recipes. We recommend restaurants to each other. We even have a TV channel called the Food Network. We can be passionate about food.
Jesus was trying to tell the crowd to be passionate about their faith and to trust in God. He was trying to get them to care much more about matters of faith than we might care about a really good piece of pie.
To be passionate about our faith, we need to make Jesus our first priority, the most important one in our lives. That may mean we have make some changes and some different choices. Think about your priorities this week.
Jesus was also telling the crowd to put their trust in God. When we understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life, we trust him. Sometimes trust means you have to wait and put the needs of others first. Sometimes it means you have to act with courage, knowing Jesus is with you.
Preacher Keith Wagner tells a story that helps illustrate this:
Far away in a lonely desert stands a water pump in the sand. You are a solitary traveler, and your canteen is empty and you come upon that pump. Tied to it is a hand written sign put there by some pilgrim. The sign reads; “I have buried a bottle of water to prime the pump. Don’t drink any of it. Pour in half of it to wet the leather. Wait, and then pour in the rest. Then pump. The well has never gone dry, but the pump must be primed to bring the water up. Have faith, believe. When you are through drawing water, fill the bottle and bury it in the sand for the next traveler.”
Having come upon this pump in the desert with this sign and being out of water, what would you do? Would you dig the water bottle from the sand and drink from it, or will you believe and dare to trust and pour that water into the rusty pump? When you trust, you take a risk, both for yourself and for the next person who will pass that way.
Who is Jesus, anyway? That is the right question today. Jesus tells us he is the Bread of Life. He tells us to believe in him, to have faith. He wants to be the highest priority in our lives. Jesus tells us to trust in him, to know that he is always with us.
Jesus is God’s own self, come down from heaven. He has given his life for us. Whoever believes will never be hungry or thirsty. Whoever believes will have eternal life. Thanks be to God. Amen.