You Are What You Eat
Bread. Simple bread. I consider the very first person who ever mixed flour and yeast and baked it off to golden perfection to be among the greatest minds of the human race! Is there anything better than a loaf of fresh baked, warm bread? Biscuits, rolls... a little butter (and maybe a little Golden Eagle syrup)... it’s so good!
Of course, bread’s not only good... it not only tastes good... it’s life giving. It’s foundational sustenance. In the not too distant past, bread was the most important staple of practically everyone’s diet. And in parts of our world, it still is... Without bread, you’d die...
So when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” he was saying a lot!
Back at the beginning of John chapter 6... Jesus fed 5,000+ people with a few loaves and fish. I am sure there were people who’d watched that miracle take place... listening to Jesus a little later... when he spoke the words of today’s lesson - “I am the bread of life.” And I’m sure they thought, “Of course he’s the bread of life. He fed us with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and if he can that, he can certainly feed us every day and we will never be hungry again!”
But Jesus was talking about more than food for the stomach. He told them, “Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and they died... but those who believe in me have eternal life.” Jesus was not talking about a constant supply of sour-dough, or wheat, or Sister Schuberts! Jesus was talking about eternal life.
Of course, people still misunderstand. They come to Jesus, or to Christ’s church, thinking about having their physical needs met... nothing more. And before we’re too critical of others, let’s admit now, that we’ve all done it... we’ve all, at some point, asked “what’s in it for me?” That church, that class, that preacher just doesn’t meet my needs!
And it’s true... Jesus does care about our physical well-being... just as he cared for, and had compassion on, the 5,000+ hungry people when he multiplied the loaves...
But Jesus is so much more than that! He’s the Way, the Truth and the Live... He’s the Resurrection and the Life... Jesus is the Bread of Life that feeds our souls and gives us eternal life.
Physical bread may fill our stomachs, and give us strength, in this life. But Jesus nourishes our souls. Without bread our bodies will die and without Jesus our souls will die.
Of course, many people back then couldn’t accept Jesus. You can hear them now, “Who does this guy think he is... it’s just Jesus... you know, that boy from down the street... we know his parents, we know where he came from! He puts his pants on one leg at time, just like us.”
And many people say the same kinda things today! Jesus, if he ever really lived, was just a teacher, a rabbi... a preacher... a moralist.
Too many Christians see Jesus as a quaint, meek and mild spiritual guru... to be admired, and somewhat emulated (not too much now, you wouldn’t wanta be called a radical bible thumper). But to actually follow Christ as Lord; to see Jesus as our Redeemer... now that’s another story!
Jesus said, “it’s the will of the Father that all who look to the Son and believe in him, will have eternal life.” To know that side of Jesus... you have to be willing to embrace more than the “black-n-white” teachings of first century rabbi. We have to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior.
It’s a truth that’s echoed in the Old Testament... Isaiah 29:13, God told the prophet Isaiah, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” The heart, of course, representing the true, inner self, the part of you that only you and God know.
God told the prophet Ezekiel (3:1-4), “‘Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: ‘Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them...’” To ingest the word of God imply’s more than simply studying the word... By telling Ezekiel to “eat the scroll” God’s figuratively telling us that Ezekiel was to make God’s Word part of himself...
That’s what Holy Communion tries to embrace. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever; And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
When he instituted Communion at the Last Supper Jesus said, “This is my body, given for you.” And through the actions and symbols of the communion service we’re not only reminded of Jesus death for us, but we participate in a kind of drama and re-enactment in the breaking of the bread. And then we take that bread into ourselves, accepting it as a part of us.
I suppose we could say, “You are what you eat.” Physically & spiritually... In the same way that we take the bread into out bodies we must accept Jesus into our hearts to be fed by him.
If Jesus’ teachings were all that mattered then we would come here and just hear a preacher every Sunday... But just hearing and heeding Jesus' moral teachings is not enough. We must accept Jesus as part of us.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” and “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
You can study the life of Gandhi and become a good Hindu. You can study the life of the Buddha and become a good Buddhist. You can study the words of... whomever and become as knowledgeable and learned as you can possibly be!
But unless Christ becomes part of you... Unless he fills your heart and your soul with himself... you can’t be a follower of Christ.
“You are what you eat.”