Tenth Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 216

10th Sunday after Trinity

Holy Communion 10am CW

12th August 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

You can tell a lot about people – by the way they eat their sandwiches

 

Once it’s been cut into manageable halves and quarters –

 

There are those that go straight for the filling – where it is plentiful and thickest – and leave the crust – till the end as a sort of penance –

 

This is the sort of person who deals with things head on – and without delay –

Our Granddaughter – Emily is one of these – especially when the sandwhich is full of chocolate spread – and often the crust gets left for the ducks

Then there are those that nibble at the crusts first – getting rid of the least tasty bits – leaving the centre till last –

 

This type of person – tends to work their way around a problem – looking at it from different angles  – taking their time – trying the best way to approach things –

 

How we approach the issues of life can be different form one person to the next –

 

But when it comes to receiving eternal life – there can only be one way forward –

 

Point 1        What is this food?

 

The people that Jesus preached to – wanted to look at things from all angles – and they were struggling to understand Him – They weren’t happy with the way Jesus was describing Himself

 

‘I am the living bread – that came down from heaven – whosoever eats of this bread – will live forever’

 

‘And the bread that I will give –  for the life of the world –  is my flesh’

The day before they had eaten the loaves and the fish – and witnessed Jesus’ miracle of feeding all those people –

 

But they were still not convinced who He was – And now He was calling Himself – ‘The Living Bread’  –  and claiming that only those who eat His flesh will receive eternal life –

 

‘is this not the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? – How can He say ‘I have come down from heaven?’

 

They were grumbling just like the Israelites did in the wilderness –

 

Accepting Jesus’ moral reaching sans self-denying attitude was one thing – but believing that He is effectively food from God – is quite another –

 

But Jesus tells them He is not talking about bread – like manna that the Israelites received in the wilderness – that too was sent by God – but it only had a short term purpose – the bread that Jesus now brings – has eternal benefits –

 

‘No one can come to me – unless drawn by the father who sent me – and I will raise him up on the last day’

 

Without God’s grace we are spiritually dead – we have no power to give ourselves life – we are all invited  –  but only those who are drawn to Jesus by God – and willing to recognize God’s uniquwe revelation  in Jesus can truly taste the bread form heaven –

 

‘In very truth I tell you – whoever believes (in Jesus) has eternal life’

 

Eternal life is a quality of life – offered to us by Jesus  –  that begins in the present – when we believe in Him – and continues in the future beyond death – in the form of a resurrected life – pioneered by Jesus Himself –

 

If we want to profit from what Jesus is doing –  we must consume all that He is – and all that He brings – Jesus was broken and shared  – in His death – so that those who eat  – will never die –

 

Point 2        Elijah – How we get it?

 

But there will be times –  as our OT reading  – reminds us – when we will need Jesus’ bread more than most –

 

Having just experienced one of the high spots in His ministry – when the prophets of Baal – were humiliated on Mount Carmel – Elijah now flees into the desert – to escape the clutches of Queen

Jezebel

 

And after a day’s journey into the wilderness he finds himself under a broom tree – feeling lost – even to the point of despair –

 

Yet even in these circumstances – when God appears distant – He is actually surprisingly close – sharing our sorrows – and guiding us through them –

 

Elijah prats for a solution to his problems – and God answers in the form of an angel or helper who brings rest and nourishment – not once but twice –

 

The Christian faith is like a long journey – at time exciting and rewarding – and sometimes wearing and discouraging – it is important that we stop at an oasis – on the way and take the rest and food God provides – to take stock – and recharge our batteries –

 

When things go according to plan – it’s easy to trust and live in God’s kingdom – but when things go wrong – and our faith is really tested – that’s when God makes sure we are cared for –

 

And it’s often – these times when we are most tested – that we are most ready to receive and be nourished by Him –

 

God’s food comes to us through prayer – through other Christians – through our knowledge of Jesus’ life and word (in our bibles) – through the Holy Spirit who is there to guide and direct us – and through our own experience of Jesus who is with us – transforming our lives today –

 

Point 3        Ephesians – What does it do for us?

 

A twelve year old boy –  went to church with his parents and after a few visits made a decision to become a Christian – The next week at school his friends questioned him about it –

 

Did you see a vision? – Asked one of his friends –

Did you hear God speak? – Asked another

The youngster answered ‘no’ to all these questions – well how did you know you were saved? – they asked –

 

The boy searched for an answer  –  and finally he said – ‘Its like when you catch a fish –  you can’t see it or hear the fish in the water – you just feel him tugging on the line – I just felt God tugging on my heart –

 

And as Paul reminds us in our NT lesson – whilst only God – can change our hearts – it’s our responsibility to change our behavior –

 

In this passage – Paul describes what should happen to us – after we eat the food Jesus brings

 

It should be a case of – out with the old – and in with the new – and not just in terms of inward transformation – but also an outward change – a bit like putting on new clothes –

 

Most of us have a choice as to what we wear –  and often what we wear reflects the person that we want to be  –

 

On some weekdays – when I am at work –  I often wear a suit and tie – telling the world  that on these days I expect to earn my daily crust –

 

On other days and Saturdays – I might dress more casually – in a tee shirt – and hopefully the demands of work never enter my head –

 

On Sundays we put on some different clothes again – to present an image of our willingness to worship and go to church –

 

Just as clothes are put on daily and by decision – so too is our behavior – and like the clothes we wear our behavior also tells others what’s going on inside-

 

Paul encourages us to become imitators of God –

 

We can choose to lie or to speak the truth –  live for ourselves at the expense of others – or put ourselves out in the service of others –such things will be noticed and present an image of who we are and who we belong to –

 

A new nature will show itself in a new behavior – but the reverse is also true –  the way we behave can also shape the person we become –

Paul highlights the importance of speaking the truth – quoting a verse from Zechariah – we must out away anger  – the consequences of a moment of madness can be far reaching – bitterness robs life of its joys and beauty  –  we must bring them all openly before God –

 

The way to becoming a loving person  – is to do loving things – Paul reminds us that Jesus’ death on the cross should influence all we do – our conduct should be the same as Jesus presented to us – an offering of sacrifice and love and well pleasing to God –

 

We are destined for full redemption – for resurrection – and knowing this should determine the way we live our lives today-

 

Conclusions

 

Jesus offers us food from God – that will shape and transform our lives- Food for the good times and bad – that we can only get form Him – and will bring us everlasting benefits –

 

Eating the bread that He provides will not only transform our inward nature –  but also shape the way we behave in the world today-

 

Jesus is the bread that comes from heaven and leads to heaven – and those who have eternal life – are the ones who continue to feed on Him – and put their trust in Him –

 

So let’s not nibble round the edges – lets choose to eat Jesus’ bread today –and whichever way we consume it – let’s make sure that Jesus knows just how eternally grateful we are to Him – for providing it –

 

Prayer to finish

 

AMEN