1st Sunday in Easter – Sermon 7
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
Our two readings have something to say about hunger! – but –What is Hunger ?
We’ve all seen the pictures on our televisions of Famines in Africa – people starving to the point of death
but it doesn’t only mean lack of food!
there are other forms of hunger as well –
people hunger for excitement – for new experiences – for travel – for sport – to be famous –
I don’t know if you saw that new TV show yesterday called "whatever you want" – someone in it was prepared to ride a plastic dolphin just to win the chance of swimming with one!
many of our young people hunger for music – very loud music – while others might just want peace and quiet
We hunger for many things !
Some of our cravings are basic to our very existence
How do we satisfy them?
In our O.T. lesson we are told about the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness – it was about a month since they left Egypt – they had conveniently forgotten about being slaves – but remembered that in Egypt there was always some food to eat – they were focusing on their immediate needs and desires – they wanted bread to eat – and they craved after meat –
in verse 3 it tells us that the fleshpots were clearly in their minds even though as slaves they would not be allowed to eat meat. – They blamed Moses for their predicament
But God listened to them and in the middle of the desert provided them with bread in the form of manna and meat in the form of a flock of Quails. – God had given them their food – their "bread from Heaven" – as a sign that He was with them – and that He was caring for them
In our N.T. lesson John describes the behaviour of another group of people but this time they have just had their stomachs filled.
They had seen Jesus feed 5000 people with five Barley loaves and two fishes – and they wanted more –
They thought they’d found their meal ticket –
but Jesus saw right through them – He rebuked them because they had not understood what God had just done for them –
they’d seen how God’s grace enabled a large crowd to be fed – but instead of focusing on God – they were thinking about their stomachs – they had received bread – as bread and not – as a gift from God
They had not realised that they could have had so much more! God can provide more than physical comforts –
He provides for all our needs – not only food and water – our surroundings and our homes – but spiritual gifts as well –
Paul lists some of them in his letters (1 Corinthians) – such things as , wisdom, knowledge, faith, love, humility, compassion, strength, truth –
God provides the sort of spiritual nourishment that can satisfy our innermost longings and desires –
He provides nourishment of the soul that will bring us true happiness and contentment –
As Jesus describes it in verse 27 – God provides
" The food that lasts – the food of eternal life
But how do we get this food
This food from God is given to us through Jesus Christ – in verse 27 – Jesus said
" This food – the Son of man will give you – for on Him – God the Father has set the seal of His Authority "
In Jesus’ time its not the signature but the seal which authenticates something – Seals were used on documents and objects – they were used by the humblest of people on sacks, pottery, jewelry or metal to verify that the goods were genuine
without the seal the document or object is not validated
Seals are still used today in transport to seal up lorries for example to verify that the goods haven’t been tampered with on journey’s
One of the sayings of the Rabbi’s at the Time of Jesus was " The seal of God is the Truth " –
Jesus is God’s seal – Jesus is God’s truth incarnate – given to satisfy the eternal hunger of God’s people
To see Jesus is to see God – To obey Him is to obey God – to receive Him is to receive God
To receive the gifts that God provides for us we must turn to Jesus – He is the living bread, the real " bread from Heaven" that God provides for us
Jesus is what God has to say to all people – in Jesus we see what God is like – in Jesus we see what me might become –
Through Jesus our hunger for the truth, for life and for love will be satisfied – Only through Jesus will our spiritual longings of the heart and soul be fulfilled – and only through Jesus will our sins be forgiven –
‘God gave us His Son to die upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins so that we can be led back to Him – Jesus’ death on the cross was central to everything He did – by dying he paid for our sins so that we can enjoy a new relationship with God – so that our lives can be transformed
Everything about Jesus is food for us – His life
– His death – and His resurrection to eternal life
But what do we have to do to get it?
Jesus said in verse 40 –
"It is my Father’s will that everyone who sees the Son and has faith in Him should have eternal life
God’s gifts are freely available to all of us if we are prepared to accept them – If we are prepared to – in Jesus’s words –
" listen to God " and be "drawn by Him" – If we are prepared to " believe in the one whom God sent"
only through Jesus can we reach God –
we might think of Jesus as a bridge to God and our lives as a maze – We have to find God’s route in the maze and reach Him by walking with Jesus across His bridge – Jesus – to be part of His family
So when Jesus was asked by the crowd what was the work they had to do – His answer was not a list of do’s and don’ts – or a list of deeds to perform – but "to have faith in the one whom He sent " – to accept all that God is giving us and showing us through Jesus – –
we must form our own personal relationship with God through Jesus – listen and search for what he is telling us – We do this by reading our Bibles – talking to him in praye – the more contact we have the more we will get to know Him –
If we persevere and turn to Jesus – we will be saved – Jesus gives us the assurance that we will not be turned away – in verse 39 – Jesus said
" It is His will that I should not lose even one of those He has given to me, but should raise them up on the last day
Jesus is the Bread of Life – He is essential for our lives – life is not just about physical things – there are many Spiritual Hungers that we need to satisfy – Life is about a new relationship with God – of Trust – friendship – belonging – love – a relationship only made possible through Jesus – Jesus gives life – once we know Him and accept Him and receive Him our human cravings for satisfaction are pushed to the background – our heart and soul are truly at rest – and we will never want to be without Him
So what do we hunger for? Do we focus on earthly things – that keep us comfortable – that satisfy our short term needs and desires – or do we look beyond the materialistic world and focus on the real gifts that God provides – the Gifts that we can receive through our relationship and commitment to God and our faith in Jesus Christ
Being a Christian is not about how we feel, its about what God has done for us –
We must not be like the crowd that Jesus confronted – so wrapped up in our daily lives that we can’t see God at work in the world and the lives of those around us
God should be at the centre of everything we do – God provides for all our needs – He has given us His Son so this might be so – through Jesus we can be saved – through Jesus we can see God and have a new relationship with Him –
and all this is available to us if we are prepared to come to Him and reach out to Him in faith – to make Him part of our lives
Jesus said " I am the Bread of Life …… whoever comes to me will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never be thirsty ………….and the Bread that I give is my own flesh, given for the life of the world.
Prayer to finish
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit