Dinner and a Show – Vicar Ed Shoesmith
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
Jesus the Bread of Life
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[a]”
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Message by Vicar Ed Shoesmith.
The people just keep on coming after Jesus don’t, they? It’s like an annoying mosquito. Jesus has just fed the 5,000, walked on water and is now not where the crowd expected him to be. He is on the other side of the sea. The people are chasing him, and do you blame them? I mean seriously Jesus has just multiplied bread and fish and fed them and they want more! And to get more we need to go get the man who dispenses the goods. However, when they wake up Jesus is gone! The food dispenser has left the building and the crowd want to find him. Now we could say “but isn’t that a good thing”? Like, what is the problem with searching for Jesus? All the Christian books tell me to do that. These people are seeking Jesus, they want to find him. In fact, don’t we want people to go closer to Christ?
But I think this is the catch. From first glance it might seem the crowd has good intentions. Noble intentions, get closer to Jesus to be around him and within his presence. However, the crowds’ motives are mixed and when we dig deeper, they seem a little self-orientated.
John in today’s gospel tells us how Jesus reveals and opens our minds to the desires of the selfish heart.
As Christians we should not be surprised when we read this text. We do not have a good track record for following and seeking out Christ in fact we are quite the opposite. These people are not drawn to Christ because of His teachings but rather they were seeking him because they wanted their bellies filled by the food, he provided them. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that these miracles performed by Jesus were not holy and just. They are, these signs serve as Jesus’ credentials and prove that He is who He claimed to be, that is the Saviour of the world. But Jesus was not there as entertainment, Jesus is not some kind of street performer or crowd pleaser for the physical needs of the people, and this is today’s problem. The way the crowds responded were for their own selfish desires they mis interpreted Jesus’ actions.
But seriously how can we blame the crowd? It happens today, doesn’t it? If you offer free food and entertainment to people they come, it seems to be in our DNA that these things draw a crowd. Free food and entertainment are powerful motives we love it! But considering the crowds view of Jesus as a vending machine, is this who Jesus is? Is Jesus just some kind of entertainment that feeds us? Is this what the bible tells us about Jesus? No, my friends, Jesus is far more than this in fact he is very different.
In and of itself food and entertainment are not bad things sure sometimes they lead us to sin, too much grog, the wrong kind of entertainment and so on. Look around us here today at the abundance of blessings received from God. I mean we can’t say that this pumpkin is on mission to destroy us.
However, when food and entertainment become the motive there can be a problem.
When I lived in Toowoomba Qld, there was a church not far from my local Lutheran congregation. They had it all, they were like the ideal community. They had everything they advertised free food and worship services, with jumping castles and roving panda characters, lights they had a TV screen as wide as this church building, I mean it was intense. But what was the problem here? The mentality and the problem of this kind of thing is the temptation for the church to appeal to the motives of the world, the feeding and entertainment. So just like the crowd in our story today they were drawn to the feeding and entertaining Jesus.
But in the gospel reading we heard today the people are on the hunt for Jesus because the bread has ran out. Sure, Christ could have done some more miracles and made more bread, but he didn’t. What happens? Instead, we read that Christ exposes the crowd’s motives and he doesn’t do it lightly he goes straight for the jugular.
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. (John 6:26)
But let’s be honest we struggle with these very same motives, don’t we? I mean I do.
Week in and week out we hear the gospel, but we want more, I want to come back again and have my belly filled and watch a good show. I am tired of the ordinary I want some extraordinary! Give me something exciting!
But that is it, if you want something exciting read the gospel of John it won’t do you any harm. If you want something exciting, look at the Cross of Christ what more do we require? The day our Lord was crucified as Matt 27:51 and following states
“We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”
That seems pretty extraordinary to me, the earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The darkness, the voice from God.
Do we really need any more signs?
But God knows our weakness and he doesn’t merely fill our bodies with food that is temporary like what we have around us today. Rather Christ fills our bodies with His Body and His Blood which grants us the forgiveness of sins. No food can do this except the Lord’s Supper. Jesus says
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35).
This supper has eternal ramifications. It is not temporary, and it is for you and me.
Jesus is not some kind of vending machine that is merely here for dinner and a show, and he is not trying to “woo” you into his kingdom. Rather you are a baptized child of God, baptized into His Kingdom brought from death to life. Jesus is not some kind of street performer in rundle mall. Rather, my friends he comes to you, he walks up and grants you faith calling us through the gospel into eternal life that’s why we bang on about the gospel every week, we need to hear it, we need to be reminded of it. Jesus does not try to hold our attention by performing in front of us. Rather this easter period reminds us that in Christ he has declared us all of us, righteous, our pain, sorrow, grief and sins are forgiven. And now Baptized saints, Jesus gives us the eternal Word of God to feed our souls. The Word that endures forever. So be confident. You know this, you have been here and heard the gospel proclaimed to you for years. You know Jesus is not some kind of inspirational guru or street entertainer or life coach or whatever. But rather, Jesus is the crucified and resurrected Saviour of the world who gives you certain signs and proof of God’s love for you, which surpasses all worldly understanding.
So, what does this mean for me today? Simply put share this message of hope. The food here is temporary, but Jesus is eternal. Jesus is not a bread machine, but the bread of life. Receive Him; for He sustains you. Jesus is Lord
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
By Vicar Edwin Shoesmith
(1st + 3rd of Month)
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