Have you ever had an epic meal… like a meal that satisfied beyond anything you could imagine? I don’t necessarily remember a lot of meals in my life. I guess I just don’t think of life in terms of food, although I really enjoy a good meal. But I do remember one meal that was truly epic.
I was a week past my due date with my oldest child. I had been sick through most of the pregnancy and was barely able to eat for most of the time. Well in the last few days, I had an insatiable appetite. I remember being so hungry and we were going out to dinner with some friends to celebrate a friend’s birthday We went to a hibachi grill… and at a hibachi grill, they give you a lot of food.
I remember being amazed because I ate all of my food, most of my husbands, dessert and I was still hungry afterwards. It was epic! It was one of the best meals I’ve had. I don’t think it was because the food was so good, but because it was so satisfying to finally be able to eat without feeling sick, to be out to dinner with friends and not be miserable, to know that our lives were soon going to change and I finally had peace with my body. It was a meal to remember.
Today’s scripture starts just after an epic meal… a meal to remember. This is a complicated scripture… It has a lot in it, a lot to unpack. It actually begins before today’s reading. It begins with the feeding of the five thousand. So there is this whole episode where Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. And he takes the food, what was really the lunch for one boy and he feeds five thousand people. What is interesting is that this story today picks up with the crowd searching for Jesus and they want more. They want more bread.
So this is kind of funny… but I think we are all like that we always want more.
But Jesus challenges them and they begin to talk about the manna from heaven. So this is where scripture really comes alive and I just appreciate the connectedness of scripture. So Jesus is having this conversation about bread. Bread is an essential part of Israel’s relationship with God. If you remember that when Israel was coming out of Egypt they got hungry. They had just seen many miracles, one of which we will talk about in a minute, but many miracles, they were delivered out of Israel and they immediately started to complain because they were hungry.
So God, being patient and loving sent down bread from heaven… every day… for 40 years. God sent them bread from heaven so they would have food to eat. Just enough to sustain them all, every day.
It was the bread of life.
So Jesus looks at them, the crowd is asking for more bread… kind of like the Israelites in the wilderness and Jesus looks at them and says, I am the bread of life. Quit looking for food for your bodies, and start looking for food for your souls.
Everyone gets really uptight about this because Jesus gets a little graphic. This is one of those moments where Jesus is getting irritated with the disciples and the followers. So he goes on to say, you must eat my body and drink my blood if you want to have eternal life. Basically, you must consume me. I am the life that has come down from heaven, like the manna that was sent before me, only I don’t give physical life, I am offering spiritual life.
They were talking about their bodies, but Jesus was talking about their souls. Their vision was too small.
Their vision was too small. They wanted to talk about their physical needs, and Jesus was talking about their souls.
What about us? How is your vision? Last fall I was taking a shower and my two year old (then one year old) grabbed my glasses off the bathroom counter and broke them in half. I couldn’t see more than a couple of feet in front of my face. I had to tape my glasses together enough to get to the eye doctor, I had to have an examine because no one would make me glasses from my old prescription because it had been too long since I had my eyes checked. I sat through the exam with a panicky 18month old on my lap and then had to go to the glasses store that could make the glasses in one hour. I need my glasses to have vision, real vision.
And the funny thing is, I can’t do a whole lot without it. Now this is not to say that those who are visually impaired don’t have vision, they just experience physical vision in different ways. But I realized that I need vision.
Jesus knew that his followers where going to need vision, too. We need vision. We need vision to see the big picture, to see off in the distance, to accept that things are not always what they appear. Jesus was giving them a vision of what was to come by using the example of something they knew intimately… God provides. But the vision was to see past the physical provision to the spiritual one.
In this example, Jesus first reminded them of God’s provision in the immediate past… the day before God had fed five thousand people. Sometimes we need a little more perspective, it’s hard to recognize what God is doing here and now in our lives and see his miracles. To see how God is providing right now. Let’s do a little vision check.
But let’s take a moment to notice it. It’s easy to be wrapped up in the size of the savings account, the growth of the 401K. But what about the very basics. Look at the country we live in. Consider the roof over your heads. The clothes on your back. The food, no matter how little or much, in your pantry. Consider the miracle of today.
I want you to turn to a neighbor and share how God is providing for you today.
Pause to share
The followers were not able to see the miracle of that day, it was a little too close, they didn’t have perspective. So then he had them consider the miracles of the ages. The big ways God has provided for them, the miracles that had become so big they were engrained in their culture, their history.
Now take a moment and consider how God has provided for your people, for the church, your nation over time. God has been faithful to Little Prairie. Today I am offering an invitation. For people interested in considering the vision for this church, this faith community, please join me after the service to seea bout getting together to begin this conversation.
So often we miss the vision in God’s provision.
But our vision needs to be bigger than our physical needs. God’s vision is for our eternal well being. The vision in God’s provision.
Jesus is asking his followers to have a vision for their souls. That Jesus came to give them life… to be the bread of life. Jesus is asking his followers to consume him… all of him. His life, his teaching, his example, his love, his care, his protection, his vision.
When we read this passage, it should remind us of when Jesus later repeats these words. I am the bread of life, eat of my flesh, drink of my blood and you will have eternal life. This bread is my body, eat in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, for as often as you eat of this bread and drink of this cup you do proclaim the lords death until he returns.
Our vision needs to be bigger… it needs to look to our spiritual selves. We must be consuming Jesus, at every opportunity. To study, to engage, to pray, to read, to worship, to sing, to bow down, to serve, to follow. Consuming Jesus. Today we celebrate this act of communion as remembrance of God’s promise to Israel during the Passover, as God’s promise to Israel when they wandered in the wilderness, as God’s promise through Jesus, the bread of life. This is an epic meal… a meal to remember… Before we serve communion today, I want to offer you the opportunity to do a little vision check. To test your vision… to center your spiritual self and consume this moment with Jesus.
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