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Fair Food

John 6:35-51

Pastor James F. Wright

Pentecost 11, Proper 14, series B
Immanuel Lutheran Church  
Altamont, IL

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 

"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." John 6:35

One thing we like to do at this time of the year is visit the county fair, and when we are there we like to indulge in fair food. Elephant ears, funnel cakes, lemon shake ups, and deep fried candy bars. Deep fried anything is good. Have you heard of deep fried bacon? It's a new fair treat. Right next to chocolate covered bacon.

We wouldn't eat that food every day. It would kill you in no time. So after the fair is over we will return to a better diet, maybe even including vegetables, if you are over the age of twelve.

More important than eating the right foods is the spiritual diet. We know it's good to eat healthy if you want to live longer than age 40. How much more important it is for us to consume the right things for our soul so that we may live forever? Jesus said he was the bread of life. If we eat of him we will never be hungry. If we believe in him we will never be thirsty.

Yet it remains to be seen if we Christians will consume a regular diet of Jesus. People find out I'm a minister and they say they belong to this or that church. I ask who the pastor is. Many have no idea. That tells me they've been there once or twice to hear the man preach, but it's been so long that they don't know his name. Going to church once in a while is not a healthy spiritual diet. You couldn't survive by eating one meal a month, could you? Your body wouldn't let you. It would die. So it says, "Hey, I'm hungry down here. Put some food in your mouth. Make it lots of fat and some sugar while you're at it. And make it snappy!"

Your soul doesn't do that. Or maybe it does, but you don't listen to it. Instead you cram down lots of work, or T.V., or alcohol, or travel, or entertainment. Your soul is overwhelmed with information and stress. The one thing it needs, to hear from its Creator, you don't give it. And we wonder why we get overwhelmed with grief, meaninglessness, and depression.

While all the time Jesus has been saying to us, "Come to me, you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "I am the bread of life. Eat of me, and you will never go hungry again."

Jesus is the bread of life because he is the one thing we need. All of the other things we think we need, we can live without, at least for a time. Food—you can fast for a time. You won't die. The company of other people—you can have a time of solitude. Sometimes it's even helpful to be alone. Money—it's an illusion to think you will be happy if you have enough of it. Sex—people can go their whole lives as virgins and be content and happy. But a relationship with God is the one thing we can't really live without. We can't find peace, we can't have a lasting purpose, and we can't know who we truly are. And the only way to approach God is through Jesus Christ.

That's an exclusive statement. Here's why. When people want to have a relationship with God and pray to Him, they sometimes forget about the barriers. They've filled themselves with the wrong food. Junk food. We call that sin. Sin is not just wrong choices we've made. Sin is a poison that you are born with and you ingest as you go through life. You can't wish it away; just as if you drink strychnine and say it won't hurt you. You've got to get rid of it, get it out of your body, and take something to counter its fatal effects. If you ignore sin, you will surely die. No one is without it, no one is immune. If you approach the Holy God and try to excuse your sin, you will perish.

Jesus is the answer to our sin. He takes it into himself. He purifies us and makes us clean. He told us this was his mission in the world. He accomplished it for us on the cross. There he drank the poison and died, gave his life so that we could approach the Heavenly Father and live. He said, "This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:40).

Jesus is our bread of life when we receive this gift. Not just once, when we first came to him, but every day, like we eat three meals a day of physical food. Jesus wants us to consume him all of the time. That means remaining connected to him by hearing his word and receiving his love and forgiveness for our sinfulness. Only in this way can we counteract the poison of our own sinful self.

Most of us adults struggle with maintaining our weight. We eat too much. We eat the wrong kinds of food. It's hard. I see a similarity in living as a Christian. It's hard to keep eating Jesus as the bread of life. To come to church. To read his word. To keep on learning about him. We think we're too busy, it's not interesting; we don't know enough, we don't really need it. All of this is the Devil's lie, and we believe him.

Jesus says to us, "I am the bread of life. Whoever believes me has eternal life." Belief is not a snack you eat once in a while. It's daily sustenance. There are treasures there that will fill you and nourish you like nothing else can. And it's all free.

God continues to feed us with Jesus, the bread of life. His word has power to make us healthy spiritually by forgiving and restoring us to our true purpose as God's people. His word gives power to the Lord's Supper. When we receive it by faith in Jesus, we are fed with the very bread of life under the bread and wine. Here is the power to live. Live well now and live with God forever.

I'm going to have a funnel cake this week. I'll skip the deep fried candy bar. But it's only once a year. But let's all eat the bread of life every day as God's people, and we will be healthy forever. Amen.

Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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