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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

John 6:35–51

James T. Batchelor

Pentecost 11, Proper 14, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Aug 9, 2015 

It has been a really wacky summer in our culture. 

By a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided against biology, against all of human history, and against the moral standards of several major world religions by changing the definition of marriage to include same sex relations.

In a related development, the Boy Scouts of America have surrendered to the homosexual movement and now allow homosexual scout leaders in the organization.  This has forced the LC-MS and many other church bodies to re-examine the issue of congregations who support scout troops.

Hidden camera footage has shown that the cruel practices of Planned Parenthood are even greater than we thought.

Several agencies have charged parents with child endangerment for allowing their children to walk to a park and play there without adult supervision.

These are just a few examples that show how our culture has changed.  It has, indeed, been a wacky summer.

Some of these changes seem related, but other changes seem to have nothing to do with each other.  Never the less, if you examine these changes carefully, you will find a common idea behind them.  These changes came about because the relationship between truth and feelings changed in our culture.

There was a time when truth was important in our culture.  We thought it was important for people to know the truth so that they could make good decisions as they lived their lives.  Now, our culture values feelings more than truth.  Who cares if something is true or not as long as it makes me feel good about myself?

Consider Bruce Jenner.  He stated that he had always felt more comfortable as a woman.  So he engaged in some serious hormone therapy and some radical plastic surgery.  Now he looks like a woman and acts like a woman and dresses like a woman.  He has changed his name from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner.  Now everyone calls him she (S-H-E) instead of he (H-E).  Our culture expects us to respect Caitlyn Jenner and actually gives her awards for her bravery.  Caitlyn Jenner is an example of what happens when feelings are more important than truth.

The really strange thing about this is that our culture still wants most people to base their decisions on truth.  We want the banker to keep careful track of our money, and not just do what he feels like with our money.  We want the doctor to treat us for the disease we actually have, and not for the disease that is more interesting to him.  We even want the fast food restaurant to give us the food we ordered instead of the food they feel like giving us.  Our lives are full of examples where it is actually dangerous to base our decisions on our feelings instead of on the truth.  I dont know about you, but I much prefer the dull boredom of landing a 747 on a runway, as opposed to the excitement of landing it in the nearby cornfield.  In spite of all this, we have become culture that celebrates people who follow their feelings instead of following the truth.

This problem with truth is not something new.  People down through the centuries have always had this strange attitude toward truth.  When we are dealing with things in this world, we value people who can deal with reality businessmen, leaders, scientists, and so forth.

Never the less, when we consider our eternal well-being, the importance of truth more or less disappears.  Even though God Himself revealed eternal truth through His prophets, people prefer the religion from their own imaginations.  They wander away from the truth.  They forget the promises God made through His prophets.

The Holy Spirit made promises about Messiah.  When Messiah comes, the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. (Isaiah 35:56) Jesus has been fulfilling those signs.  As Jesus preached and taught the blind received their sight, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised up, and the poor had good news preached to them.  In fact, Jesus had taken the contents of a boys lunch box, and fed 5,000 men and their families.  The crowd should have seen these signs and said, Jesus is Messiah. They should have known that His Words are the truth.

Therefore, when Jesus began to tell the crowds about the blessings of believing in Him, the crowds should have listened.  When Jesus described Himself as the Bread from heaven that cures eternal hunger and the drink that cures eternal thirst, they should have recognized Him as the Messiah.  When Jesus described Himself as the One Who came down from Heaven, they should have recognized that God the Father sent Him into human flesh.  When Jesus described the relationship between Himself and the Father, they should have believed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Sadly, when people forget the truth and believe a lie, the truth often makes them angry.  Instead of listening to Jesus, the people grumbled.  They remembered the boy Jesus who grew up in the home of Joseph and Mary.  How could someone who grew up in their neighborhood be the Messiah the Son of God?  They considered it ridiculous, offensive, and foolish that He claimed to have come down from heaven and to dispense a bread which afforded eternal life.  They thought He was either an evil liar or a great fool for trying to persuade them that He had come from heaven.  In spite of all the signs that Jesus was proclaiming the truth, the people rejected Jesus.

This should be a warning to us.  Like the people of Capernaum, we also prefer to reject our savior.  Each of us needs to examine ourselves.  How am I like those people?  How do I reject the truth that God wants to give me in His Word?  Do I skip over the parts of Gods Word that bother me?  Do I just read my favorite parts of the Bible and ignore the rest?  Do I try to explain away the parts of the bible that bother me?

Perhaps the most offensive thing Jesus said came near the end of todays reading.  He said, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:51) That small word anyone means that the salvation He earned with His suffering and death on the cross are for all people in all places and in all times.  It means that the worst sinner in the entire history of the world can receive the forgiveness that Jesus earned with His death.

At the end of World War II, a Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod pastor, Chaplain Henry Gerecke, had a very challenging catechism class.  His commanding officer sent him to Nuremberg to provide spiritual council for the NAZI prisoners who were on trial for war crimes.  Like many LC-MS pastors, he spoke fluent German, AND before the war he had conducted a prison ministry in the United States.

Some of the prisoners rejected the Gospel of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, but others heard Gereckes words and the Holy Spirit brought them into the family of God even while they waited for the hangmans noose.  Joachim Von Ribbentrop was one of the NAZI criminals in Gereckes congregation.  As he stood on the hangmans platform, he said, I place all my confidence in the Lamb who made atonement for my sins. May God have mercy on my soul. Then he turned to Gerecke and said, Ill see you again. The black hood was pulled over his face.  The thirteen-coiled noose was put around his neck and he dropped through the trap door. 

Jesus said, anyone The Apostle Paul described himself and said, I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9) He also said, The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Jesus said, anyone St. Augustine was an immoral, womanizing playboy before the Holy Spirit performed the miracle of faith in him.  He lived a life as obscene as anything that you hear about today.  Never the less, the Holy Spirit worked faith in him and he became one the great theologians of all time.

Some people take offense that such obscenely evil sinners are waiting at Jesus side waiting for the resurrection on the Last Day.  The truth is that the salvation of these horrible sinners points to the simple fact that Jesus died for the sins of the world.  When Jesus said, If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, He meant that it makes no difference who you are or what you have done.  There is forgiveness for you in His perfect life, His suffering, and His death.  Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

It is by the Holy Spirits gift of faith that we can eat of Jesus Christ, the bread of life from heaven.  By that gift of faith, we can believe that Jesus is eternal food and drink who will keep us alive with Him in eternity.  We have the promise of Jesus that just as He rose from the dead, so also will He appear on the Last Day to raise me and all the dead.  On that day, all the sinners who believe in Him will rise in body and soul and join Him in eternal life.

And as Jesus said this promise is for anyone.  Amen

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