Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lenten Midweek Sermon: "I AM the Bread of Life"

+ Lenten midweek sermon – March 9th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
I AM the Bread of Life
John 6:22-71

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

According to my aunts, uncles, and my father, Grandpa Schuldheisz was known for his witty, memorable phrases. And to this day, anytime I see a loaf of white bread lying around, I hear them saying one of his token phrases:

“The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.”

It’s good nutritional advice to be sure, but more than that, there’s Scriptural wisdom in those words. Jesus’ declaration, I AM the Bread of Life takes us all the way back to Genesis.

Cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

Bread is a food of the Fall.  East of Eden, bread takes work. Seeds are sown. The farmer harvests. The miller grinds. The baker bakes. The truck delivers. The shelves are stocked. The grocer sells. Then we buy and eat. It’s one big sweaty mess.

And even after all that work there’s still something missing in Adam’s bread. This bread can’t rescue us from Sin or Death. This bread fills us one moment, and leaves us hungry the next. This bread doesn’t last. We spend our lives chasing after bread that spoils and food that can’t save. Bread is a sign of our mortality; it comes from the earth and feeds our bodies which will one day return to the earth.

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.

Bread also makes an appearance in the Exodus. YHWH provided Bread from heaven. The food of angels, they called it. Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you, declares the Lord, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion for every day.

Israel didn’t have to work for this bread. No labor, planting, or harvesting. No sweaty brows, calloused hands, or sore backs. All they had to do was go outside their tents and there it was. Manna in the wilderness. YHWH provided just enough for each day, no more, no less.

And yet Israel still grumbled against the Lord: We loathe this worthless food. Why did you bring us out into the wilderness to die? Would that we were in Egypt where sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full.

Bread couldn’t save Adam. The bread from heaven God gave through Moses couldn’t save Israel either. And neither will Adam or Moses save us.

For like Adam, we have hungered and thirsted for self-righteousness; we have labored to fill our bellies with the food of this world; we cannot live by bread alone. Like Israel we’ve grumbled and groaned against God’s grace; we’ve pushed aside the Lord’s bread to get all we can eat at the world’s buffet; we foolishly think that slavery in sin looks more appetizing and satisfying than the bread of life God offers freely.

As Jesus tells the crowds in John 6, Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they died. That’s the problem. Like Adam and Israel, we eat bread to our death. Ordinary bread won’t save us.

The bread that Jesus gives, however, is completely different. I AM the Bread of Life, Jesus declares. And each time he says it, the flavor of his words intensifies.

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

I am the bread that came down from heaven.

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.

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.

Just think how bread is made: Seeds of grain are cast into the earth, harvested, ground into flour, mixed with yeast and other ingredients, kneaded, baked, and finally consumed. So it is with Jesus, the Bread of Life. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”

On the cross, Jesus devoured our grumbling and traded our groaning for rejoicing. By the sweat and blood of his brow, Jesus labored under the weight of our sin for you; he suffered and wrestled with thistle and thorn on the cross for you. And then he returned to the dust of the earth for you. Jesus swallowed Adam’s bread of death in order to give you the Living Bread of his flesh and raise you to life.

And now when we come to the Lord’s Supper we have the same promise: Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  

Jesus takes the food of the Fall, fills it with his death and resurrection, and turns it into a feast of forgiveness. This Bread is the medicine of immortality, a cure for death. This Bread has the power to raise you to life from the dead. This Bread will never perish, and in eating and drinking, guarantees that you will never perish either.

Jesus is our Bread of Life. Jesus is our true Manna in the wilderness. Jesus is the Bread that the Father gives at great cost to Him and no cost to us.

I AM the Bread of Life. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


  1. Dear brother, thank you for your post. Keep up the good fight and may the Lord bless you.

    1. Robert, Thank you for reading and for the encouraging word. Christ's peace be with you this Holy Week and in the Easter season to come!