Mid-Week Advent Vespers
The Week 3 service will be Tuesday, December 16th, at 7 PM.
The Week 4 service will be Christmas Eve, Holy Communion, 7 PM.
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #73 III.9
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 95 p. 143
The Lection John 15:1-10
The Sermon Hymn #479 III.92
I Am the Bread of Life
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45
The Hymn #283 III.90
KJV John 6:30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? 43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I Am the Bread of Life
As I said before in another sermon, “I Am” has a definite meaning in the Bible. “I Am” is the identity and meaning of God, the Name of God spoken by the Angel of the Lord, the Son of God.
As the orthodox Lutherans wrote, the Burning Bush is a figure of the Two Natures of Christ. The bush burned without being consumed, so it had two natures, one of fire, one of vegetation. The two appeared as one yet they were not combined. All those attributes are true of the Incarnate Son of God. Everyone saw One Person and yet He had (and still has) two natures, divine and human. The two natures are not mixed together or combined but united in that One Person, Christ.
Those who doubt the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion should dwell on this passage. Officially it is not a communion passage because it took place before the Last Supper. Also Zwingli used one verse in this chapter to deny the Real Presence.
If we look at this passage in the context of explaining what we already know from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, then this sermon is an excellent commentary on Holy Communion.
Just as we have the Good Shepherd in John 10, which really means the Unique Shepherd (The Living Jackson Translation), in this passage we have Jesus saying He is the True Bread.
The manna from heaven prefigured or foreshadowed the True Bread from heaven. Often in John Jesus is described and describes Himself as “from above” and “from heaven.” So the manna from heaven in Exodus the forerunner to the True Bread from heaven – Jesus Himself.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
The opposition groups (non-Lutheran Protestants, often called Reformed by the Lutherans, grouping them all together) teach against the Real Presence and make Holy Communion symbolic, or just a memorial meal, or just a spiritual presence.
Holy Communion is symbolic. Holy Communion is a Memorial Meal. And Christ is spiritually present. But Holy Communion is far more than that and cannot be reduced to just one aspect of the Biblical revelation.
We cannot escape from the divine meaning of “I Am.” When Jesus says, “I Am the True Bread from heaven,” He is also identifying Himself with the elements of Holy Communion, as He did at the Last Supper. He did not say, “This will be My Body; this will be My Blood.” He said, “This is My Body and Blood.” What He declared was already true even though He was not crucified and risen.
What God provides is not determined by man’s sense of time, as we can see with justification by faith. Many were justified by faith in the Messiah long before the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. They received what God promised, not bound by man’s concept of a timeline.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
There is some ironic humor in this. Throughout John people hear the divine, spiritual words of Jesus and they want material relief from His Promises. This response could be seen both ways – asking for material and for spiritual fulfillment. We should note that Jesus of hunger and thirst together, basic needs, but also references to the two sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
So many leaders try to frighten people into obeying them by threatening hellfire against them. Here are Jesus’ words to the contrary:
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Those who listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd follow Him, and He goes before them. He knows His own and they know Him.
John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
This section is so simple and plain. Anyone with a basic understanding of language can grasp what Christ is saying, yet the thoughts are profound. Seeing and believing in Christ means having everlasting life and being raised up on the last day.
The Jewish opponents did not like to hear this, because Jesus took away the righteousness of works and taught the righteousness of faith in Him. So they tried to demean Him. Either people heard His Word and trusted in Him or they became increasingly angry and hateful toward Him.
43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
This simple verse is another deadly attack against decision theology and all the man-made hoopla they are selling today via the religious hucksters. “No one can come to Me unless the Father draw him.”
How are people drawn to Jesus? Through the Word alone.
The Father, through the Holy Spirit, works to appoint preachers, to send the Word around the world, and to work on the hearts of all listeners. Through the Word, the Father’s will is always accomplished.
The more we stick to the plain meaning of the Word, the less we take credit for anything done. God accomplishes everything through the Word.
So if we want to be fruitful for the Kingdom, we cling to to the Word, we abide in Him and He abides in us.
One way to abide in the Word is to receive Holy Communion, which is provided each Sunday. Holy Communion is the True Bread from heaven, Christ present in both natures. We come before Christ and receive individually the Visible Word of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Many brag that they commune with nature, but we boast that we commune with Christ, since He is our True Bread from heaven.