Mid-Week Lenten Vespers, 2022
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
This will be the Vimeo encoder tonight.
We are working on a camera upgrade to make RESI work.
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 24 p. 128
The Lections The Passion History
The Sermon – I AM the Bread of Life
The Lord’s Prayer
The Name of God is unique and should fill us with wonder and praise. The thousands if not millions of divine names in paganism are connected with animals and many kinds of gross, human references. I AM is all-encompassing and puts to shame all the local gods and goddesses. This Name unites the Old and New Testaments because Jesus Himself employed it in His Gospel of John sermons. Unworthy scholars would make Jesus in the Fourth Gospel to be Gnostic – occultic – and not Jewish. Nothing is truer to Israel than Jesus as the human face of God, using His Name again from the Burning Bush – I AM.
John was the disciple Jesus loved. He was present at the cross, when he was given the honor of taking care of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was one of the first the empty tomb, and the risen Christ came to him and the disciples while they were fishing, providing a cooked meal before they could bring their catch ashore.
The hot air merchants of rationalism have much to say about the Four Gospels, mostly wrong. One thing is very clear – the Fourth Gospel is the capstone of the Gospels. John’s Gospel completes and comments upon the events we know from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Fourth Gospel also preserves unique sermons and narratives, and reveals the public ministry of Christ as three years with the disciples.
Those who want to understand the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, whether they are Jews, Christians, or non-aligned, should study the Gospel of John. The Fourth Gospel is a commentary on the Books of Moses, revealing to us that many unusual stories from that era foreshadowed the Christ of the New Testament. By reading and meditating on John, we see the Christian Faith in Moses, and by reading the Torah again, we understand how God fashioned the future to fulfill the Promises of the past.
Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel is rich with lessons, starting with the feeding of the multitude, followed by Jesus coming to the disciples as they were dealing with a great windstorm at night on the sea.
KJV John 6: 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, “It is I; be not afraid.” εγω ειμι μη φοβεισθε – Literally – I AM, do not be afraid.
Some would take issue with that, but the disciples, knowing Greek, also knew the language of Exodus 3, when the Angel of the Lord named Himself as I AM, εγω ειμι. Who but the Word incarnate could walk on water?
People came looking for Jesus, after the great miracle of healing, and He challenged them about their motives, which anticipated the last few decades of the Gospel bringing material success instead of the cross. After this miracle, the people wanted even more, so Jesus questioned their motives.
KJV John 6: 26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
This is a fine example of Jesus teaching something that would have enormous importance if it were not ignored. How do we work the works of God? On the Roman Catholic side, there is a long list of works, including praying for the dead to stay a shorter time in Purgatory. Money given to the priest helps too. That is a “reparation offering,” meaning literally in Latin that they are paying for sins – reparations. But this also addresses the limit of works.
The work of God is to believe on Him He has sent – Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Midwestern Objective Justification scheme has clergy wildly and dramatically saying, “You are making faith a WORK!” The Bible does not speak about works on their own but the works which are the fruit of Gospel faith. This faith does not happen as a decision or an effort of intelligence but develops from the Spirit conveying Jesus to the individual. What is spoken is heard and understood, even by babies. Anyone can see that when the baby moves his head to hear his mother’s voice and cries when seeing a stranger the first time. When nurses tried to teach Jesus to Erin, her response (without words) was, “I know Him.” She was baptized and brought into the Kingdom of God as a tiny baby.
In viewing this accusation of faith being a WORK – that is exactly what Jesus said, and it is sad that clergy do not know or believe that. The effective Work works on those who have been taught error. It is not the speaker but the Word that converts.
The Gospel of John especially emphasizes faith in Jesus Christ as the One who teaches His Father’s teacher and does His Father’s will. Faith – as trust in the Savior – is powerful because it gives us access to God’s grace through faith in Him. (Romans 5:2) Those who oppose this are against the Fourth Gospel and the Apostle Paul. Faith in Him must be first or else human solutions and attitudes will prevail with bad consequences. The religious opponents then, like those today, knew the truth enough to hate it and remove it, any way possible.
The curious then said to Jesus – show us a miracle (literally a sign, which meant much more then than our watered-down idea – “I saw… it was a sign from heaven.” These signs in John are divine miracles to be seen and experienced, not a daydream. They went on to brag about Moses providing bread in the desert (Exodus again). “What can you do?”
KJV John 6:31 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:
εγω ειμι ο αρτος της ζωης 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.
I AM the Bread of Life:
he that cometh to me shall never hunger;
and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Our tendency is to focus on the bread of life. Since this is about His divinity, I AM is more appropriate for emphasizing the meaning of the Bread of Life. One of the Beatitudes is – He who hungers and thirsts for righteousness shall be satisfied. Faith in Him means that hunger and thirst will be satisfied, just as food and water take care of us when we are faint with hunger and dehydrated.
This is the dramatic difference between the opponents dealing with material things and relying only on their reason and senses. What Jesus teaches is intangible and eternal.