I know you all remember the story from scripture about the day when a huge crowd had gathered around Jesus. They were amazed because he was healing people and working miracles. They all just wanted to be near him – to see what he was all about. But the day was getting long and the disciples got into a bit of a panic. They said to Jesus: “what are we doing to do? We have all these people here and nothing to feed them.” They said, “we found a boy with 5 loaves and bread and 2 fish but that will never be enough.”
Jesus told them to sit everyone down. They did, and there were 5000 people. He took the bread and gave thanks and then gave it to the people and they all ate until they were full. They gathered 12 baskets full of leftovers.
So we’re going to start out today with a little bread (baskets of bread and butter were then placed out on the tables and around our worship space). And I want to ask you a question. When have you been fed by Jesus? Perhaps in an unexpected way—or in a way that was abundant and overflowing with leftovers of blessing. When have you been fed by Jesus? We then read the Scripture John 6:24-25 for those following along on the net.
Jesus said to them: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Wouldn’t it be great to eat bread and never be hungry again; or drink water and then never be thirsty? Wouldn’t it be great to never want for anything? To never feel empty? To never feel inadequate? It seems to be the human condition that we are always trying to fill ourselves up because we feel empty of something.
Do you know that TV show America’s Got Talent? Nick Cannon is the host. The judges are: Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel. Have you seen the show? It’s been on for eight seasons, and for the eight years in a row “Talent” has been the #1 summer reality tv series.
If you have not seen it, just imagine an old fashioned talent show. They have performers from across the United States: singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers, magicians and ventriloquists. They all compete to win America’s hearts and the $1 million prize.” (source: http://www.deadline.com/2013/11/americas-got-talent-judges-returning-for-ninth-season/)
But when you watch this show week after week, it’s sort of like the judges and the audience get hungrier and hungrier for an even crazier and more daring act. No matter when the contestant does, we want MORE from them the next week. Our need for entertainment must be fed. We must be satisfied. Like the crowd in the story with Jesus, we are hungry and we must be fed.
The day after Jesus fed the 5000 by the Sea of Galilee, the crowd came looking for him. Jesus said: “Now wait just a minute. You are looking here for me because you ate your fill of food. And now you want more.” He said to them: “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one whom God has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:30-31)
These people are really demanding, they get on my nerves eventually. He fed them one day and so there they are the next day asking for more. I can just hear their whiney little voices: “Sure you fed us yesterday, but what have you done for us lately.”
He had just told them that their work was to believe in him. And yet they ask for more signs.
Jesus tells them: “It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
He tells them again: It’s not about the physical bread. It’s about believing in Jesus. Yes, Jesus fed them the day before in order to get their attention. Jesus will do whatever it takes to get our attention. Jesus wants to see that out basic needs our met. Jesus will use the resources of the Earth to meet the basic human needs of the people here. But there is more to our existence that food and water and shelter.
There is spiritual food and water. Jesus is our spiritual food and water. You see, Jesus wanted a relationship with those people, and he wants it with us too. He used the bread, and the miracles to get their attention. He uses things to get our attention too: the beauty of creation, music that speaks to our souls, human touch. But it all points to him.
All the blessing in our lives comes from God. That is what Jesus came to tell us. So, the people said: “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?” 29 Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”
Follow Jesus, live your life for Jesus, in the way of Jesus, and that gives you a connection to God. Living in the way of Jesus gets us way more than just some bread. Bread does not last. You are probably already hungry for more bread. Being in relationship means we will feel deeply satisfied. We won’t feel empty.
We won’t have that longing and that thirst. We won’t have to anesthetize ourselves with material things, and extreme sports, and forms of entertainment that have to get more and more exciting. We will have God’s love and we will have relationships with people who know God’s love, here – here in this community. This is the bread of life, here in the Village community. We are living bread, living for one another. When we care for one another, when we take care of each other’s needs, we are bread for one another.
So, today, I invite you to consider all the ways that Jesus feeds you. Give thanks for your blessings. And then I invite you to lean more deeply into the love that God offers us through Jesus. Don’t just seek the basics from God. Seek a deep relationship, a deep relationship that demands your attention. Give your whole life to God. Make God’s desires for you, your priority. That means you have to ask God, listen to God, and order your life around those priorities.
You see, Jesus doesn’t want to give us just bread to eat. He wants to be the bread of our life. He wants to live in us and he wants us to live for him all the days of our lives. Jesus is the bread of life. Whoever comes to him will never be hungry, and whoever believes in him and lives in him will never be thirsty again. Amen.