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Worship Theme: Why is Jesus the only Way to life with God?
Sermon Theme: Jesus Is the Best Bread
There’s been many, many different versions, but they all end the same way. They started out pretty simple and basic: a couple waking up in the morning, the sun’s first rays come pouring in the window, then a pleasing aroma opens their eyes and puts a smile on their face. They’ve done some sentimental ones, where a brother and sister surprise their parents by returning home for Christmas and of course by brewing a pot of coffee. There’s even a more recent pandemic inspired set of commercials. There’s one where the mom on a zoom call uses her coffee cup to try to hide the view of her children running around in the background. And another where the business man forgets that if you are going to attend a zoom meeting with no pants on that you better make sure to keep camera pointed at your upper half! But they all end in the same way, with one of the most recognizable jingles that’s ever been written. And if you’ve seen these or any other Folgers commercial, you can sing the jingle right along with me: “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup!”
Is your home in the morning a Folgers commercial? Have you figured out how to program your coffee pot to wake up 30 minutes before you do? Do you remember to fill the pot with water, so that you can wake up to the smell of fresh coffee?
While I agree that the smell of coffee in the air is a sweet and wonderful smell, for me it’s not the smell of coffee that will wake me up, for me it’s the smell of bread! Growing up, my father would bake bread and all sorts of other doughy-wonderful treats. Stollen and sticky buns all sorts of other delicious creations that I loved. Bread of so many varieties I can’t even remember them all. Bread’s wonderful smell would fill the house and even make its way up to the bedroom. That’s what would make my eyes open and put a smile on my face.
Maybe there isn’t a baker in your family, but have you ever walked into a shop like Grebe’s Bakery? It smells so good in there that you’ll gladly break the budget just to be able to take home a loaf or a piece of that deliciousness.
Maybe you have your own favorite place to go or maybe you have your own recipe to your own delicious bread, but none of it can top the bread that we hear about and that we receive in our gospel today. Today we learn to rejoice and give thanks that Jesus is the Best Bread!
The Gospel for the last two weeks, this weekend’s Gospel, and even the Gospel for the next two Sundays, all record the events that took place in a two-day period between Jesus, his disciples and the crowds that gathered to see, hear and experience him. Jesus and his disciples set sail on the sea to find a quiet place away from the crowds. But the crowds weren’t so interested in leaving Jesus and his disciples alone. They followed him, some in boats and some on foot around the sea. That’s how they ended up in such a remote place at dinner time. Having compassion on them and seeking to display his power, Jesus multiplied the five loaves of bread and two fish and fed the crowd of 5,000 men and their families. Then the disciples got in the boat that night and started sailing across the sea. Dr. Huebner last week reminded us so well of about the storm and how Jesus walked to them on the water. Jesus calmed the storm and reminded them - and us – that that because we have Jesus, we have no reason to be afraid! Then Jesus and the disciples sailed to Capernaum and again the crowds catch up with them there. Our Gospel today catches up with them as well! Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
The people knew that something special had happened. They saw that the disciples had boarded a boat alone on one side of the lake. But on the other side of the lake when they were ready to port, Jesus was with them. They knew that another miracle had taken place.
They knew something about Jesus, but Jesus knew something about them as well. Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
That was the reason that Jesus left the crowds the night before. They wanted to make him their Bread King. They wanted Jesus to give them miraculous bread all the time. They wanted to be fed without work and they wanted his miracles to entertain them.
Jesus used the context of his miracle to explain that the people were striving after the wrong thing! He told them that they were chasing bread that spoils. And isn’t that too often us? How often don’t we spend effort and energy and labor on bread that spoils? How often don’t we strive after physical bread and leave the lasting spiritual bread uneaten? We think nothing of 40 hours a week doing our job, often snatching up overtime opportunities when they arise. We think nothing of two hours for a movie or three hours for a sporting event. We easily spend 10 hours on a Saturday doing something that we love. But 15 minutes a day to spend reading God’s Word or the two-hour experience of Bible Class and worship once a week? You’ve been caught explaining either aloud or in your head “I don’t have time for those things!” Or once we have come to worship then we feel like we’ve put in our time for the week.
Or what about the things that we allow to supersede worship and Bible Study? Is it kid’s sports? Camping every weekend? Sleeping in? You fill in your own list of things that you are tempted to prioritize over the things that God wants you to do. Isn’t that list really a list of things that are bread that spoils? And when we eat just things that spoil and not living Bread, we deserve to become spoiled ourselves. We deserve to be sick and spoiled and worse. When we violate God’s laws, when we selfishly sin against our God, we deserve to have the living Bread taken away. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God took away the Tree of Life and cast them away from the Garden forever. We deserve to have the Bread of Life taken from us. We deserve to be cast from God’s presence – now and forever.
And it’s there, in the depths of sin and despair that our need becomes clearest. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot fix our sins; we cannot mix up a batch of our own bread that saves. We deserve death, but that’s exactly when and why our God gives us the Bread of Life. We don’t deserve the free lunch that he provides, but that’s what grace is! It’s God’s undeserved love is given to sinners like us! It’s a free feast that we don’t deserve and can’t pay for – but we’re given it anyways, the Bread of Life to eat. He feeds us so that we can experience his love. He feeds us so that faith can be ours – faith to believe that Jesus has forgiven our sins and that he is the one and only source of Life. He gives us life because there is nowhere else we can find it, and no one else to provide!
The Bread of Life feeds our souls that we might be able to see him as Savior and Lord. The Bread of Life gives us spiritual life that we might know that what was impossible for us to do, Jesus did. He lived according to God’s law for us! He lived the perfect life that the law demands. He lived that life for us, so that he could give us his perfection. And then, in order that he could share his own life, the Bread of Life died! He was willing to become the sacrifice for our sins. He was willing to take our punishment so that we could have his life. He died on our cross and was placed where we should have gone – the grave. He lived and died, but rose again, because that was the only way that he could be the Bread of Life. That was the only way that he could give us his love. That was the only way that salvation could be ours. Jesus gives us bread that will last – into eternity. Heaven is our home because the Bread of Life feeds our needs. Heaven is our home because of our Savior’s love.
So, feast on that Bread of Life. Consume his words and his love. Hear his words of forgiveness and life and make them your own. Be connected to him so that you can grow – in your appreciation for his love, in your willingness to make him #1 in your life, in your desire to grow closer to him.
There are a lot of people in your life that are hungry and most of them don’t even know it! There are a lot of people in our life who are hungry and you have The Best Bread. Feed those around you with the Bread of Life! Don’t know where to start? Start with the people that you might give earthly bread to! Raise your children to long for the Bread of Life. Feed them daily the bread the lasts. Center your marriage on feeding each other. Living Bread will make you both strong to endure the attacks that will come. Feed the needy ones in your church. Take a meal to those who are in need or drop a surprise to let others know you are praying for them. Feed their bodies, but offer them the Bread of Life – a needed reminder and encouragement for anyone.
And once you’ve fed those around you and those in your family and family of faith, begin to recognize how hungry the world around you is. They feast on bread that spoils. They look in all the wrong places, but you have The Best Bread. Look for ways to feed them. Share your faith with a neighbor, invite them to join you for worship, share a social media post from Grace, create your own words of comfort for an individual or let your light shine online with your own content. Share a link of the service video or grab a printed copy of the sermon to share. Then others can feast too! Any of these are ways that you can feed those around you with the Bread that you have, the Bread that you enjoy!
Fresh baked bread is good to smell. It’s even better to eat. But nothing beats the feast that Jesus gives us, the food that he provides. Eat it every day, because you know that Jesus is the Best Bread! Amen.
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Grace Lutheran Church
1209 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202