The Rev. Paul J Cain
Proper 15B, 19 August 2012
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Jesus says: 51 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.”
The Lord, through God the Holy Spirit, calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith. His Word is life. Christ is life. Taste and see that that the Lord is Good.
And the Lord’s promises here grant you not only faith and life, but also eternal salvation: heaven! AND, Jesus will raise you up on the Last Day. The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting complete the full picture of eternity for us all. If you feed on Him, He promises that you will live forever.
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Is John 6 about Holy Communion? Yes, yet John 6 is not only about the Lord’s Supper. It is all about Jesus. In John 6, Jesus Himself reminds us of who He is and what He does for the life of the world. He is the bread of life. According to His Words of Institution of the Sacrament of the Altar in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and 1 Corinthians 10-11, Jesus gives us His own Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins. Is this a hard saying? Yes. Some take offense at it. Yet, the majority of all Christians who have ever lived as well as the majority of Christians alive today believe what Jesus says about His own Body and Blood given and shed for us to eat and to drink.
As I mentioned last Sunday and will write about in the September Newsletter, the elders and I are preparing to slightly modify our distribution practice in September.
Currently, an elder welcomes communicants to the Lord’s Table with a greeting and the host, the communion bread and Body of Christ. Then, I follow with the individual glass communion cups and the common cup. I have appreciated this arrangement in my first few years here because your elders have helped me get to know you at the altar rail.
As your called “steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1), I take seriously all that St. Paul models and teaches in the way of pastoral care concerning the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. Therefore, our proposed distribution practice is this: As pastor, I will welcome communicants to the Lord’s Table with a greeting and will administer the host, the communion bread and Body of Christ. Then, an elder will follow with the individual glass communion cups. I will come around again to administer the common cup.
One of the best parts of Lutheran theology and practice is the example of Luther in teaching the congregation before modifying practice. Such teaching before any apparent change helps avoid misunderstandings, allays fears, and helps all of us better understand what Jesus teaches about anything in God’s Word.
Each Sunday is an opportunity to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. Each Lord’s Day is a day when the Lord Himself gathers His people together in a place like this for the purpose of being present with them and serving them with His Word and Gifts. Today, we have fed on Jesus by hearing, reading, singing, and praying His Word. Today, He will gather us at His Table to feed us with the very bread of life. Today, He again keeps His promises to you.
As Jesus said during His earthly ministry, He declares again today to us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.