Reading: John 6:25-35
We begin our journey through those ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus. They don’t all follow on one after the other so there will be a bit of fast forwarding some weeks. Each and every one of them is filled with so much meaningful symbolism. This morning we begin with Jesus saying, ‘I am the bread of life’ and I want to try once more looking at this from a slightly different angle than we would normally do. Of course to do this I will have to make reference to some of the symbolism and constant messages that are contained within this and the other ‘I am’ sayings. The setting comes immediately after Jesus feeding of the five thousand and crossing the lake to the other side. The disciples witness him walking on the water but as the crowd arrives they are confused as to how Jesus had reached the shore and this is where we pick up the story in our reading. The crowd found Jesus and he rebuked them. They were there for more of what they could get. They had eaten their fill with the fish and the loaves but it was not the witnessing of these miraculous signs that had caused them to believe Jesus was the Messiah they had followed simply to be filled with more of what he could give them. These signs were not for them evidence of Jesus being the Son of God but they saw in them ways of getting wat they wanted, be it more food or more healing or whatever. All of this points us to relationships that have no depth. When one side of the relationship has only desires to take, take, take. Has only one thought in mind, ‘what can I get out of this?’ Never a good basis for any long term meaningful relationship and Jesus seen this in the crowd that followed him that day. Their interest was in the material things of this world. Jesus says don’t let that cloud the vision. Work for the heavenly things, things of a spiritual nature. For things of the world will perish but things of the Spirit, Heavenly, Godly things are for ever and will last through all eternity. Again that lack of depth of understanding shines through. What are we to do to get this? How can I work my way to this eternal thing? How do I earn the right to eat this food that endures? I don’t really understand what you are saying but I sure like the thought of what you are offering. What do I need to do for you to give me what I want?
Me, me, me, take, take, take. Of the work that needs to be done is different. It involves believing in Jesus as the Son of God. It means taking time to study the Word of God. Set aside time for prayer and reflect on what Jesus calls us to do. I call it work but of course all of that only ever comes as a gift from God. Jesus will give this spiritual food as he sees fit and to those whom he chooses as his own. It cannot be earned by our own effort but only always and ever in relationship with Christ who is the bread of life. The significance of the verse, ’on him God the father has placed his seal of approval.’ Would have been of great symbolic importance to those in the crowd because at that time a seal was something that held together your integrity, it represented who you were and how honourable, or not, you could be viewed in society. A letter that was sealed proved it was written by the owner of the seal and no one else. This proved that the words in the letter could indeed be attributed to you. What are the seals that we use today? There are some old sayings, ‘he’s as good as his word’ ‘my word is my bond’ ‘a handshake seals the deal’ the seals required to convince someone you are genuine about things. Remember at the baptism of Jesus the word of God was heard to say, ‘this is my son with whom I am well pleased’ and the dove came down placing the seal of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus. Like the seal on those letters of olden times we use our signature as proof of who we are and sign official papers to testify that we have placed our seal on whatever we have signed we acknowledge the matters there in and by signing we agree to them. Even though the concept of that seal of approval has been around for a long time we learn that new ways can be undertaken to fulfil the same role. In our times now emails are used as a seal and can be taken as legal documents. You can create your own electronic signature. We move with the times and the things of yesteryear continue but in new and different ways. No lesser importance bestowed upon them, quite simply that recognition, change can happen and indeed inevitably must happen. To say God’s seal is upon Jesus is to state quite clearly he has come from God the Father. Work required to receive all of this? Jesus answer was short. Believe in the one he has sent. In believing, in having faith, you will work at this and we all know that to be true. There are times in life, for whatever reason, we have to work that wee bit harder in our faith. Just as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman last week he was the living water, drinking of which you would never go thirsty again, he closes by saying I am the bread of life eating of which you would never go hungry again. By drinking this water and eating this bread we believe in Jesus as the Christ and accept him fully into our lives as Lord.