Jesus is the Bread of Heaven - Sermon Chaplain DJ Kim Exodus 16:2–15 & John 6:22–35
(Sermon preached by our local missionary, Regina Police Service Chaplain Dong Joo Kim.)
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Exodus 16:2–5)
Text for this morning’s sermon is based on the Old Testament (Exodus 16:2-15) and Gospel (John 6:22-35) reading for today.
If you don’t mind I would love to sing a special song on Korean, not in English, this is about the broken soul that is being filled, touched by the grace of God. You can understand at least one word in the song “Jesus.”
In January of this year, sometime I hit the dark of the belly again, so I ended up being in the mental health unit at the hospital: I just crashed at that time mentally, emotionally. If it wasn’t for my brother [Pr.] Ted [Giese] I wouldn’t be here this morning: his ongoing support, ongoing prayer, his ongoing care has made me one who stands before you today.
[Song sung in Korean - sung by Chaplain DJ Kim multiple times a day will in hospital]
I believe there’s a restaurant that serves only food that is healthy and good for you and has a very large noticeboard out front that says, “Eat here and live a long life!” Not wanting to be outdone, the take-away hamburger and fish and chip shop next-door put up a sign that reads: “Eat here and die happy!”
We have so much food available to us these days – food that our ancestors would have imagined only in their wildest dreams. We have so much to choose from. Can you imagine the look on great grandma’s face if she was able to visit us today and take a walk into one of big supermarkets like Costco or Superstore. Great grandma grew what she could in the garden, swapped vegies for eggs, made sausages and salted down meat when great grandpa killed a sheep or a pig?
Can you imagine what she would think as she wandered between the aisles: whether we grew our own vegies and meat like great grandma or buy it from a supermarket food is essential for our bodies and brains. The right kind of food provides our bodies with all the goodness they need to keep them healthy and active, fridges and freezers filled with so much food? I wonder if our great grandma would be impressed or just wonder how lazy the modern generation has become.
From the beginning God provided what Adam and Eve needed to be happy and healthy. He provided them a safe place to live and very importantly gave them what was needed to keep their bodies active and healthy. When God created the first people Adam and Eve He made them in such a way that eating and drinking would always be a part of the life of every human and you know we cannot exist without food. Especially me: Me and food have very good relationship.
In today’s Old Testament reading the people of Israel are out in the wilderness and they are feeling of having nothing to eat. They complain that at least in Egypt they could sit down to a plenty meal of vegies and meat but out here in the desert there was nothing.
Perhaps, God knew they were hungry. Perhaps, He knew they needed food. They didn’t need to grumble and complain. God caused food to rain down from the sky – a flaky kind of substance that was called manna and they were able to gather it and make bread from it. He also gave them a daily supply of meat.
Remember, the arrival of this food had nothing to do with luck, fate or good fortune. Their great leader Moses makes it quite clear who gave them this life-saving food - none other than the Lord.
At the moment the gospel readings are from John chapter 6. This chapter starts with Jesus providing food for a hungry crowd. They had followed Jesus out into the wilderness with little thought where they would get food. So Jesus takes charge. He feeds every single man, woman and child there that day using the boy’s lunch. There were even leftovers.
Now you can imagine the popularity this created amongst the crowd as the food just kept coming on until there were leftover. They wanted to make Jesus a king. Some believed He was the prophet who would hail the coming of a new age come and to bring peace and prosperity to give then their land back. They followed Jesus for His fame and for good religious and pious reasons.
They could see that He could make their lives better. This man, Jesus sent by God would get rid of all poverty, hunger, drive out the Romans. But, big but, capital B U T, Jesus tells them their motives were all wrong and they were too focussed on the food that will spoil and not on the food that lasts for eternal life.
Jesus says that He is the food that they should be seeking. The kind of food He gave them in the wilderness is important and essential, but there is one kind of food that is even more important and essential – Jesus. "I am the bread of life" Jesus told them, "Those who come to Me will never be hungry; those who believe in Me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).
Just as food is essential for our physical safety and well-being, Jesus is essential for our eternal safety and spiritual well-being. When Jesus says "I am" He is referring to the name of God in the Old Testament and making the connection with the God of the Israelites who gave them food and drink and kept them alive. Jesus goes one step further and states that He is the Bread of Life.
He is the food that gives eternal life.
He is the food that encourages and comforts the guilty sinner.
He is the bread that enables us to carry the heavy loads that life can put on our shoulders.
He is the food that will strengthen us to face anything that comes our way.
With Jesus, the Bread of Life, there is nothing more that we need. This is bread that God gives to us as a gift. This is the bread that is not only good for the here and now but also for eternity.
This bread will change you. This bread will strengthen you for the journey ahead. This bread gives eternal life. This bread gives hope in the face of trouble, confusion and death.
As World War II was drawing to a close, the Allied armies gathered up many hungry orphans. They were placed in camps where they were well-fed. However, despite excellent care, they slept poorly. They couldn’t sleep. They seemed nervous and afraid. Finally, a psychologist came up with the solution. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after they were put to bed. This particular piece of bread was just to be held—not eaten. The piece of bread produced wonderful results.
The children went to bed knowing they would have food to eat the next day. That piece of bread gave the children a restful and good night’s sleep; it gave them hope and peace and security in the face of their terrible loss and uncertainty.
At this time I would like to take this opportunity to say: My millions of thanks to you – for your donating of the Tim Horton’s gift cards. When I go out and see high risk offenders, gang boys, I feed them. If I can give a piece of sandwich or a piece of cookie, it may the first meal of the day or it could be their last meal of the day. In this moment of happiness it is calming, gives peace and security. Thank you.
My Christian friends, If a small piece of bread can do that how much can the Bread of Life that came down from heaven give us the hope, peace, security and eternal life that only God can give.
"I am the bread of life," Jesus told them. "Those who come to Me will never be hungry."
Remember the two restaurants and their signs that I mentioned at the beginning. The health food one had “Eat here and live a long life!” and the fast-food one had “Eat here and die happy!” I wonder how you would advertise what Jesus offers. Maybe something like, “Eat here, and live and die happy, and live a long life forever.” Amen.
Let us pray:
Thank You Father for calling us to come to You today and to receive the food that our soul needs if we are to grow as You have planned for us to grow. We thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy. Open our hearts and our minds to Your presence. Increase our love for You and for our brothers and our sisters and guide us in this time of pandemic so that we might be persons who shine with the light of our Lord and Saviour, we ask it in His name. Amen.