"Trolling Jesus" John 6:35-51 Sermon Pr. Ted Giese Sunday August 12th 2018 Season of Pentecost
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday August 12th 2018: Season of Pentecost / John 6:35–51 "Trolling Jesus"
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on The Last Day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise Him up on The Last Day.”
So the Jews grumbled about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on The Last Day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me—not that anyone has seen the Father except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. While teaching on this Gospel Reading Martin Luther commented, “If all the smart alecks on earth were to pool their wits, they could not devise a ladder on which to ascend to heaven.” Our reading today includes some of these smart alecks, people who had been witnesses to the miraculous event of the previous day and now had come to find Jesus the day after Jesus had fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five barley loaves and two fish (basically a boys lunch) and presumably Jesus had fed them too with as much food as they had wanted to eat, just think about it: You were at an amazing event by choice and then the next day you again choose to seek out the man who facilitated the amazing event which you were a witness to and participant of only to heckle and troll Him on purpose … who does that? And you have to take a second day off work to do it. What I’m talking about are the people who grumbled and asked, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” To be charitable, on the one hand you could say that they were trying to piece it all together, that they were having a hard time digesting what Jesus was saying … that He, Jesus, was the Bread of Life, the very bread they were partaking of, that they in fact had been part of a giant object lesson. You could say that. On the other hand that question, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” is kind of a jerk question. They are totally being smart alecks but here we see that Jesus doesn’t fall for it, He doesn’t get baited by their trolling. He stays on topic.
How do we know this? Well St. John’s account shows us that Jesus repeated His main points in order that they would be clear. He doesn’t get dragged off topic, that’s usually what trolls and smart alecks are after, to disrupt the conversation and ruin a good thing.
So Jesus’ main points are;
1) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.
2) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.
3) And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on The Last Day.
4) For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise Him up on The Last Day.”
5) 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.”
Jesus really hammers home that He is from God the Father, that He descended to earth, that He is there to provide spiritual food and eternal life and that on the Last Day He will raise all who believe in Him to that eternal life. Again to be charitable the smart alecks who were there trolling Jesus may just have looked at Him and said “no, this is not possible,” even though they had had their fill of the miracle the previous day they just couldn’t see how this man was who He said He was and perhaps their feelings were to be expected; Jesus was, and is, the one who Isaiah in the Old Testament had prophesied about when he said, that the coming Messiah, the coming Saviour, “had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him” and Isaiah said that it had been that way right from His childhood as He grew up. There was something exceedingly humble about Jesus and some people like these ones with their grumbling can’t abide the humility of Jesus. His claims are extraordinary but for these men the package doesn’t live up to the claim of the contents and this is the problem for them. Jesus is like a pound of diamonds and precious gemstones in a dented old rusted out tin can … like an ingot of gold wrapped in tinfoil, or White Pearl Albino Caviar served in a beat up old plastic Tupperware dish, you get the picture.
Isaiah in the very next verse goes on to say of the coming Messiah, the coming Saviour, the coming Christ Jesus, that “He was despised and rejected by men, [that He was] a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” Isaiah here both points to the beaten, broken, bloodied, and dead Christ Jesus upon the cross as well as the man who walked the dusty streets of the small towns of the region of Galilee like Nazareth as a boy and Capernaum in His public ministry. And it’s safe to say that these men, these smart alecks who were trolling Jesus, didn’t make much of Jesus, or if they did they wanted publicly to be seen by everyone else there making little of Him. And again Jesus doesn’t take the bait, He shows true humility when He was actually one who doesn’t need to for He was, and is, and ever shall be the very Son of God.
Last week Pr. Albrecht shared this quote, let’s think about it again today in relation to the Bread of Life, in relation to Jesus and to you: “Every boy wants to be a man. Every man wants to be a king. Every king wants to be a God. Only God wanted to be a boy.” Again this is humility and humility in the ancient world was not yet counted as a virtue. Because of Jesus western culture has valued humility … and when you get right down to it Jesus the only begotten Son of the Father born of the Virgin Mary had a humble birth, yes announced by angles, and yes at a young age visited by wise men bearing gifts, but He was still God confined to the womb of the virgin for around 9 months just as you were physically in your mother’s womb for around 9 months, His mother went into labour just as your mother went into labour, Jesus was a little baby boy who needed to have His diaper changed, who need to have His nose wiped, the Son of God had to go through puberty and deal with acne and growth spurts and awkwardness and anyone who remembered all of that as Jesus was going through it might look at Him and say, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” But there is a time and a place to say such a thing and clearly saying it right then in the middle of the teaching Jesus is trying to give them is the wrong time and place, it’s a jerk thing to say right at that moment and what’s more their attempt to be reasonable with these words won’t even provide one rung on “a ladder on which to ascend to heaven.” Their words that day are words of death and Jesus’ Words are the Words of Life, the very bread of life, for at the beginning of the Gospel John says of Jesus, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” This Word of God, Jesus, St. John says, “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we [John says] have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” By the gift of faith John and the others could see Jesus, could see the bread of life, could taste and see that the Lord is good and in Him they took their refuge, but these others - these smart alecks trolling Jesus - could not see it because they had no faith even though they had been given the gift as the others had, even though the bread of life was theirs, even though He had been right there in their hand and they had tasted Him with every bite, even though He again stood speaking before them, even though they could see Him with their own eyes … yet they were blind and deaf to Him, like men with no taste in their mouth.
How many people today say they would believe if they could see Jesus, if He spoke to them and they could hear Him for themselves, if they could experience a miracle, if they had been there back in the day to be a first hand witness or something like that? This is a smart aleck thing to say. They may say it in the most sincere or terms, with the most heartfelt tone of voice, they may even believe it a deluded way – but they are misguided and wrong no amount of seeing, touching, tasting and hearing will do it without the work of the Holy Spirit. They may very well respond to such an opportunity just as these men had in our reading today. You see the grace of God, in Christ Jesus, was not limited, they received it like the rest, but they resisted the grace of God and the fruits of this resistance were found in their words, their smart aleck comment about where they thought Jesus was from.
Look around today and these same sorts are your breakers of the first table of the law: They don’t believe in Jesus as God, they will not call upon Him in every trouble, they despise preaching and if they were here today they would be tempted to heckle the preacher if they had a chance and if not out loud then in their heart they would dismiss all of this including Holy Communion as nonsense and hokum … perhaps they would even dismiss Jesus’ teaching concerning the Bread of Life in a holier-than-thou sort of way, in a “I-know-better sort of way,” a “Jesus-if-he-existed-was-not-the-bread-of-heaven-just-a-man sort of way.” If this is you repent and listen to what we believe teach and confess about faith in Christ, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith” … that “On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ,” this is God’s work not yours. Thanks be to God. In this teaching we have a doctrine that lays out for us that God doesn’t expect you to make a ladder for yourself based on your wit or reason, your smarts, rather God provides Jesus for you and for your sustenance, God gives you Himself as heavenly food, the bread of heaven to eat with your ears in His Word and with your mouth in His Supper: humble bread, simple wine. Jesus isn’t even a ladder to heaven that you must climb; you are in His hand as He climbs the ladder in your place. The wood of the ladder isn’t even a ladder at all, the wood of the ladder is really a cross, the cross upon which we all ought to have been hung and where you are hung safely tucked away in Him. And even at the cross Jesus would have to hear the words of smart alecks hurling insults and unkind words, men working hard to be seen making little of Jesus as Jesus died beaten, naked, in a complete state of humility oddly enough as it turns out in John’s Gospel this is the true picture of glory, the crowning achievement of salvation.
One last thought for you, you may think to yourself … well I’m not a smart aleck like these men from today’s Gospel reading, I don’t say things like that about Jesus, I believe in Him, He is the very bread of heaven for me and I’m here right now listening very intently to the sermon, in fact I don’t despise preaching at all; now if that’s you, good for you, however ask yourself have you ever been a smart aleck to someone other than Jesus? Have you trolled someone just to get a rise out of them, to ruin their day, to disrupt a conversation or to make someone look bad in the eyes of others, or just out of spite have you said something publicly best left unsaid or at least said to them privately? With Jesus it’s the first table of the law (those first three commandments) with others, with your neighbour, it’s the second table of the law (commandments four through ten). Remember what the eighth commandment says in the small catechism, “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbour, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.” St. James says, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Remember the forgiveness won by Christ Jesus at the cross forgives even the smart aleck and their restless tongue, trust in that forgiveness and it is yours … however if you are a smart aleck trolling God and your neighbour with no faith in Christ and no trust in His forgiveness, be warned your words will dame you to hell and eternal death as quickly as your actions. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Luther’s Works AE Volume 23, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 6 – 8, Concordia Publishing House 1959, Pg 80.
 Isaiah 53:3
 John 1:1–2
 John 1:14
 Psalm 34:8
 James 3:8–10