Here is a link to the Sunday Service
4th October 2020
Audio Online Service
“I am the Bread of Life”
Today should have been our Communion Service in Church but due to the Coronavirus restrictions – sadly we are not able to meet together in fellowship and worship in the church building.
However, that does not mean that we aren’t still a church.
As important as the building is to us, it is we, the people of God, who are the church.
As difficult as it is for us, we must remain strong in determination and faith, continuing to worship our wonderful God, persistent in prayer, knowing that we may not be able to meet as we used to, for now, but we are still Brothers and Sisters in Christ, grateful to our Loving Saviour for all His many blessings.
We may have to ‘self-isolate’ but God is not in lockdown.
He is with you wherever you are, just as He always was – loving you as much as He ever did.
You can be absolutely sure of that.
Today is also the first day of a trial Audio version of the Sunday Services. I will also print the text version of the Service for those who send these services on to family and friends – as I know some of you do.
I have picked up on comments from a number of you with regard to some zoom-type services which are excellent but can be distracting from the Word and the message. You seem to much prefer to simply sit, close your eyes and listen – so that is what I will endeavour to give you.
As you will know I am not very ‘high tech’ so we will have to see how it goes please let me know what you think. Be kind J.
So why not sit back and join with us, as we worship God together.
Over the past few months we have looked at some of the Miracles of Jesus and the Healings of Jesus. Today is the start of a short series on the “I am” sayings of Jesus.
You know, the “I am the Good Shepherd”, “I am the Vine and you are the Branches” and so on.
Our first look at the ‘I am” sayings of Jesus is to be found in
John 6: verse 26 & 35 where He tells His disciples –
V26 – “I tell you the truth, you are not looking for me because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill” (in reference to the Feeding of the 5,000)
V35 – “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never thirst.”
That was quite a claim wasn’t it!
“I am – the Saviour – the one who God sends to save you” – Jesus is saying – “Come to me and I will give you all you need for a good and happy life.”
Sounds good –
But notice – He doesn’t promise to give us all that we want !” – but rather – ‘all that we need !’
And of course – they are not always the same thing.
We know what we want – but God knows what we really need………
“We want – the things that feed us and give us pleasure.
Short terms wants…
But what we really need – is what only Jesus can give us – the faithful, eternal love and care of God himself.
Long term needs.
“I give you what is good, wholesome and necessary to eternal life” He says.
I am the Bread which gives true life ……… and in all it’s fullness’ –
Those who were there at the time – would have understood the importance of what Jesus was saying – and His comparison to the bread.
Whatever they did – wherever they went – they took with them the ingredients and the means to make bread –
They understood the importance of bread – it was at the very heart of their existence.
So when Jesus said to them – “I am the bread of life” – they would readily have understood that Jesus was saying that He – like bread – was absolutely vital to a good and healthy life.
And so – this text reminds us that as bread is needed to sustain our physical needs – Jesus – the Bread of Life – is needed to sustain our spiritual needs.
With out bread – our bodies wither and die –
Without Jesus – we are spiritually lifeless too.
That’s the usual understanding of this passage.
That’s the ‘on the surface’ kind of meaning – if you like – clear and pretty straightforward.
But as with much of the Bible – when you scratch the surface, it’s surprising what you find underneath – and so – let’s scratch the surface of this particular text and see what we can find.
First of all – we should see this passage in it’s context….
In the previous 2 passages – Jesus had just ‘fed the 5,000’ with 5 small loaves (which were a bit like our bread rolls) – and 2 small fish… from a wee boy’s piece box.
And He had just walked across the water and climbed in to the boat where His followers were waiting for Him.
2 amazing miracles in quick succession.
Amazed and over awed – the people had followed Him – like a group of fans follow their pop-star hero .
And here’s the line which – for me – makes sense of the whole passage – it’s not the reference to the ‘bread’ which catches my attention – it’s verse 26 of our New Testament reading for this morning……. We hear Jesus saying “I tell you the truth – you’re not looking for me because of the miracles I have done – but because of the food I have put into your stomach!” (at the feeding of the 5,000)
In other words – ‘You’re not bothered about the wonderful things which God can do for you and your family – in this life and the next – but you follow me as long as I can give you what you want – food in your stomach !”
Self-interest – where the people said – ‘I’ll follow you as long as you give me what I want……. Just as long as I don’t have to commit myself to anything!!”…
And sadly – aren’t there many who still say that today ? – “Yes, I’d like to be a Christian – just don’t ask me to do too much !!”
Isn’t it self-interest that is at the root of all the food shortages in the world ?
God made enough food to feed everyone – the problem is that some eat too much – leaving too little for others.
Isn’t it self-interest which is at the root of many of the world’s confrontations ?
Countries have enough land – enough resources – but they want more… and so they take it from others.
And isn’t it that same – self-interested attitude which causes friction, even conflict between different groups, different religions – and even within the same religion – between different denominations and churches?
It’s the same thinking that causes friction in places such as Palestine and Israel – in India – and Pakistan.
in our own Northern Ireland.
Intolerance – each side – selfishly confident that they – and only they – are in the right.
Each side using religion as a tool – as a weapon with which to beat the other side.
Like the followers in our text, many are not interested in the wonders of God, but in what He can do for them.
Wasn’t it John F Kennedy who said in his ‘Berlin’ speech – “We must not ask – what can my country do for me – but rather – what can I do for my country”?
Well – to put that into a church context – we must say – the world must say – ‘Not what can my God do for me – but rather – what can I do for my God ?”..
So, as we can see – there is much more going on beneath the surface, between the lines of this passage – than first appears.
In His simple statement “I am the Bread of Life” He is saying to you and to me –
“Let me feed you with all the good things, promises, assurances, marvels and miracles, blessings and so much more – and all you have to do is let me in to your life and all these things are yours. Be faithful to me and you can be absolutely sure that I will be faithful to you.”
An extravagant claim? Well, maybe, but it is more of a promise than a boastful statement.
Allow Him to fill you with His calming, reassuring, life giving presence and your life will never be the same – and that’s a promise.
You will want to ’do what you can for your God’ – because you will see the difference He has made to your life now – and the
wonderful assurance that there IS a place of peace and tranquillity waiting for you when this journey comes to an end – and that’s a promise too!
His divine love will sustain you throughout your life – helping you through the difficult times – uplifting you when all around seems bleak – times that we all face, like the present pandemic. Being filled with His presence gives us a new look on things, a new outlook to be able to deal with whatever life throws at us.
And all this is promised – when you open your mind and your heart and let Him in.
That’s what I pray for each of you –
And I pray for you
In Jesus’ precious name.
Let us Pray –
Holy, Heavenly Father, we bring you our thanks for all your promises to us – promises made – promises kept.
We pray for our world and each person who inhabits it – all created in your image. Bless us all, and our families, as we live out each day with the hope of being blessed with health and happiness.
We pray for the sick and the bereaved, hold them close, we pray, until the light shines once more for them and they can see a way ahead.
Forgiving Father – we pray for your forgiveness for all the times we have faltered on our journey of faith, putting the trappings of the world before you.
We know we are far from perfect but we ask for your guidance and support as we endeavor to put our old ways behind us live that new life that you promise will be ours, when we accept you fully into our lives.
Hear our Prayers, for we bring them to you in the name of your only Son, our only hope, Jesus Christ.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
5 Things you never hear in Church
- Hey! It’s MY turn to sit on the front pew!
- I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon went over by time 25 minutes.
- I love it when we sing hymns I’ve never heard before!
- I going to volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Sunday School class.
- Since we’re all here, let’s start the worship service early!
Faith is a serious business – but it should never be boring!
Food for thought.
AND WE CLOSE OUR SERVICE WITH THE HYMN – WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS – SING ALONG IF YOU WISH.