Scripture/Sermon of the Day. August 1, 2021

Scripture Reading: John 6:24-35. Common English Bible.

24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Bread of life
26 Jesus replied, “I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. 27 Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Human One[a] will give you. God the Father has confirmed him as his agent to give life.”
28 They asked, “What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires?”
29 Jesus replied, “This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent.”
30 They asked, “What miraculous sign will you do, that we can see and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”[b]
32 Jesus told them, “I assure you, it wasn’t Moses who gave the bread from heaven to you, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 They said, “Sir,[c] give us this bread all the time!”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Reflection/Sermon:

I. This reading is a fragment from Chapter Six of the Gospel of John. The theme of the chapter is food, which Jesus gives away to five thousand people. He fed 5000 people for free! He went to a mountain and a crowd followed him there because they were impressed with all the people he was healing. And then he gives them free food. So the people started talking among themselves, saying: “This man Jesus gives us free health-care and free food. We must capture him and force him to be our king!” So they tried to catch Jesus but he escaped and hid somewhere on the mountain.
This is the second time a mob tried to capture Jesus. The first was to throw him off a cliff, and now to make him king. One thing you can say about Jesus: people were not indifferent to him. They either wanted to kill him or own him.

II. Where he really got in trouble is when he was teaching people. He told people that God loved them. It sounds nice, but when the religious leaders heard it they panicked . “You can’t tell people God loves them like that! People have to earn God’s love. And you earn God’s love by coming to the Temple and buying all the animals we say you have to sacrifice — and then God will forgive and love you. But you can’t tell people God’s love is free! We’d go out of business!”
So when Jesus forgave people the religious leaders said he committed blasphemy against God — which was a crime punishable by death. Now they had a reason to kill him.
Jesus told people God loved and forgave them just as they were. Almost two thousand years later, in 1835, a woman named Charlotte Elliot wrote a hymn that said the same thing Jesus did, that God loves us just as we are. We don’t have to kill goats and pigeons for God to love us. We don’t have to do anything.

III. So Jesus fed and healed and forgave people for free, and chapter seven begins with a warning that now religious and business decided they had to kill Jesus. Because CEO’s and High Priests and politicians can’t make millions of dollars if you give people forgiveness, healthcare, and food FOR FREE.
Some leaders stood up and yelled: that’s Socialism!

IV. I wish Jesus could be here now (which he is — if you believe that he lives through us). What would he say if he saw what millions of people who call themselves his followers are doing now?
Jesus said give to the poor. If they can’t afford something — don’t make them pay. Many people today who call themselves Christians say no we can’t do that because that’s Socialism. They don’t want the government, for example, to pay for daycare. OK, fine. But then who will pay? Poor people have children and they need to work — so who will take care of their children while they work. If you don’t want the government to do it, will you pay their daycare bills?
Another thing. Jesus was against violence. He did not carry a weapon and he told those who were with him not to use theirs. And yet many people who say they follow him are some of the most violent, angry, and heavily armed people on earth. I wish Jesus were here in person so he could speak to this phenomenon of angry, heavily armed “Christians.” If Jesus were here today and told Christians to get rid of their guns, do you know what would happen? They’d shoot him!

V. The last straw came when Jesus said he’d feed people forever. For free. Jesus told people that he was food — “Bread” — and that they’d need to eat his body and then drink his blood. Many disciples stopped following Jesus because they took him literally — they thought he planned to sacrifice himself and they’d need to literally eat him.
But the food Jesus was talking about was to do God’s will — which is to practice love in every situation. Everything Jesus did and taught can be reduced to that one command: practice love in every situation. If we did that, Jesus said, emotionally and spiritually, we would never be hungry again.