The gospel lesson from John begins where we left off last Sunday with Jesus explaining to his disciples that only by eating his flesh and drinking his blood are they able to enter into him and him into them. In the same way that the God, the Father, gives him life and he lives because of the Father so anyone who makes a meal of Jesus lives because of him, Bread from heaven…Whoever eats this Bread will live always.
Jesus invited his disciples to make a meal of him and many of those who were following him had problems with his words. They understood him to mean literally eating his flesh and drinking his blood. This repulsed them because the Law given to the Moses by God strictly prohibited drinking blood from any animal and eating human flesh just wasn’t right. So you can understand how people might have been put off by Jesus’ words.
When you hear these words what comes into your mind? As you hear these words of Jesus again what words or phrases speak to you? For me it was, “…the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me.” How can we begin to “make a meal of Jesus?”
If we take what Jesus is saying literally it is “tough teaching, too tough to swallow.” I don’t think he meant for us to take his words literally especially after hearing his explanation in verses 61-65, “The Spirit can make life…Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making.”
So we make a meal of Jesus spiritually? How do we do that? Friends, in the words of Jesus, “…no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father.” It’s God’s grace that allows us to make a meal of Jesus.
And it’s only by hearing God’s word read again and again and again that we are able to be fed with the Bread of heaven. It’s only when we hear, meditate, pray, and contemplate the Word that we are truly fed by the body of Christ.
I’m in the process of finishing a book that I started a year ago and just this week picked up again. I realized that I had never finished it. It’s called “Eat This Book” by Eugene Petersen. What I read this week was about how we can make a meal of the Word of God.
I would imagine that everybody here this morning has a Bible in their homes. Maybe you have more than one. And I suppose that you pick it up and read it every day. Now, let me ask you, do you read it silently or do you read it out loud so you can hear the words echoing off the walls, so you can hear the different inflections and different nuances?
The Israelites only heard the word God spoken. Even in Jesus’ day most of those who went to the meeting place to worship didn’t read a Bible or from the scroll, they heard the Word read. And it was through the reading and hearing the Word that it came alive and became part of them. The Word went into them and they were fed by God.
It’s through the hearing of the Word that we are fed. It’s, as Jesus said, a Spirit-filled Spirit-led experience.
So to make a meal of Jesus we have to hear with our ears the Word read. And it’s probably not enough to hear it just once but we need to hear it multiple times in order for the particular Message God has for us to sink in and nourish our souls.
What do you think? When you hear the Word read do you hear the voices of those saints who have gone on before us, the ones who are gathered in heaven watching us and cheering us on as we make a meal of the Word, Jesus the Christ?
Before we can fight the battle against evil that Paul talks about in his letter to the Ephesians we have to be strengthened by eating the Bread of heaven. We have to take in the Word and make it a part of us. And it’s only through God’s grace through faith that we are able to do that.
I asked you last Sunday what you would ask God for if you could have anything. I pray that you ask him to fill your body and soul with his Word. Because if you are filled with Jesus then you have everything you could ever want, love, peace, forgiveness, quietness, everything.
Friends, make a meal of Jesus and be fed by his Spirit. God loves you and so do I. Thanks be to God. Amen.