Real Food – Sermon – Rev. Alex Moir – 4 July 2021

communion cup and broken bread

Communion Worship Service

Reminder: As this is the first Sunday of the month, we will be observing the Lord’s Table at the end of the service. If you are participating, be sure to have bread and juice ready. Even though we know that we will not be taking part at the exact same time, we ask you to use your imagination and place yourself in the sanctuary among us. We look so forward to the day we will no longer have to use our imaginations!

WELCOME

Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)

Call to Worship

“But I am among you as one who serves …”

— Luke 22:27b

Prayer

It is because of Your Son’s service that we gather before You this day, gracious Father.  We have a sense ourselves that His calling to service is ours as well.  Deepen within us your way … in the praising of Your name, the breaking of the bread and the taking of the cup.  In the name of the Gentle Shepherd, Jesus, we pray … amen.

Song

Today's Message: Real Food

Call to Worship: John 6: 52-59

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

We open our time this morning with a question that certainly gets our attention.  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day ask (as recorded for us in John 6), “How can this man give us his flesh to eat (v. 52)?”  How indeed, since they had long ago lost any shred of mysticism due to over doing it on the “respect for Yahweh’s name” side.  And let us be assured that this discomfort (see “I am the bread of life” v. 35) will be repeated in the early days of the church when people who happened to walk by a house where a “gathering” was taking place would overhear the words of the Lord’s Supper … “take, eat this is my body” and assume they have stumbled upon some cannibal ritual. 

Beyond the potential for misunderstanding lies the true focus of Jesus’ teaching.  He knows we settle for whole food, but He wants to give us real food, such that will nourish us in the deepest possible way.  Making our way through this passage, verse by verse, gives us a new understanding of the kind of nourishment we most need in life.

“I tell you the truth,
unless you’ve eaten the flesh of the Son of Man
and drank his blood, you have no life in you.”

— Luke 6:53

A brief look at the shocking language of this passage reveals that the two verbs (to eat, to drink) are in what we call the aorist tense, which suggests a punctiliar meaning … a fancy way of saying that each verb refers to a once-for-all action in the past when the eating and drinking took place.  We probably need to mention this since all of us reading this passage about Jesus’ body and blood might assume that it’s about the Lord’s Supper.  If we accept the premise that the grammar may be suggesting, then what we have here is a new teaching on Jesus’ part … that life begins with that glorious event which we call conversion. 

No doubt some of you may be able to point to a specific time when this “eating and drinking” happened … perhaps others not so much.  But all of us who follow Christ can recall a state in our lives when we relied on our own resources to live this life.  Then there came a point when we realized the existence of a God who loves us … and life has never been the same!  Now we live in a glorious partnership which has made an impact on every facet of life.  The apostle Paul, reflecting on the change in his own life, expressed it this way;

“The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.”

— Galatians 2:20b)

The second subject that Jesus addresses in explaining this new life involves not just the “what” that we are ingesting or eating but the “how”:

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up at the last day.”

— Luke 6:54

Our attention in this verse might be drawn to the promise of eternal life, as well it should.  But we must not overlook the deep meaning reflected in the verbs themselves.  Those gifted and devoted individuals who make studying scripture their livelihood suggest to us that these words do not reveal simple eating and drinking that we do every day … rather, there is a gusto and a joy expressed in these words.  

Hear the testimony of Prof. Leon Morris …

“The word for “eat” (v. 54) is different from that used previously … (It) properly applies to somewhat noisy feeding (like crunch or munch).  There is often the notion of eating with enjoyment (so in Matthew 24:38).  It is a startling word in this context …”

Perhaps the writer of our gospel meant it to be so.  As we view our troubled world, we see that joy and happiness are elusive and yet so desperately needed.  But the things we pursue to bring joy and happiness aren’t effective.  Citing the data that have been collected, tracking the “happiness quotient” that has been used as a measurement for life satisfaction over the past decades, author Robert Lane suggests in his book “The Loss of Happiness in Market Economies”

“We are still materialists at heart … but the heart is unfulfilled.”

Contrast the above statement with the lyrics to an old gospel hymn:

“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought,
since Jesus came into my heart!”

Ingesting the way and person of Jesus, symbolized by the “eating and drinking” of his body and blood, is not just a way of securing our future beyond this life … it allows us to live life with purpose and gusto in the present.

The third area of interest in Jesus’ teaching has to do with the content of verses 55 and 56 which led us to include this passage in this series on “The Real Thing” …

“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me, and I in him.”

The word translated “real” here is the familiar Greek word, usually translated “true.”  All of us are looking for deep truth … the kind of truth that will provide purpose and joy in life.  But the word can also mean “genuine.”  We can all attest to the importance of genuineness in our lives from the tools we use to the musical instruments we play to the clothes we wear.  But to partake of “genuine” food and drink in this case refers to those things that sustain life beyond a simple biological understanding.  This word can also mean “constant” which might suggest to us that we can depend on the Holy Spirit as a steady source of guidance, truth and encouragement in our lives.  Finally, in v. 56, we see the term that is so important in the gospel of John.  Jesus promises to remain in us as we do so in Him.  This bit of teaching reminds us of the importance of relationships and how fleeting they often turn out to be.  We enjoy a wonderful friendship for a while but at some point, distance, new experiences or changes in family life take us away from those who are precious in our lives.  Jesus promises to be the constant in life … and we all know that this happens even when we aren’t as faithful as we should.

Finally, our message today closes with a promise, seen in v. 57:

“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father,
so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”

Once again, Jesus is referring to true life here, the cry of many and the plea of the desperate prayer.  Musician Waylon Jennings writes about a “successful” couple in one of his most popular songs:

“We’ve been so busy keepin’ up with the Joneses’
four car garage and we’re still adding on.
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of life.”

Maybe it’s time for you as well.  The media advertisements would have us think that all we lack is the latest cell phone, an investment strategy from the cleverest of companies or the broadest choices of entertainment possible.  Deep in our hearts, we all know better.  As the Trappist monk Thomas Merton suggested decades ago, we are in search of meaning in life.  Jesus invites us to “feed on him” for a life of partnership, forgiveness and purpose.  As Jesus Himself says in the verse 58, “This is the bread that came down from heaven.”  Eat it … and be thankful!

Prayer

Gracious Father, as we listen to these astounding words from Jesus announcing the possibility of abundant life, we remember again the high price paid for this great gift.  Once again, we praise You, for the ingenious nature of Your plan and for the courage of Jesus to bear in His own body the punishment that has assured our freedom.

As we listen to this wonderful story and hear the objections of many in Jesus’ day, we are reminded of the caution that sometimes lessens the impact of Your word on our lives.  Forgive us for our hesitancy and our habit of relying on things that do not compare with the power of the way of Jesus.  Set us on a new path in seeking the nourishment for life in the right place and from the right source.

Finally, our sustaining God, we ask that You may once again meet the varied needs represented in this congregation, extending to those who may find themselves within the broadcast coverage of this worship time today.  We pray through the miracle of Your Spirit that You may tailor the message of this day to fit the needs of those in need of real nourishment.  We pray these things in the name of the One called “the bread of life”, our Master and Lord … amen.  

Communion

Invitation to the Table

You who truly and earnestly repent of your sins, who have love and concern for your neighbours, who intend to lead a new life, following the commandment of God by walking in holy ways … draw near with reverence, faith and thanksgiving and take the Supper of the Lord to your comfort.

Sharing of the Bread

Hear Paul’s words …

The Lord Jesus, on the same night He was betrayed took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body, given for you.”

Prayer for the Bread

As we need everyday sustenance for life, so we willingly take this bread, provided for us by Christ’s sacrifice.  We do so in His triumphant name … amen.

Eat this bread and be thankful!

Sharing of the Cup

In the same manner also, He took the cup saying; “This cup is the new agreement in my blood.  Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.”

Prayer for the Cup

How appropriate, our Father, that the contents of that cup, often used to treat painful wounds, would represent the effective treatment for our wounds of the spirit.  As those cured, we give thanks … in the name of the wounded healer himself, amen.

Drink from this cup … and be thankful!

Song

Benediction

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.  And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” 

— Malachi 4:2