Friday, August 18, 2006

B, Pent 11 Proper 15 - John 6:51-58 "Love & Wisdom - Eternally Begotten Being" (Part 4 of 5)

Today is the fourth time we visit what it is to be in Christ, and we have been challenged in our faith as we have heard Jesus proclaim his being in the context of John chapter six. We are called to believe Jesus is, that he is the great “I AM” who was sent by God to save us. We are called to believe Jesus is the bread of heaven sent down to give us life. We are called to believe Jesus is still with us, feeding us. His being still prevails, just as he was, and has been, since he was raised from sight in the Ascension about two-thousand years ago. Our work is to continue believing by faith that he is with us, and we do this only by the power of the Holy Spirit sent by God after Jesus’ ascension. Jesus’ being gives us peace as we lie back in his eternal arms of salvation.

But before his body was broken and his blood was shed, Jesus speaks to the Jews and the five-thousand strong Capernaum crowd, which he had miraculously fed with five loaves of bread and two fish, saying…

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

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, “I tell you the truth, 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 him 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 him. 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 forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever. (John 6:51-58)

As we have heard in previous weeks, the crowd was more interested in Jesus, the miracle worker. They were more concerned what he could do in the short term to satisfy their insatiable desires. They wanted Jesus’ doings, rather than his being. So too, we heard, the Jews didn’t believe in his being, which is that of the same “I AM” who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

But we have an advantage over the Jews and the Capernaum crowd in John chapter six. They didn’t get it, they didn’t understand who Jesus was, nor did they see his true being — that he is God the Son sent from the Father to shed his blood for the sins of the world on the cross; that he would break bread and take the cup and command us to eat and drink, believing “this is my body – this is my blood”; that he would die on the cross innocent of sin but carrying humanity’s guilt of sin; and that he would be raised to life again and then be glorified at the right hand of the Father. They didn’t know or foresee these events, nor did they believe Jesus when he forecast them. They expected the Saviour of Israel would be a doer, a mighty warrior like King David.

However, even after the event, unbelief still plays a big part in our lives as Jesus claims us for himself and calls us to persist in his being. But despite our unbelief, which is made plain by our continual deeds of the old Adam living inside each of us, we have a God who has crushed the deadly effects of our sinful nature. Now we can live in justified peace with the Father, as we receive the benefits of the Son’s death and resurrection, through the waking efforts of the Holy Spirit who continually brings us out of our sinful slumber into the unseen reality of Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ being. But this has to be ongoing, because our sinful nature is continually moving us to sin.

The ultimate work Jesus did on the cross happened as a result of Jesus’ nature, which he receives from God the Father. We Christians don’t believe by our own power or strength and nor does Christ operate by his own strength. Jesus himself tells us just this in verse 57 of John 6, “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.

Therefore, we confess the reality of God’s being in the creed. We confess Jesus Christ is “eternally begotten” of the Father; that is, his being — has been forever, is forever, and will be forever being born of the Father. We also confess that the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Father and the Son who together with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified.

To put it another way, Jesus solely exists because of his perfect willingness to be in the Father. Jesus bears the nature of God the Father. He was completely obedient and trusting to be who God the Father sent him to be. And that was: to be the sinless offering for sinful humanity.

So in Jesus Christ there is no unbelief. However, although he was sent from God, he was also born of Mary. Therefore, he was born the same as us, born with the all the abilities to sin, but he remained without sin.

Jesus’ coming actually replaced all doing. This is why the Jews hated him so much, and it’s also why the Jews no longer have a temple today. Jesus did once and for all what the Law and the practise of it in the temple could never do. The Jewish priests and people practised the Law. The Law is the wisdom of God and doing it called for a love of God that was second to none. The problem was and still is — no one could do it other than the one whose being is completely willing in wisdom and love.

This is the nature of Christ. He is the wisdom of God and he is the love of God. His wisdom and love fulfils the Law and all its requirements. And these requirements meant that Jesus was sent to love us in sacrificial death out of complete and willing love for the Father. This is a wisdom that confounds even the wisest person but is given to and believed by the youngest of children and the simplest of people.

Now that we have been baptised into Christ and his being is our inner being, we too have this wisdom and love within us. And it hits head on with the sinful nature that wants us live a deceptive life of disbelief, leading into eternal death. All the powers of evil, work constantly to keep us focused on the doings of our sinful nature, and therefore, not trusting in Christ’s being that will feed us unto eternal life. Our own personal sinful nature always seeks to lead us to believe that Christ is not the real food which gives us eternal life.

Although Jesus carries the nature of God without spot and he carries wisdom and love in all its perfection, he knows that we cannot do it. God didn’t send Jesus to give us a template of works to earn eternal life, nor did he want to crush us with Jesus’ example. Yes! He does call us to imitate the love of Christ, but Jesus is much more than another prophet giving us new laws unable to be followed.

Jesus Christ is more than a messenger or a deliverer of divine food; he is the Divine Food and the Message. He is the good message, or the Good News, sent from heaven to be the real food that gives life to the world. He calls us to trust he is the real food of eternal life and he calls us to rest in the means of receiving his atoning blood and life giving body in his word, “This is my body, this is my blood”.

In the Old Testament reading we heard in Proverbs 9:1-6 that, ‘Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. “Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.

Now hear this passage again as Christ has fulfilled the wisdom of the Old Testament Law and is the living wisdom and love fed to us, giving us his being in our inner beings. Be strengthened in faith, and despite your sin, be led deeper and deeper into trusting the perfect wisdom and love of Jesus Christ, Son of God, our bread of heaven…

Jesus has built his house; with the Holy Spirit he has cut out its seven pillars. He has prepared his meat and mixed his wine; he has also set his table. He has sent out the servants of his word, and he calls from the highest point of the city. “Let all who are simple come in here!” he says to those who lack judgment. “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of my understanding, my forgiveness, my wisdom, my love, and my peace.

Jesus is the bread of heaven. His body is real food, his blood is real food. Feast on his love, feast on his wisdom, and let the God of love and all wisdom be in us and give life to our being. Amen.