“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51). When Jesus says these words to the disciples they do not say “Amen Jesus!” They do not say Jesus, “I believe!” They do not erupt into songs of praise. They do not sing glory to God in the highest. When Jesus tells them that He will feed them the bread of heaven and give them eternal life, what do they do? When the disciples hear this beautiful Gospel of eating and drinking. When they hear these words about rising, feasting, and living forever, instead of bursting into praises they become frustrated and grumble to our Lord, saying, “Jesus, this is a hard saying, who can listen to it!”
Yes, they grumble and challenge their Lord as to how this difficult teaching will fit into their lives, and the lives of others. “This is a hard saying.” Not much has changed in the last 2000 years. The Words of Institution is still what we might call a difficult saying. Back then it was not politically correct to live by the Words of a man – eat the body and blood of the Messiah – and to look toward the forgiveness of sins and resurrection of the dead. And today, not much is radically different. The words of Jesus, hearing Jesus is foolishness to those who are perishing.
For example, if you are asked tomorrow morning at your place of employment how your weekend was – and you answer “I heard and met with my risen Lord Jesus – and feasted on His Heavenly feast of communion – he has granted me the forgiveness of sins – the resurrection of the dead – and immortal life” – I can pretty much guarantee that you – you may get less than a warm reception. You certainly may not be on the fast track for a promotion, and extending your social network around the workplace.
The wisdom of the world does not hang on the precious and Holy Words of our Lord. That is why the workplace is often toilsome and stressful. Because we close our ears and are careless with our mouths, our friendships are often wrought with fractures. Even within our own families, we see that there are those who have turned away from the faith, trying to find their own way, as sheep without a shepherd. In our own communities we see violence, strife, racism, and human cruelty. And violence and warfare rages on in nearly every corner of our world.
Lord to whom shall we go? At times it seems as though our Lord withholds himself, delays his coming. Or maybe it seems as though he has lost the battle. Yet our Lord does not come as a political ruler to fix every instance of social injustice. No, he does something far bigger and better. He comes to feed us, to stoop down to us in our lowly estate and show us mercy, that we may be merciful to one another. He comes as the beloved one, our beloved one, to be love for us, and to pour us out toward each other in love. He comes to bear in His body the brokenness of all creation, to bear our sin and to raise us up to live – to live as he desires us to live. And how does God desire us to live? To whom shall we go? When the disciples turn away from Jesus, He lovingly asks Peter if he is leaving too. Peter replies, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
So to whom shall you go? Nowhere, for in this very sanctuary the risen Lord Jesus Christ grants you the freedom that forgiveness brings – the freedom to be children of heaven. How does he desire us to live. He desires that we live with our ears opened up. Opened to the Lord’s promise that we may be faithful Fathers, Mothers, Sons, and Daughter - faithful workers and friends, who attend to the broken cries of a broken world.
Dearest Christians - you have listened and heard. Like the disciples, we have been turned toward our Lord, and He has made listeners of us, hearers of His heavenly Word. We have been brought here to feast on a Word of peace that the world cannot give us. The world considers you foolish people. Look at you all – gathered at this place – worshipping – standing – kneeling – singing praises to God – anticipating todays communion – the very feast of heaven and immortal life. Yes, you are a foolish bunch.
For you do not have the wisdom of the world but the wisdom of God. For He speaks to you, He baptizes you, He feeds you, and call you out of death to life. And in the foolishness of God’s infinite love, you have infinite wisdom and strength, you have peace and truth. We live by faith not by sight. Like Peter we are turned back to our Lord and say, “Lord to whom shall we go. You, only you Lord, have the Words of Eternal Life.” This is our confession. And God looks down from heaven and beholds us as his dearly beloved and speaks the very first words of creation again, “You may surely eat.” In the Name of Jesus - Amen.