Reflections for the Week of Sunday, August 12, 2018 Twelfth after Pentecost

Gospel: John 6.35,41-51: Jesus says, “I am the bread of life that came down from heaven.” He says no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. The ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness––a sort of bread from heaven––but they died and did not enter the Promised Land. But Jesus says, “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Many people think that the Christian life is about being ’good’. We could call this moralism. Actually Christianity is more about whom we worship. The problem that occurred most commonly in the Old Testament was worshiping false gods, idolatry. The first two commandments are: you shall have no other gods before Me, and you shall not make and worship idols. Idols can be defined as anything one worships before (ahead of) God. That can include graven images, persons, pleasures, comfort, power, money, security, and most commonly of all, oneself. Our greatest temptation is to put yourself before God, and to seek to please oneself and obey oneself before God. The Old Testament is full of the Israelites worshiping false gods––the Baals, Astarte, the ‘Queen of heaven’, the gods of the surrounding nations. Jesus is saying in today’s text that He is the God who is to be worshiped. It is He who is the means of life, the spiritual food that came down from heaven (God’s dimension) which we need in order to have true life, eternal life. We need to consume Him to satisfy our spiritual hunger––and nothing else will satisfy. At the Last Supper Jesus said the bread He blessed and broke and offered to His disciples represented His body which He was offering as a sacrifice for them, and it and  the cup of wine, which represented His blood, were to inaugurate a new covenant with God. The old covenants included those of Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. Jeremiah, speaking for God, had promised a new covenant whose law would be written in people’s hearts (Jer 31.31-34), and Ezekiel had promised a new covenant along with new hearts (Ezek 36.25-28). The meaning of this is that Jesus will give His Spirit to dwell within His believers and the Spirit will give them the desire and the power to follow Jesus and please Him by making Him the Lord and Savior of one’s life (Rm 8.1-17). To walk in the Spirit is to be under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus rather than the old Mosaic law of sin and death which condemns people for not keeping it perfectly. The Law of Christ (Gal 6.2) is kept because the Spirit empowers believers to keep it and it is a new life and a law of mercy, justice, forgiveness, and love. It is given to those whose sins have been forgiven in the new exodus to a restored relationship with God, and who love the Lord and wish to live lives pleasing to Him. It means His people are members of His new covenant family, adopted by God, and assured of eternal life. It is not about being good (primarily), but about loving and worshiping Jesus Christ, the one true God. But when one does this, one loves one’s neighbor and this means fulfilling the law (Rm 13.8-10). So to believe in the Lord Jesus, that He and God are one (Jn 10.30), is to be a member of God’s covenant family, and this means to have the Spirit of Jesus dwelling within one to write the law  on our hearts so we wish to keep it and are strengthened by consuming the Holy Eucharist often which, with the Spirit, empowers believers to worship Jesus and die to oneself and follow Him.

Memory Verse: I am the bread of life (Jn 6.48).

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