Readings: Joshua 24.1-2a, 14-18 & John 6. 56-69
We’ve heard a lot over this summer about Jesus being the bread of life. With the exception of last week’s welcome break where we celebrated the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we’ve been talking about bread for almost a month. Since the 26th July as we’ve slowly, but surely worked our way through John chapter 6.
So by now, I expect you are all experts on Jesus being the bread of life, the living bread, the bread which came down from heaven, and what Jesus meant when he was teaching his disciples. And if that is the case, I’d be happy to arrange for the Dean to give you a little quiz later.
But if you’re not a bread of life expert, if you’re still unsure, and uncertain what Jesus was actually getting at, then don’t worry because you’re in good company. We hear today that even some of Jesus’ followers are still baffled at what Jesus had been trying to teach them. We hear:
‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it’
Many of His disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’
Our society puts a huge amount of value on the ability to choose. From a very young age, our lives are filled with a myriad of choices to make. What to wear, what to eat, read, watch, listen to, study, work for, believe, live out in our lives.
We spend our energy trying to make for ourselves the ‘perfect life’, making more and more money, being thinner and fitter, more attractive, more fashionable. And buying more and more things that we feel like we ‘need’. For many these are the new gods they serve in their lives. We have a hunger within us, but little we do seems to satisfy for very long. We are still living less then fully alive.
We have great choices to make, but if you’re anything like me, you tend to put off the big decisions for the eternal tomorrow.
Realising it, or not, we share a lot with the people of Israel whom Joshua is addressing.
He has gathered together all the tribes of Israel and is telling them of the choice that is set before them. But, like we do, they have an amnesia when it comes to what is takes to build a good life. They have forgotten the goodness of God, and all the signs and wonders He has shown them and their ancestors, and the promises, the covenant God has made for their future.
Joshua is urging the people to stick with God, but he realises that this isn’t a desirable choice for all. He says, ‘now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve’.
This is the God who brought our fathers out of slavery in Egypt, and who has done great signs among us. But you choose… who will you serve?
Jesus asks those gathered in the synagogue the same, who will you serve?
It is easy to keep our faith and belief in the good times. But what about when things get difficult? What do we do, when we come across something we don’t understand, or don’t accept, what do we do when we have a hunger to fill?
‘Are you going to leave too?’
What happens when life gets difficult, or questions become too much. What happens when the things we try to do to make our lives full, fail and we stay hungry?
Where do we go when we reach that question, ‘what am I doing with my life?’
Jesus said ‘Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live, because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven.’
Christ is the food we need for the hungers we feel. And we are in need of a regular, steady diet of this holy food.
When we choose to follow Christ, and partake in the life of His church, when we share in the body and blood of Christ he lives in us, and our lives are changed. When we choose Christ, we take a step closer to living His life, a life of peace, and love, of charity and compassion, of forgiveness and change, we will live our lives by seeing the world through the love that God has for us.
So what god are you going to serve?
Joshua’s congregation choose God, because they have tasted the life that God offers and have remembered his promises.
Jesus’ disciples choose to continue following Him, because they have tasted the life that God offers, and believe in the new covenant Jesus offers.
And now we have the choice to make. To choose the gods of this world, and perpetual hunger, or to choose Christ, to eat his flesh and drink his blood in communion and to share fully in his life.