Saturday, August 22, 2009

Snacking on Jesus

Here's the sermon for today, y'all.
Hope we can get it up for you to listen to:

Snacking on Jesus

John 6:56-69 (English Standard Version)

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

I: introduction

A father came home from a long day at work. He said to his wife “I’ve had a terrible day. If you have any bad news, keep it to yourself.” So his wife replied “the good news is that today three of our four children didn’t break an arm.”

A: objectives

Today we’re going to talk about the real Good News.

That Good News is what Jesus gives us and what that Gift means.

That’s what we’re going to talk about today and this week,

To show we know, we’re going to tell the Good News to someone who is lead to listen.

We need to talk about and understand the Good News

so that we can tell other people.

So that we may be made the lips of God, the nudge of God

the hands of God, feeding the news of the Gift of Jesus to those who are ready to eat.

B: about Jesus

question: who gives us life? who creates us?

might be a trick

is in the passage in John

is also in Isaiah (40:28 The Lord is the creator of the ends of the earth)

not Jesus

what does Jesus gives us?

notice I didn’t say that the Gift of Jesus went to the hungry

or the needy

because we’re all hungry and needy

I said that the Gif t of Jesus goes to those who are ready to eat.

Not those who are hungry

but those who are ready.

Have you ever been to a restaurant with someone

who said they were hungry

but then couldn’t pick anything?

We know folks who live life like it’s a restaurant.

This job doesn’t taste good,

this church doesn’t smell right,

this city doesn’t sit well on the stomach,

this religion is too hot,

this spouse has gone stale

The Gift of Jesus just cannot be for them – because they are not ready. Jesus says, just before our verse for the day that “no one can come to me unless that person is called by the Father who sent me.” These hungry folks are just making too much noise to hear that call. One day they will be ready – and it’s our job to love them like they are.

No, the gift of Jesus is for those who are ready to take it.

I’m going to confess now that I really like ancient languages and translating and the craft of writing. You can expect when I’m up here that I’m going to make some reference to the Greek version of what our verse is for the day. Today is no different.

In a lot of the translations of this part of John you’ll see the word “eat” several times. Unfortunately, those “eats” are really two words. One of the reasons I picked the ESV is because they translated the two words differently, kind of – eat and feed.

The first eat is phagein. That means “to eat.” Jesus uses “phagein” to talk about the Israelites who were wandering in the desert – kind of like our hungry customers, right? Lost in the desert, with nothing to sustain them except the manna from God.

Well they didn’t eat the manna because they wanted to or they liked it

but because they were hungry.

God wasn’t giving them a feast.

He wasn’t making them happy.

He was sustaining them.

He was teaching them – sometimes pain is the best teacher and God acknowledges this in Isaiah 48:10 -- See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

But Jesus is something more.

II: Jesus as meme

33 years ago, a famous fundamentalist evangelical atheist (did you know those folks existed? you may not be interested in them but they sure are interested in you) you may have heard of named Richard Dawkins came up with the idea of a cultural gene – just like we inherit traits through our genes, Dawkins figured that we inherit ideas through cultural genes – that he called “memes”

Memes, he said, are ideas that take a hold of us – of humanity – get inside us and change us. Memes are, in fact, what shape our world.

Ideas, of course, are spread through language. Tongues and words.

I guess it’s a good thing for Dawkins’s career that he’s a fundamentalist evangelical atheist – otherwise he might have read that part of the Bible that explains, defines, and proves the existence of memes.

You know the part, where Jesus is the Word and through Him all things are created? And then the part where He lives inside all of us, shaping this world and the next to come?

Well we can thank Mr. Dawkins for his funny quasi-Greek word. We can certainly pray for him – but it’s important that we understand that Dawkins’ meme precisely describes how Jesus works.

Jesus is the first idea

He gets passed from person to person

changing the world.

III: the gift of Jesus

Which brings us back to the gift of Jesus.

Notice I say we’re the ones passing Him around. Sure God & Jesus could just appear to everyone and save us all – but then what’s the point of creation? No, our real opportunity to shine for God – to make ourselves worth being created – is when we can share the gift of Jesus with each other

the gift that you can’t get when you’re hungry

only when you’re ready.

I talked about that first word “phagein.”

Now I want to talk about the second word “trogo.”

Trogo doesn’t mean “to eat” – especially not when you’re hungry.

Trogo means “to munch,” “to masticate,” “to snack.”

That is, it’s not eating for sustenance but for enjoyment.

It’s not eating manna,

it’s eating at the banquet table.

Just like He gave manna to the wandering, hungry Israelites,

God gives us life through the Spirit.

But like the wedding banquet

where his first miracle was to create the finest wine,

Jesus gives us the enjoyment of life

the fulfillment of life.

Jesus says over and over he is the bridegroom and we are at his party.

Like Sherlock Holmes says, so many things are right in front of us that we choose not to see.

Jesus isn’t being metaphoric,

the Gospels aren’t some obscure poem we’ve got to pick apart.

No, it’s right there, plain as the mimetics that point to the life of Jesus that Richard Dawkins won’t acknowledge,

Jesus makes our lives worth living

by giving us the feast of a lifetime

and life eternal through his body and blood

– that is, through his life.

We don’t need Jesus to be alive,

to breathe, to walk, to have a heart that beats,

but Jesus gives us the only reason to love our lives.

Jesus is not what makes our life

but what makes our life worth living.

Now a lot of the disciples had a problem with this.

In fact some of them got up and left Jesus, never to come back.

Jesus knew this was going to happen – in fact, he knew that the idea of snacking on him was a hard piece of knowledge to swallow.

He knew most folks would have to ruminate on it for a while. That’s why the other use of the word “trogo” means what a cow does to its cud – chew and chew and chew.

But if we keep Jesus always in our mouths,

we can be like Peter,

who says “yes Lord, we will stay with you –

because where else would we go?”

When you share the Good News this week

with someone who is ready to listen

tell them the Bread of Life does not sustain them

it improves them.

tell them that the reason to follow Jesus isn’t to live

but to love living.

tell them most of all that God loves them

and so do you.

Pray with me:

Creator God,

we thank you for the Gift of Jesus

which is not life

but the fulfillment of life

we pray that each day

we may live the life you gave us

knowing that Jesus

turns all sorrow

to joy.


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