Jesus Gives the Bread of Life to Nourish our Souls Eternally
These are the readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
Many Christian churches stress social action. Feeding the hungry is important for Christians. God commands acts of mercy. Sadly, however, many churches offer little more than physical bread, bread that does not last. Bread is necessary for this life, but Jesus wants his Church to focus on offering the Bread of Life (Jesus himself, the Word of God). This Bread nourishes our souls, not just now, but for all eternity.
Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 16:2-15
In what predicament did Israel find itself?
They didn’t have much to eat.
How did the Lord provide for them?
The Lord provided manna (derived from the Hebrew for “What is it?”) from heaven on a daily basis. It was “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31). On this particular day, the Lord also provided quail.
Supplemental First Lesson – Exodus 16:2-20
Why did all Israel grumble against Moses and Aaron?
Israel was in a difficult spot: They had very little to eat.
Whenever we grumble, against whom are we grumbling? (See Exodus 16:8.)
Whenever we grumble, we are grumbling against the Lord. Yet he has put us where we are. He promises to provide for all his children’s needs, and he has been so kind, so often. He forbids grumbling. So why do we grumble?
How did the Lord provide for his grumbling people?
From heaven the Lord daily provided manna. “It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (16:31). On this particular day, the Lord also provided quail.
Traditional Second Lesson – Ephesians 4:17-24
Upon what does Paul insist in these verses?
Paul insists that Christians not live like the “Gentiles” (i.e. the unbelieving world). These people have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s Word and want nothing to do with the Bread of Life.
How are we kept from indulging “in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more”?
Through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word, we are led to put off our old self (the sinful flesh) and put on our new self (the Spirit-led Christian life). But the Spirit only works through the Word of Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 11-13
How would you respond if someone says, “I know God severely punished people long ago, but things changed once Jesus died on the cross”? (See 10:11.)
If someone claims that Old Testament Bible stories about God punishing people do not apply to us, we should tell them that the New Testament says that all those stories are meant to warn us and to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things, as people long ago did.
Can a Christian lose his or her faith? (See 10:12.)
Sadly, yes, a Christian can lose his or her faith. We need this warning whenever we think we are standing firm on our own. When we feel unsure of our future and sorry for our sins, we need the comfort only the gospel gives.
Gospel – John 6:24-35
What kind of bread were the people interested in having from Jesus? What kind of bread did Jesus offer? How did the people misunderstand?
The people were interested in having physical bread. Jesus offered “food that endures to eternal life.” The people still thought that Jesus was offering physical bread that would last forever.
What did Jesus mean when he said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Jesus is talking about faith in him as the Savior from sin. While Jesus also promises to provide for our daily, earthly needs, here he is focusing on the eternal needs of our souls. Through faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life, we can be assured that we will never go spiritually hungry or thirsty.