Jesus Gives the Bread of Life to Unify Us in Faith, Love, and Purpose
These are the readings for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
Christian congregations easily get distracted. Sometimes false teaching or overly strong opinions and the resentment that follows can destroy a church’s unity. Congregations may get caught up in too many projects or programs that divert them from their divine purpose. Only Jesus can overcome such disasters. He gives us his Word, the Bread of Life, to unify us in faith, love, and purpose.
Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 24:3-11
How did the people respond to the words and laws that Moses brought them from the Lord?
They said with one voice that they would do everything the Lord had commanded.
In what two ways was this covenant (agreement) with the Lord sealed?
Moses sealed the covenant by sprinkling the people with the blood of the covenant. The Lord sealed the covenant by eating and drinking with the seventy elders of Israel.
Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Kings 4:42-44
What did the man from Baal Shalishah bring to the prophet Elisha?
The man from Baal Shalishah brought 20 loaves of barley bread, as well as some heads of new grain. We should probably not picture tall loaves of bread, such as we find in our stores, but flatter loaves, like pita bread, large tortillas, or pancakes.
Not only did those few loaves suffice for 100 men, but there was food left over. How did the miracle take place? (See the end of 2 Kings 4:44.)
The miracle took place according to the word of the Lord. “It came because of what the Lord had said, just as the Lord had said.” (The miracle of the Lord’s Supper works the same way–completely by the power of what Jesus said when he first started his sacrament.)
Traditional Second Lesson – Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16
What concept does Paul emphasize in verses 2-7?
Paul emphasizes that Christians are to desire unity and “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” That means being “humble and gentle.” We need to “be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
What special gifts has Jesus given to his Church? What is the ultimate purpose of their work in the Church?
Jesus has given the Church public ministers of the gospel (“pastors and teachers”). The ultimate purpose of their work is that the Church might “reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.”
How is unity attained in the Church?
Unity is reached through a faithful proclamation of the truth, the Word of God, the Bread of Life.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 9:8-11
When we give generously to the Lord and the poor, we often fear we will have less. What does God promise?
The Lord promises that instead of having less when we give to him and the poor, he will make all grace abound to us so that having all that we need, at all times, in all things, we will abound in all good activity.
What is the righteous man like? (See 9:9.)
Quoting Psalm 112:9, Paul says that the righteous man is generous. He scatters his gifts widely to the poor. His righteousness lasts forever. That is, God will never forget the selfless good he has done but will bless him for it forever.
Instead of just enriching us, what is God’s bigger plan?
God’s plan (bigger than just enriching us when we are generous) is to make us able to be even more generous, and then to have thanksgiving to God result from our generosity to others.
Gospel – John 6:1-15
What concern did Jesus have for the great crowds who were following him? What was Philip’s response?
Jesus wanted to feed the crowds. Philip thought that it was the people’s job to find food for themselves.
Once Jesus fed the crowd, miraculously, how did some wrongly react to Jesus’ miracle?
First, Jesus fed the entire crowd (5,000 men plus women and children) with just two fish and five loaves of bread. Some people, seeing this miracle, wanted to make Jesus king by force. Jesus hadn’t come principally to give physical bread though, but spiritual bread—the “Bread of Life.”