Sermon 8.5.18 Pentecost 11

John 6:24-3                                                                                                                                                                                                  8/5/18
Rev. Kenneth Frey                                                                                                                                                                             Pentecost 11
 
John 6:24-35 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.  25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”  28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”  35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
 
What are you hungry for?
1.  When our appetite is perverted
2.  When we have a right appetite
 
Do you like to shop at Woodman’s?  It’s our store of choice just because it is usually cheaper than other places.  But it’s big.  The bread aisle itself must be at least 50 feet long.  And there are all kinds of bread.  White bread, wheat bread and rye bread.  Twelve grain breads, nine grain breads and 3 grain breads.  There are hard rolls, French bread and sour dough rolls.  There are hamburger buns and hot dog buns, bagels and muffins.  And that’s just on one side.  On the other side are donuts and sweet rolls of all kinds. I hope you had breakfast this morning.  Am I making you hungry? What are you hungry for? 
Sometimes we are hungry for the wrong thing.  Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  Some people spend a lot of money on lottery tickets or on the slots.  They want to get something for nothing.  That’s what the people in our text wanted.  Jesus fed thousands of people with practically nothing.  They wanted more free food from Jesus and they were willing to chase him around Galilee to get it.
If someone were to analyze our prayers, would they conclude that this is also what we want from Jesus?  We want him to move us into a nice house or clear off our debt or get us a better car.  We want him to make us prettier, smarter, slimmer.  In general, we want Jesus to make our lives easier. 
Just like the crowds in our text, we work for food that spoils.  Think of how much time you put in to choosing a new computer or a new lawn mower or a college to attend.  We work so hard to get ahead financially and materially that we human beings often slip into thinking that food and prosperity are the primary sources of our happiness.  Has Satan been successful in getting us to think that since we’re not in heaven yet, we might as well join the world in trying to fill up our lives with more stuff and more pleasures?  Are we working for food that spoils?
A pastor named Abrosious Neumann lived at the same time as Martin Luther and lamented the spiritual state of his people.  One of his people told him, “The truth is, pastor, that if you were to tap a keg of beer in church and call us to enjoy it, we would be glad to come.”  When Neumann told this to Luther, Luther responded, “People love God, but only as lice love a beggar:  to devour him and suck his blood.” 
What are you hungry for?  We need to look carefully at what we are hungry for in life because if our appetite is wrong, our diet will be wrong, too.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Because they had the wrong appetite, they weren’t eating right.  They thought they were full of goodness, but it was a false idea. 
People were testing some new food.  One was eating a roast beef sandwich, another one had turkey and another had BLT.  They all thought it tasted good, but the noticed the texture was different.  What they didn’t know was that the salesman was giving them sawdust flavored to taste like food.  If they ate these regularly, they would die of starvation even though they were full.
If our appetite is wrong, we will have the wrong diet.  If our appetite is for stuff and fun, we will feast on things that bring us stuff and fun.  Work will become a higher priority than God’s Word, church and even family. 
Have you ever heard of Thomas Paar?  He is buried in Westminster Abbey along  with English kings and the like of Gearge Fredrick Handel, Issack Newton and Charles Dickens.  So what did Thomas Paar do to gain such an honor?  His claim to fame is that he lived to be 152 years old.  His life spanned the reign of ten monarchs.  Born the same year as Martin Luther, 1483, he lived until 1635.  King Charles I of England was so impressed that he had the old man buried at Westminster Abbey.  But King Charles may have been responsible for his death.  The old man died only a few weeks after coming to see the king.  Charles had insisted that the old man join him at dinner, eating royal food.  It is believed that the food was too rich for Mr. Paar and that’s what killed him. 
The wrong diet can lead to death.  If our appetite is wrong and we are feasting on the things and pleasures of this life, we can easily be killing our faith. 
Author George Orwell once described human nature this way:  He wrote of a wasp that was sucking a spot of jam on his plate, when he took a butter knife and cut the insect in half.  The wasp paid no attention, though.  It went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed body.  Only when he tried to fly away did he realize what had happened to him.
Many people have a lot in common with that wasp.  It seems the majority of people in life could care less about spiritual things.  They refuse to take such things seriously.  They are too focused on greed and pleasure unaware that they are already dead as they selfishly continue to consume life’s sweetness. 
So we go back to the question, “What are you hungry for?”  Jesus said, Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.  The food industry spends a lot on marketing.  It’s all intended to make you hunger for their products.  Jesus was also trying to lead people to hunger for what he offered because what he offered had God’s seal of approval. 
We often buy brand names because the brand can be a stamp of approval that it’s high quality.  Jesus just fed thousands of people with practically nothing.  This and other miracles was God’s stamp of approval on Jesus.  Jesus truly is the Bread of life.  Jesus wanted them to have an appetite for that, to hunger for righteousness.
“After 26 years in a good marriage and after raising three children to adulthood and self-sufficiency, Penelope couldn’t explain the sense of emptiness she was feeling.  She had a fruitful life and could think of nothing specific that she lacked.  She and her husband, Roger, had cone quite well and were living comfortably.  Still Penelope had a vague, undefined sense of dissatisfaction.  She craved something more, but she couldn’t put her finger on what it was.
“One day Penelope succumbed to her friend Gloria’s weekly invitation to attend a women’s Bible study. . . Someone read, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ (Matthew 5:6).  Penelope was startled.  Is that what her problem was?  Is that why she felt so empty . . . ?  Was she hungering and thirsting after righteousness?  Would that fill her?
“In this passage . . . Jesus makes the remarkable claim that He is bread – not just any bread, but the bread of God that comes down from heaven.   Moreover, Jesus is the bread that gives life to the world in such a way that those who eat it will never hunger again.  To receive Jesus by faith means to receive sustenance for life, to receive nourishment for our souls.  We are satisfied, satiated, with what is really necessary for life.  We are filled with good food, food from heaven. . . .
“Because of this sense of something lacking, Penelope heard the Beatitude, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ as good news.  What is truly filling, truly satisfying, is the righteousness of Christ.  He is the Bread of life.” (Jacob Preus, Just Words, pp. 71, 73,75) Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
We want to feast on him by faith.  We want to take as much of Jesus into our lives as we can.  How do we do that?  By being here in church for worship, yes, but also by making use of other opportunities for spiritual growth.  In September a full slate of Bible Classes will be available.  One hour of worship a week was never intended to be any Christians full diet of God’s Word.  Worship is more like the dessert; Bible study is the meat and potatoes.  You can also make use of the church library for Christian home study and devotions. 
As a church, we are here to help and encourage each other on the way to heaven.  Think of others, especially your children.  Making Bible study a priority will encourage others, especially your children to feed regularly on the Bread of Life. 
Sometimes at a restaurant, the waiter will bring a basket of bread to the table when you sit down.  And people are eager to eat that warm, yummy bread.  But when the main course comes, they don’t eat the bread anymore.  And they don’t take it home in a doggy bag.  We are tempted to treat Christ, the Bread of life, that way.  At first we welcome him gladly but then something better comes along and we forget Jesus. 
Today God wants us to check our diet.  Are we dining on what endures or have we become addicted to junk that threatens to starve our soul of salvation?  What are you hungry for?  May we hunger for righteousness.  May we feed on the Bread of life that satisfies for eternity and may we diet on God’s Word every day.