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Saturday - 4:30 pm Sunday - 8:00 am & 10:30 am Christian Education Sunday - 9:15 am


Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68b

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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Pentecost 13 – August 19, 2018
Text:            John 6:51-69
Theme:         Jesus is Offensive!

 

        We live in an age of what we decide is reasonable.  Everything has to be reasonable in our minds, and if it is not, we are advised to dismiss it as foolishness or fantasy.  The Church is most certainly not immune to this.  We are expected now to change the teachings of the Bible to be reasonable; reasonable according to people who are supposedly smarter than we poor faith-bound creatures.  Most of us grew up in what we now know was the bliss of people simply accepting the teachings of the Church as correct. Now we live in quite the opposite reality.  We have a tendency to speak of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as though it was always that way, but in reality, that time in this country was really just a blip on the radar.  What we experience today is really far more like how it has always been.  Jesus is offensive to the world.

        Jesus is not reasonable according to human logic, and that is why he is offensive.  If he were reasonable, you wouldn’t need his gift of faith.  That is now, and always has been, the mark of the redeemed.  The redeemed are not the ones who can best prove Jesus, but rather the ones who are able to believe and are not offended in spite of the lack of hard evidence that Jesus is who he says he is.  Because we have had faith given to us, we can gladly acquiesce to his demand that we believe.

        In the Gospel for today, the people were excited about having someone who could provide earthly food for them on an on-demand basis.  That was like the stories they had heard passed down through the generations about the Exodus from Egypt.  How cool is it to have manna rain down from heaven in the morning and quail wander into your yard at night?  Although you would probably get sick of bread and quail, now Jesus is able to multiply fish and loaves!  So, if he can do that, he can multiply anything, right?  Hey Jesus!  I have a couple of filet mignons and a Portillo’s Chocolate cake for you to multiply!  But then Jesus started talking about spiritual stuff. And that spiritual stuff is offensive to those who have no faith.

        We once had a kid go with us to a National Youth Gathering who was not a member of the church.  In fact, she was not even Christian.  She claimed, at the time, to be Wiccan. But she came to Big House for the fellowship and free dinner and when we began talking about the National Youth Gathering, she wanted to go with us, so we said, “Sure!  Come along!”  She was fine at first because for the first few days we were sight-seeing. But as the gathering started with the worship and the Bible studies, she became more and more agitated.  Eventually she broke down and said through tears, “I just didn’t know that there would be this much Jesus stuff!”  Of course the kids laughed because they thought it was obvious that there would primarily be “Jesus stuff,” at a Christian youth gathering, but I got it.  She was experiencing something similar to being dropped off in a foreign country where you don’t know the language or the customs but everyone treats you like you should.  See, in our enthusiasm at having a non-Christian along with us, where she could be immersed in the Word and the Holy Spirit would have ample opportunity to create faith in her, we had forgotten that faith is a frightening proposition for unbelievers.  We were just trying to be inclusive and treat her like one of the gang, but in so doing, we were speaking a language she did not understand and demanding things of her that she could not produce.

        To an unbeliever who has no faith, the demands of Christianity are ludicrous!  Oh yes, you are the bread of life and now I will never hunger or thirst again.  What in the world is that supposed to mean?  All I wanted was for you to multiply my filet mignons and Portillo’s chocolate cake for heaven’s sake.

        “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

        Um, no thanks Jesus.  I’m just not into cannibalism.  You’re just weird.  And many of them walked away that day because Jesus had revealed the truth to them about who he was.  He was not just a bread-king.  He was the Messiah.  Not the Messiah they were looking for.  The Messiah they were looking for looked much more like our President Trump.  Someone who promises to make Israel great again, throw out the Romans and close the borders.  They could get behind a Messiah who would improve their economic lifestyle and bring racial and cultural purity back to their society.  But this guy, Jesus, was weird.  No thanks.

        So Jesus looked at the disciples and said,

        “’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 of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life…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?’”

        Jesus knew that only faith can move someone to follow him.  He did not offer a persuasive argument.  He did not even try to be reasonable.  He just asked who wanted to come along.  Those that did either already had faith or were willing to travel a little further to see what this Messiah would do.

        “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.’”  Sometimes Peter gets it right.  That’s the only correct answer.  We follow not because he is reasonable to us.  We follow not because we understand his plan.  We follow because he has the words of eternal life and we have believed and come to know that he is the Holy One of God.  The Holy Spirit did that at our Baptisms.  All we do now is follow and witness to others all that we have seen him say and do in hopes that the Holy Spirit will create faith in them so that they can join us.  But don’t ask them to believe this on the basis of a good argument.  Don’t expect them to follow of their own volition.  They cannot do that anymore than you can make a rock give forth water.

        Proclaim his love and forgiveness.  Proclaim it with your lips, but more importantly, with your lives.  If someone sees, by your actions, that you care about them, they are going to want to know why.  And when they ask, you get to tell them about Jesus who loved you so much that he died for you, even a death upon the cross and that whether they believe it or not, he died for them as well, and he loves them just as much as he loves you.