I AM The Breadof Life - September 3, 2017

John 6:27-59

The stories in the Gospel of John, in large part, are about Jesus as divine. We see a host of miracles and we hear Jesus talk about himself as the great I AM. I AM being one of the primary names for God that we learn from the Old Testament. When we read these stories, we are being invited, maybe even urged to see Jesus as God and to see God through Jesus. When Jesus says, "I AM the bread of life," he is saying, "I AM God." And he's

also saying, "God is the bread of life." They go hand in hand.
Much like last week's lesson on "I AM the Light of the World", this week's statement has deep roots in the Old Testament as well. After God called Moses, sent the plagues, freed the Israelites, and began to lead them with the Pillar of fire, the Israelites got hungry. And then they got hangry, you know, hungry and angry—hangry. Then they started to gripe. "Why are we here? Why didn't you just leave us in Egypt? At least there we had food to eat. Now we're all going to starve!!! We'd be better off as slaves!!!"
They were not happy. In fact, they were miserable. So miserable that they felt that it would be better to be slaves again! Slaves where they were "worked to death". That's a big leap. Though looking back we often remember times and places with greater fondness than we should. So there they are, after all that God had done, griping that God had brought them there just to die...And God heard them. And instead of being angry or spiteful, God says, "Ok, you're hungry, let's do something about that. I'll send crackers in the morning and meat at night. You'll have something to eat each day, but only for the day. I will provide for you, but I also want you to trust me...to learn that I will be there day in and day out." So if you fail to trust, the manna I send will rot. If you take more than you share, if you give up on me, you'll be reminded, you need me...each and every day." So the Israelites learned dependency. Each morning they would wake up and collect the manna and each night they would kill and cook the quail. Every day they had to look for God's answers...and lo and behold, every day they found them.
And if they got greedy, or scared, and took to much to save for the next day, when they woke up, it would be rotten and filled with maggots. God wanted them to trust every day, not just every once in awhile, and so God taught them to be faithful.
Eventually, they made it to the promised land where they would farm and raise their own food....a different kind of provision and dependency, one that allowed them more freedom in choosing to follow and trust God or not. And there's a long history between there and our story today. But even there in that history, there's a pattern...of trusting and not trusting, of God providing and then God's provision going to rot because they failed to keep trusting and building the relationship.
And before we get to our specific passage....there's more....a little more backstory. You see at the beginning of chapter 6, we hear about a crowd that had gathered to see and hear Jesus. He had been healing people and they wanted to see that man, to learn about him, and maybe see if he could do something for them. Jesus sat with his disciples and the people crowded around. And Jesus looked at his disciples and asked, "Where should we buy food for these people?" It was tongue in cheek....he knew the answer. Seriously, it was the first century and there were thousands of people. Even today, Walmart would run out of hot dogs before we came up with enough to feed thousands on the spot. Anyway, the disciple Phillip protested...there were too many people....it would take 6 months of pay to feed all those people, we can't afford. Then Andrew said, we could look at what we have, but even that isn't enough. I found a boy with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, but....that's still not enough. Jesus said, "it's ok. Have everybody sit down." So they did....and Jesus prayed, broke the bread and shared the food and the disciples gave some to everyone...enough to have their fill. There was enough. It was no small miracle, feeding 5000 men plus women and children.
Then we come to today's scene. Jesus had finished his teaching and left to the other side of the lake and the people followed him. They wanted more. Only, they were missing the point. The miracle of the bread and the fish weren't about the food. They were about God....about God's provision, God's care for the people, God's love. But all the people saw was food. When they asked for more Jesus told them, "Don't go running after things on earth...search for eternal things."
And the people seem excited to respond, they ask, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in [to trust] the one God 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.'[c]"

Now, remember, these were the people who JUST ATE from 5 loaves and 2 fish...enough to be full....and they're looking for a sign from Jesus. That's crazy. They JUST witnessed a miracle...one most of us have trouble even beginning to believe...and they were there and ate...and still they wanted a sign. I guess some things never change. People are full of doubt. And we always crave more. We often refuse to be satisfied.
Jesus tells them they've seen the sign and they're like....
What?! show us?!
You're looking at the sign.
Right here.
It's me. I'm the sign. I'm the proof of God. I AM the bread of life. If you want proof look at me!!!!!
And they still couldn't see it. They couldn't see him, not for who he is.

How many signs have you seen? How many wonders have you witnessed? Have you been satisfied? Or do you keep seeking after the answers that have already been given? It'd be nice to think this is an ancient problem. One that only lies with the Israelites, or the people of Galilee. But instead, it's a human problem...one we're all prone to. There are signs and wonders all over, staring us in the face and still we protest and say, "No, I want to see something...something firm, something real, something sure. Show me something, God!!!"

To which, God says "trust me"
Sure, I'll trust you, after I see the sign.

Trust me.

I need proof.

But you know me.

Not really well enough. ...

If you want a sign, look at me. Look at who I've been. Look at who I AM, and look at who I will be.

Well, sure, but....where's the proof? Beyond a reasonable doubt.

To which God says, "You're staring at it. (indicate the cross) Look I've done a lot, and I continue to be at work, and if you can't see through all of that, I don't know what else to do for you. The evidence is here...staring you in the face...are you really hoping to see me? Because I'm right here."

God's proof is in Jesus. The light. And the bread. He's the one who gives us hope. He's the one who sustains us. He's the one who fills us. He's the one who connects us to God. He's it. He's right here. Still, we shout, prove it!!!!!

Ok. (Taking the bread). This is my body, broken for you. (lifting the cup) This is my blood poured out for you. Take and eat and you shall live. I AM the bread of life....I am the one God gives to teach you how to be dependent and faithful....every day. I AM. So, come and share life with me and you'll be satisfied. You'll be full.