“I Am The Bread of Life!”

Christ is risen!

In the church I was raised we just didn’t do the Lord’s Supper very often. In fact, there are years where I can’t remember if we did it at all through a particular year. And that didn’t strike me as strange or unusual. After all it was just a “memorial” of a past event. Nothing more.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that this attitude towards the Bread and Wine of the Supper was not just unusual, but downright dangerous! You see, it simply isn’t possible to read the regular practice of the Christian Faith since Pentecost and not notice that, for centuries, Christians practiced the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, and usually several times during the week as well. And since the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve seen how so many people are missing regularly participating in the Eucharist. If we no longer take for granted this wonderful Gift, that will be momentus indeed!

Look at our lesson today in John 6:35-39:

The Lord said to the Jews who believed in him: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.”

Notice who Jesus directs His words “to the Jews who believed in him.” No Jew of Jesus’ day would miss the reference to bread in the Lord’s words. Every pious Jew of the Lord’s day knew the story of God sending “bread from heaven” when the Jews had been delivered from the slavery of Egypt and now they were in “the wilderness” headed to the Promised Land. But they still got hungry and the place where they were was a desolate place and they would have starved to death had God not provided the Manna from heaven to feed them on their journey! The story was both well known and very important for the Lord to tie to His ministry in coming from heaven to satisfy hunger and thirst as well.

Because, just like those Jews after their escape from Egypt, so those who believe in Christ are in a “wilderness” where we still get hungry and thirsty and if we don’t direct our hunger and thirst to the proper Source, we will satisfy our desires with “food” that really doesn’t nourish us. And we won’t survive the journey to the “Promised Land.”

At the very heart of the disciplined life of a Purposeful Orthodoxy is the taming of our hungers and thirsts; our desires. And I want you to notice that these desires aren’t bad in and of themselves. They are normal. And they have been given to us by God for our salvation, but ONLY if we proactively cooperate with God in taming and directing these desires to a healthy fulfillment.

No wonder the central act of Orthodox worship is the Eucharist. The very reason the Lord instituted this “Supper” for we Christians is to direct us to the real food and drink that is our human heart’s deepest desire. And what is that hunger? What is that thirst? It is a hunger, a desire for God Himself. Everybody has a God-shaped hole inside themselves that drives a hunger for a relationship with God. But all too often we try to satisfy that hunger with lesser “foods” that don’t satisfy or quench our thirst.

Today, it’s normal to have desires. To desire is to be human. But left untamed, these desires will become slave masters to our lives, and imprison us to addictions. Jesus is the “Bread of Life” that is the Only satisfaction to your deepest desire. And the Church offers us the path to keep our desires servants to us to direct us to the life of desiring God; to being Orthodox on Purpose!

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2 comments:

  1. Christ is Risen!
    Dear Father Barnabas,

    Y’all need to get ahold of the V. Rev. Father Richard Ballew’s study’s notes on the Gospel of John. Now my main point…

    Well! We all are southerner’s in some way; my Dad was a Pentecostal/ Assembly Of God- and my Morher, a Grace Baptist. Whew! I wound up part of the 1971-72 movement of the former Campus Crusade for Christ/Bill Bright “baby” of the ‘movement into Orthodoxy’. I was 3 years old when Father Jon Braun and Father Richard Ballew rode (on their bikes) out of my driveway to “Find Athanasius/Ortiodoxy” and the early Christian Church. I WOW(!) married Father Richard’s son.
    I started evangelizing at 3 years old- as long back as I can remember- I wanted to tell everyone about JESUS. There was nothing- NO Thing except Jesus- ever, to me.
    So now, after I’ve listened to all your 194 homilies- cause I love a Pentecostal Orthodox, like myself- let me encourage you…you’re a Pit-bull. This kind of preacher is SO gregarious..etc. ; – well, you can add to the adjectives…but now, we gotta sort of, ‘sit still’. It’s ALL coming back- and with it, more than you even know or want. You’ll havta tell them ladies you need to go to the restroom and add to that, make some sandwiches for you! Why? Cause the line of confessions will be 14 hours long. YOU WILL NEED RECRUITS! Mass baptisms will ensue.. never spite the Catholics for ‘Sprinkling’ cause we’ll have to do it too. We are in the END OF DAYS- and a harvest is coming the likes of which we have NEVET seen.

    Thank you Father!
    From one Pentecostal Orthodox to another,
    XHRIST IS RISEN!!!
    Elizabeth Ballew

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