Eating the Bread of Life
by Second Presbytery Student of Theology and
First Presbyterian Church Deacon Adam Moore
October 24th, 2010 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
John 1:1-5; 14-17 English Standard Version
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”)
16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s will, word, and love are all sufficient. We do not know why the Lord works the way He does, works the way He does, but it is always for our good.
This last week, as I was traveling, I worked on my sermon. Writing it, reading it, editing it, rereading it, and polishing it into a form that I felt was pretty good. Then, Saturday night around 12:30 am, my wife graciously listened as I read it out loud to her. At 12:45 am, providence struck. I am still not sure what I did exactly, but, in my exhausted state, I did something that deleted my five page sermon and I was left with only a page and half of the original rough draft.
I guarantee you that my fallen nature came right out, and at 12:55 am I went on to bed. When I woke up this morning, I sat down, trusted in the Lord and rewrote from memory this very sermon. This sermon that all of us are about to hear for the first time, is truly a product of the Lord providing. There was no time for edits or polishing, He gives to us all sufficiently and this is truly what the Lord provided by His grace for today.
The Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist. No other sacrament has been more written about, commented on, studied, preached over, or misunderstood. The Lord’s Supper is, in fact, the most prominent point on which the Protestants and the Catholics are split. It would not be an overstatement either to say that the Lord’s Supper and its administration or purpose in worship is one of the chief driving causes of the Reformation and then, also the formalization of the Reformed tradition.
Why all of this confusion? Because Christ says that we should eat his flesh.
To the Roman Catholics this mean that we are to physically eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. In the Roman Catholic tradition a miracle occurs when the bread and wine are presented by the priest and administered to the believer. The teaching is that the bread and wine are transformed into the actual flesh and blood of Christ and, therefore, believers consume human flesh and blood of Jesus. To the Roman Catholics the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is truly redone every time they perform the Lord’s Supper.
This to us in the Reformed tradition should seem to be totally off base. We understand that the elements do not change and that when we eat the bread and drink the wine, we are consuming nothing more than bread and wine.
So, then why perform this sacrament at all?
Because it was commanded by our Savior: “Do this in remembrance of me.” This is a direct command to his church.
The sacrament has no power of salvation in and of itself. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a sign and seal of the promises of the Lord, both those we experience temporally and those that we will get to experience once we are called home.
So, how do we know which interpretation is correct?
This question was answered through the writings of Augustine, who was one of the greatest theologians of the early church and the father of many of our doctrines today.
Even in Augustine’s day, he had to dispel bad theology and demonstrate when the Lord was giving a command and when He was speaking figuratively.
Augustine’s test to determine this is very simple. He says that if the apparent command breaks any law or is immoral, then the Lord, whom is perfect, is speaking figuratively. If the command does not break laws or is not immoral, then it is a direct command. So, let us apply this to our text. Obviously, the Lord does not want us to perform any act of cannibalism, so he is speaking figuratively.
After looking at Augustine’s proof, we know that we are dealing with figurative language and that Christ is not commanding us to eat His actual flesh and actual blood.
Jesus Christ is the Word incarnate. Since the very beginning the Eternal Word has dwelt with God. John 1:1-5 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, .and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Then just a few verses later we read that Jesus is the Word manifest in the flesh. In John 1:14-17 we read And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before Me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
In these two passages we see that the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. To consume Christ is for us to satisfy our souls on him.
How do we do this? We must diligently study his Word.
This does not mean that we simply gloss over a few verses each day so that we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “I have read the Bible every day.” To consume Christ, or satisfy our souls in Him, we must study the wonderful words of eternal life that we might contemplate what the Scripture is trying to teach us.
We should pray before we open His Word. We should go to the throne of His all sufficient grace and ask for the Sovereign Spirit to illuminate our minds that we may discern what Jesus has revealed about the Father.
We have many means of grace through which we contemplate or consume Jesus: prayer, reading our Bibles, devotional studies and listening to sermons. Really, any activity that exposes our soul to the doctrines about God found in the written Word, when received by prayer, have the potential to transform our life.
This is how we consume Jesus.
The passage we read from the bulletin is not the only place in which Christ uses such language about consuming Him. John 6:26-27 says, Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
Jesus is saying to us that He and He alone satisfies our souls. That He is not like ordinary bread which satisfies for only a little while. Jesus will sustain our souls forever and when abiding in Him never let us go without spiritual sustenance.
The most familiar passage where Christ is our bread is 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
In this passage Jesus is in the upper room enjoying his last meal with the disciples and commands “do this in remembrance of me.” Remember Augustine’s test? If the apparent command breaks any law or is immoral then the Lord is speaking figuratively.
What did Jesus command in the Lord’s Supper?
We, with the original Apostles, have been given a command that when we, as a body of believers, faithfully take the Lord’s Supper together. We are to do this is remembrance of Him because of the sacrifice He made on our behalf.
Manna was a foreshadowing. The juice and bread are a backwards remembrance. Neither were the real physical substance that gave life.
This is proven by our passage and the words of Christ Himself. Christ draws the very interesting and very important parallel between Himself and manna.
God promised to provide His children food while wandering in the desert. Every day as they wandered in a foreign land God sent manna from the sky to sustain His people.
God’s grace was so good, and it was so pleasing to God to do so, that he provided even more manna to the people than was needed. No one went hungry; all were sustained, but this was just manna. It could not save spiritually. This was just a foreshadowing of the real bread that would come down.
Jesus Christ was the bread sent to earth from heaven. When Biblically consumed, this bread of eternal life will sustain His people forever according to the saving grace of God. And like the manna that was provided by our heavenly Father to our ancestors, Jesus was sent to His people that He may sustain us too. What a beautiful Gospel truth.
Jesus instituted His church and gave us, through the Apostles, the Holy Bible. Jesus sustains the soul of the believer by that word. Every day we need to run to Him and be sustained. And, just like the those who were wandering in the desert, we too experience every day the outpouring of God’s love and grace, an outpouring so abundant that it never stops and our frail souls are daily able to say, “I am satisfied.”
Today, right now, we too are wandering in a foreign land. We were not meant for this place and are temporarily removed from the glorious homes that we know await us.
No matter what troubles your soul, no matter how great the pain, despair, or uncertainty that you may be facing, know that, as a child of God, your heavenly Father is providing for you at this very moment.
His grace is sufficient. Your cup can truly runneth over.
We are wandering for a time, weary and ready for our rest, but, like those before us, we too one day will be called to our glorious home which has been prepared for us. Then we will be able to understand fully the sustaining grace given to us from God through Christ and know that we had been fed well.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.