Who does he think he is (the bread of life)?

1 Kings 19:4-8, Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2, & John 6:35, 41-51, from the Question Mark series of talks?


Well you have come in to a sermon series of Questions – we began in Mark’s gospel, and called it Question Mark, thanks to Dick Lucas in Cambridge, years ago; the worldwide lectionary switched to John’s gospel for August – but we have retained the Q theme


I had fun yesterday on a pastoral visit – trying to find my way around a new housing development – absolutely beautiful, but really tricky.   On my iPhone, the house in question was in the grey space off the map – and I could find number 8 of the road but not 58 – so decided I must have the house number written down wrong – so I knocked on number 8, the people were in, and sent me in the right direction – all wonderful. I began with what I had in front of me… I could have been driving around all night – the road signs were not clear… but asking someone the way was perfect – I shall make no comment about gender!!


So here in Whitewater churches we are asking questions about our faith – and we are encouraging all of our churches to do that this season…

I believe it is OK to ask questions – Jesus spends a large amount of his time in Q&A with his disciples – many questions are asked of him – and he often asks questions back – he certainly challenges his disciples to THINK! And that seems to be how they grow

It’s OK to ask questions. And Jesus has enormous compassion for the people who follow him round – he looks out on the crowds and they are like sheep without a shepherd, he wants them to know GOOD NEWS – he says at the beginning of Mark’s gospel,

The Kingdom of God has arrived in HIMSELF – the power and rule of God is breaking into human life – into human society – it is like spring, the foretaste of summer.

Jesus has enormous compassion for the crowds, and he is training his disciples, the apprentices – just like you and me. He knows his intensive training season for them is really short – it will only be 3 years!

Wow, I wonder how long each of us has trained for our work? It is at least 7 years to become a vicar…


So I want us to take a deep breath, and just check where we have got to – we too are disciples in training – we are in week 10 of our questions – and I just wonder where we find ourselves?

We have thought about all sorts of Q since June …

·     Who is this person Jesus – he is known as simply the carpenter? (but he speaks with authority)

·     Where is this Jesus in the storms of our lives – does he care? (storm on the lake)

·     Where is Jesus in the impossible situations of our world – can he make any difference? (Jairus’ daughter, lady with haemorrhage)

·     Where is Jesus when our situations are just difficult – does he have compassion, even for me? (feeding of 5,000)

·     Where is Jesus when we are surrounded by immense need – do we have anything to offer – do we have a small packed lunch? (feeding of 5,000)

·     Where is Jesus when we see bad behaviour, bad choices, and suffering caused to others, that follows as a result – does a godly life make any difference? (beheading of John the Baptist)


I would like you all to spend 3 minutes chatting to your neighbour – you may have only heard one sermon this series, or you may just have question from today’s readings – but I would like to ask each of you

1 – have you found any new insight or answer to a question during this series?

2 – as a disciple of Jesus, have you found yourself being asked a question? Has that enabled you to take a new course of action?

I would really love to hear from you over coffee – unless anyone feels brave enough to come and tell us a bit of their thinking into this microphone?


Today’s question: Who does he think he is?


Jesus has said to the crowds
– this is after the feeding of the 5,000 –

I am the bread of life – he who comes to me will never be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty


Who does he think he is! My paraphrase of their words: ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know

How can he say these things?

How can he say ‘I came down from heaven?’


And Jesus says to them: Stop grumbling!

What is it we need?

breadBread to nourish our physical bodies – Simon made me a loaf in the bread maker yesterday – what a wonderful smell of newly baked bread to come down to, filling the whole house, first thing in the morning!


Jesus is offering himself as the bread of life – for each of the disciples – and that means for each of us too


The bread of Jesus is to nourish – not so much our physical bodies but our spiritual lives


I am the bread of life, he says – I am the living bread that comes down from heaven – if anyone eats of this bread he will live for ever

This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world


Come, believe, and eat – bread by the lake to the bread of life –

Jesus is the bridge between these

He will give his flesh, (the Word has become flesh, John 1:14), for the life of the world


We cannot say that the physical is irrelevant and the spiritual is all – important


Tom Wright comments:

To come to Jesus (no-one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him v 43)

To come to Jesus means to approach Jesus himself, not some ‘Jesus-fantasy’ that can be pulled into new shapes however we want


The hope in Jesus we have is not some disembodied eternity, but bodily resurrection (John 6:44)


To believe in Jesus, says Tom Wright, is to grasp

With heart

With mind

With will

What in this human being, Jesus of Nazareth, the true and living God is fully and personally present


This faith in Jesus is the key to everything

It is open to everyone, whatever their background


The cost of this inclusivity – this inclusion of everyone - is in Jesus himself,

It is exclusively about Jesus

- his cross, his death, it is truly costly –

This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world, he says


Barbara Glasson – a Methodist minister in Liverpool – has written the story of the bread churchI am somewhere else

‘I am somewhere else’

A church in a home, where bread is baked together by those who gather in community, and people discover Jesus and worship Jesus together

The community is the place where he is found

Where the healing of Jesus now, is real

Where he is encountered in broken lives

And the bread of life, of Jesus’ life, makes whole –

Body, mind, spirit


What do we need – Jesus our bread of life?


What do you need – how is Jesus to be your bread of life? Or my bread of life?


We need forgiveness – the flesh that Jesus gives is his life for the life of the world – we are restored and made whole by his sacrifice of himself made once for all upon the cross, and his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension –


We are forgiven people – if we feed on Jesus our bread of life. We do not need to carry around our sin and shame – the heavy load that sits on our backs or the bleakness that causes our depression of spirits – Jesus is the forgiver – he has compassion

And he has power to bring life from death

Joy from sorrow

Peace from anguish

Jesus is the living bread who gives life to the world

And life to you and me – if we will only take and eat


We need transformation

I am the living bread says Jesus - his life in you and me – and we can be transformed people

We can become more like Jesus


Yesterday a little kindness was offered for me, a kindness shared in a moment of pressure – and a kindness that simply met my need and the need of the moment - with no charge, and no fuss – that was for me, a sign of Jesus within, offering the bread of life to someone else in a moment of need


We are transformed people when we live as Jesus of Nazareth lived

When we respond to need as Jesus does


We need community

As we share in the bread of life, we do that together in the Holy Communion – the life that nourishes us as a family – we don’t sit and eat alone, in silence maybe, we meet together around the Lord’s table, and we share the symbol of Jesus’ life for us


We need each other – to be the place of warm appreciation and acceptance – we speak of the body of Christ – we need to be together to know him fully – to know Jesus –

When we leave the community we are like coals taken out of the fire, and the heat disappears, the light goes out

We need to stay in the community

Our lives will remain alight –

Toddler group to come in the autumn

Men’s breakfast – watch this space

Craft group – flower arranging – Messy Church

Coffee shop and lunch club

New pastoral care team

New families ministry team

We need each other and will find Jesus the bread of life together


Finally, We need strength for our journey

Which of us knows the twists and turns of the path in the week or the month ahead?

Jesus knows our need of him

We know that without nourishment we will weaken and fall –


mouldy breadDon’t let your bread go mouldy…

when I was working in the Pharmaceutical industry, I worked part-time, I worked at the beginning of each week, and then on Thursday every week for years I would take what was left in the bread bin and make my lunchtime sandwich for the office – when I got to it – guess what – it had blue mould – and tasted yuck

I needed fresh bread

Fresh bread for that day – not the leftover loaf from Monday or Tuesday


breadSo don’t let our bread go mouldy – Jesus offers to each of us the living bread

We cannot live on past experiences alone

We cannot be strong on our old thinking

We need daily bread for our daily journey – together in community

And this bread will be for us the bread of life


Who does he think he is?

The bread of life = the living bread – the eternal life that begins now


Don’t go from here today without asking Jesus for more of the bread of life

=  that each of us may know the





For our lives – today and to share with our hungry and starving world


Marion de Quidt, August 2015, St John the Evangelist, Hook

backThank you to authors for resources used for this sermon:

Barbara Glasson, ‘I am somewhere else’, 2006
Gospel reflections from an emerging church
Tom Wright Twelve months of Sundays 2012