[Jesus said,] 51“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
When our oldest son, Robert was in the 11th grade, he had to take a computer lab class. Now what you need to know about Robert is that he started programing computers when he was 8 years old. Computer lab – learning the very basics about computers and word processing – was a breeze for Robert. In fact, Robert probably could have taught the class.
But Robert had always been a good student and so he did the work that he was told to do, which took him about 10 minutes, if that. So, when he was finished with his work, he went to his teacher and asked if he could read his book, since he was done with the work.
His teacher responded, “No, you need to find something to do on the computer.” Well, Robert did. Sitting in class, on the school’s computer, Robert gained ACCESS into the school- wide computer. In other words, he hacked into the school system – in which he then had ACCESS to grades, including the ability to change grades, locker combinations, and email accounts.
ACCESS – the desire for ACCESS is the human nature to want to “Enter Into” – with or without permission. It is liberty, or having the ability to approach – or a way of means of approaching or entering –
If you think about it…we need ACCESS to be just about everything we do.
- Access into our homes
- Sometimes access into our neighborhoods where we live
- Access into our workplace
- Access to our computer
Sometimes we gain access with a key, or a passcode, or even a Card that reads the access code –
We spend a good bit of our time each day trying to gain access –
It was similar in the days when Jesus was walking on this earth. They wanted ACCESS to Jesus! Jesus had gotten popular. He was feeding thousands of people, walking on water, healing people of all kinds of diseases. People were looking for ways to ACCESS him – to get closer, hear his Words, or feel his touch.
It was just after Jesus had fed over 5000 people with a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish when Jesus confronted the people who were looking for him after crossing to the other side of the sea. He told them that they wanted to find him because they were hoping for a meal.
And so Jesus begins to talk to them about how He is the Bread sent from Heaven.
He tells them, “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Jesus is telling them, “You do have ACCESS to me. Just come to me!” But…they did not understand. And so the conversation continues…
Then Jesus begins to try and explain to them in terms that they can understand. He begins to get really graphic.
Jesus tells them, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life…for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”
I was teaching First Communion in my congregation for the first time. I had a little girl who was participating and who was about 7 years old. I was trying to explain to her that the bread and the wine IS the body and blood of Jesus.
I’ll never forget the look on her face and then she said…OOOUH…I’m not eating that! That is so gross!
At the time, all I could think about was that this child is never going to partake in the Lord’s supper. I was horrified and I thought, “I have ruined it for her!”
Since then, I have many people ask me, “How could this even be? How can bread be the flesh of Jesus Christ, and the wine be Jesus’ blood? It’s impossible!
I have learned to respond with Martin Luther’s response: God is really good at Miracles! Anything is possible with God!
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life…for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.
Jesus told the disciples that night in the upper room just before his crucifixion,
“This IS my body given for you. This IS my blood shed for you.” This is my gift to you for the forgiveness of sins – your sins – not mine! Jesus was sinless.
It is the forgiveness of sins – the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross for us and for the world that is at the very heart of this Lord’s Supper that continues to nudge us closer and closer to the center of Christ.
Jesus’ flesh sacrificed on the Cross for the sin of the world, trusted with hearts of faith, and imbibed spiritually in Eucharist faithfulness…
You see, Jesus Christ Himself gives meaning to our lives – focuses, centers, reorients us– and fills us physically and spiritually.
When we partake in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ – we have been given ACCESS to our salvation!
For me, once I could begin to wrap my head around what that really meant – It is an experience that I will never forget.
We not only want to “come” to Jesus once in our conversion, but we find ourselves wanting to keep coming to Him as often as possible.
During the pandemic, it was over a year before we could have communion in the traditional way – in which, I believe Jesus would want us to.
I’ll never forget that Sunday here with you when it was decided to have communion again. I cannot tell you the tears I saw from folks because of the joy they were feeling to have the Eucharist given to them – freely – especially after a long and hard year of separation.
This IS my body given for you. This IS my blood shed for you.
It is as Jesus is saying – Here it is…Here I am…Take a good look…This is it! The Great Heavenly Visit is now right here in front of you!
Our Son, Robert got scared when he realized the power he had when he gained ACCESS into the school’s computer system. So, he turned himself in.
For the rest of the year, he was not allowed into the computer lab. But he was asked to demonstrate how he gained access. The next year when our two daughters went back to school, they had to change their passcodes to something more complicated. They were telling Robert about it, and he responded to them, “You’re welcome.” It was a recommendation he had made to the authorities that passcodes be made more difficult to keep hackers out.
We asked Robert why he did what he did. He told us, “I just wanted to see if I could do it. It was a challenge, and I didn’t have anything else to do while sitting in class after my work was done.”
(All I could think about was that I sure wish that teacher had just let him read his book!)
ACCESS – passcodes, keys, combinations, gates- we all want and need ACCESS – in some kind of way…
And, this is what Jesus gives to us – ACCESS to our Salvation – ACCESS to our Eternal Home!
Jesus says, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life – And…
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
In other words, I will make my home in them, and they will make their home in me.
Isn’t this the Crux of this text?
Because here is what I think…I honestly do not think there is a single human being in this world that would not want ETERNAL LIFE –
Isn’t Unending Life human’s greatest desire?
Isn’t it one’s life goal to gain ACCESS to heaven? Because believe me, I hear it every day!
Isn’t it the way that we are to live a life in Christ a challenge in itself?
Could it be that every day our Salvation is at stake because of our sin?
Isn’t everyone’s salvation at stake. Isn’t it then…a matter of life and death?
But, here is the thing…
Jesus gives us ACCESS to our eternal life.
He gives us the opportunity to repent for our sins.
We gain ACCESS to the heavenly world!
We receive ACCESS to the Life of the World –Jesus Christ.
Jesus provides a way for us to have ACCESS to Unending Life!
We become participants of the once in a lifetime event that day when Jesus climbed up on that cross –
Through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, you are looking straight at the meaning of Life!
For you see…Jesus provides the one True food and the one true drink –
That gives us ACCESS to TRUE life! For that is what it is all about!