Jesus offers us the Bread of Life. He guarantees that he himself will provide the nourishment that we need for our life journeys, whatever happens to us. We need different kinds of nourishment at different times in our lives. We talked last week about how a mother’s milk for her infant actually changes depending upon the needs of the baby when it is born. It contains more fat for low birthweight infants, and less fat for those who are heavier. The Bread of Life is like that, it changes to meet our needs. When we are depressed or tired, our needs are different than when we are thankful or looking for guidance.
People tend to get stuck when they think about Jesus’ ‘flesh and blood.’ Did he just mean Communion, the Lord’s Supper? No, because that hadn’t even happened yet. ‘Flesh and blood’ was a saying in Hebrew that meant the whole person; heart, mind, spirit, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, everything. The Whole Enchilada.
Jesus says that he gives his entire self to us, that he is part of us. When Steven was baptized today, I prayed that the Holy Spirit live in Steven like it lives in us. That is how Jesus lives in us. We don’t have pieces of his body here and here, but we have his spirit, what we call the Holy Spirit inside us, as part of us. And the Holy Spirit isn’t just a piece of Jesus, it’s the whole thing. Your spirit is your personality; who you are, and the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ personality, all of him.
But an important thing to remember, is that Jesus isn’t just spirit. He’s not just like a ghost. Just before this story, is the story where he multiplied the loaves and fishes. Do you know that story? Who can tell it?
Jesus cares just as much about our physical needs; what we need every day to live, as he does about our invisible needs. He gave the people food to eat, he healed their bodies and spirits, and he told them to share their clothes and food and houses with people who didn’t have any. And on top of that, he told us to come to him when we have invisible needs, because he will give us what we need.
Jesus offers us his whole self, and he loves our whole self. That’s part of what he means when he said he is the Bread of Life. He wants us to have whatever we need.
We also can never separate ourselves from him. Can you take the breakfast you had three days ago out of your body? No, because it has already become part of your body. It has given you energy for what you needed that day, and it has become part of who your whole body is. Jesus, the Bread of Life, is like that too. Because his Spirit is in us, he has become who we are. We can’t separate ourselves from him. We have already acted by his Spirit, done good things, acted or said things out of love, and we can’t take that back. The Spirit is already part of our lives, and you can’t separate it from who we are.
And that’s part of this Whole Enchilada, Whole Body of Christ thing. We can’t be separated from him, and he can’t be separated from us, and just like he cares about what we need in body, mind, emotions and spirit, he cares just as much about what another person needs. So, what can we do about that? “Love one another as I have loved you.”
We are the hands and feet of Jesus. His Spirit acts through us in caring for the body, mind, emotions, and spirits of others. That’s how God works a lot of the time. And we have help. We don’t have to do it alone.
One of the first leaders of the church, Paul, said All of us are the Body of Jesus. We all are different parts, with different jobs to help the body be healthy and keep growing. Who do you think he meant by that? The Body of Jesus? Is it just the people here, the people that we know? Or our families, or friends at school?
It’s the whole world. All the people everywhere. We all make up the Body of Jesus, the Body of Christ. And even more than that, now we think that it’s the whole earth too; all the land, and trees and fish and animals and birds. The Holy Spirit lives in everything, so in a way, it is All the Body of Jesus, part of God.
That’s why we need to take care of every little thing. When a kind of animal or plant or butterfly disappears, we lose something that shows us something about God. Everything shows us something beautiful about God, something God wanted for us to be happy, and it’s important that we care for it well.