Sunday 22 August 2021, Theological Education Sunday. Sermon: Revd Sabelo Mthimkhulu

Services are held this Sunday at 7.30am and 9.15am. The full Service Slides may be found on our website.

Sermon by Revd Sabelo Mthimkhulu  (John 6:56-69)

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Today’s gospel reading picks up on Jesus’ proclamation of the bread of life,

The scene occurs in a synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus here is interpreting a passage of scripture that was introduced by the crowd earlier in verse 31.

The crowd questions Jesus for the sign similar to the that God provided to the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus helps them with the interpretation of that Exodus scripture, and He goes as far as proclaiming Himself to be the manna.

The manna in the wilderness was provided to give life to the Israelites on their way from Egypt to the promise land, and here we find Jesus who also gives life but unlike the manna in the wilderness, Jesus brings the eternal life.

The Israelites seem to play the same role in these two narratives (The Wilderness narrative and John’s narrative).

In the story of manna in Exodus, the Israelites’ response to God’s salvation and provision is mixed. They initially praise God for miraculously taking them out of Egypt but later grumble against God and Moses in the wilderness.

They now doubt the power of God.

The same is taking place here in John, the disciples have seen God performing miracles (through Jesus) but still doubt some of His teachings. To them it makes no sense for Jesus to refer to himself as the “the bread of life”, they grumble against this teaching.

The responses here are also mixed, one group seems to be struggling with this teaching but remain receptive and the other not, they leave. Here John furthers invites us to continue a journey that is far from completion, a journey that requires us to always be opened to new revelations of God.

Jesus tells the crowd that the words He is telling them are Spirit, He tells the that it is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words He has spoken to them, are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of them who do not believe.

When Jesus realizes that others have become resistant to his teachings and left, He then question to The Twelve: “Do you also wish to go away?”

This question of Jesus is the reminder to them (and also to us this morning) that following Jesus is a choice, Jesus does not force any of us to follow Him, He gives us an option to either enter to this eternal life or not.

Jesus is the one who elected or called his disciples, but He now give them an opportunity to choose for themselves, so the Twelve remain because they have made an informed decision. They have clearly thought about their decision.

Is there anything we can take from the Twelve disciple?

Maybe what we can learn from these disciples, is the fact that there is nothing wrong with introspecting your faith. Recognizing Jesus for who He is, requires both belief and knowledge; one without the other is useless.

Before we get to manifest this powerful statement of faith “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” we need to really wrestle with our faith.

Faith that hasn’t been wrestled with is easily shaken. Peter says, “We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” In other words, for Peter and the other 11 disciples, coming to this belief has not been an overnight thing, it costed them a journey with Jesus. They have seen Jesus transforming their unbelief.

They are the one who were given an instruction to gather up the leftovers of bead and fish (after Jesus has fed the five thousand) and followed it, they are the ones Jesus has rescued from the storm in the sea, they are the ones who have seen Him walking on water.

But even though they have seen all these miracles, but they still find themselves still wrestling with their faith, and it is in this wrestling that they come to believe and to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Theological Sunday, I will encourage you, to continue wrestling with your faith, it is in this daily journey of wrestling that we may get an everyday understanding of who Jesus is.

We will never understand fully God, what we need to do is to not give up and turn back like the other disciples or crowd, in times of confusions we just need to remember and hold on what God has done for us.

We will than remember that amidst and beyond this confusing time, there is eternal manna.

While we reason with our faith, lets also count our blessings, lets count what the Lord has done for us.

Let us allow our reasoning and wrestling grow our understanding of God,

Even in times where understanding Him seems to be beyond our own imaginations, let us hold on.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Amen

 

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