There is a story about a young soldier who, late on a Friday afternoon took his girlfriend to a local clergy and asked if he would marry them. “Have you got a license?” the solider waggled his head, saying, “No sir, we were too late getting to the court house.” the clergy apologised and said to the young couple, “I am sorry but I cannot marry you without the license.” In desperation, the young couple pleaded with the clergy and said, “Please sir, couldn’t you say a few words to get us through the weekend?”
I have a two or three words for you. Important words. Greek words. And they are crucial to understanding what we have heard in the last few weeks through the bread of life series in the Gospel of John. The first word is logos or word. You remember! In the beginning was the Word... God’s logos is the source of his power and his life. God’s logos was active part of the acts of creation. But more than that, God’s Word became flesh and blood. The logos became sarx as one of us with flesh and blood. The Word made his dwelling amongst us so that we could see his glory. His presence was as real. The flesh and blood Word showed us who God is through the signs that he offered. The Word offered the opportunity for us to find life, zoe. This is why John at the end of his gospel tells us plainly that there are many other things that he could have written to show that Jesus is the Christ, but he recounted these this that we might believe, that is trust and participate (pisteou) in Jesus and find that we have both a life and a lifetime in him. After all where else can you go and get a meal that will last you an entire week?
Many of us don’t mind that we are dependent upon daily bread. But there is a very real and very important challenge that is presented to us by Jesus in the Gospel: are you staying or are you leaving? You are not called to suffering but to love and to compassion for those around you who do not have life, the kind of life that God has offered to you in Jesus. You are called to stay and to remain in Christ so that others might experience Christ in the flesh through you. They need to experience the quality of your life in Jesus Christ not just hear about the length of an unattainable life in some distant, unattainable place. They need to know that the life that is offered and lived from this holy table is something worth having and something worth sharing.
There are many who think they know the Christian message, the Gospel, and they are scandalized by the demands that the Christian life makes upon them. They want their ways and their things, their rights and their life. You can be a good person and not go to church, right? Certainly. One can be a good and moral person without ever darkening the doorway of church building. However, zoe the abundant, eternal life that God offers is only possible through the person of Jesus Christ who is God’s way, God’s truth and God’s life for us. Faith and believe are far more the intellectual assent to doctrines and teaching. When you stop and examine what is written about Jesus in the Gospels, what you will find is a man who came from God who chose to love and have compassion for those who need life, to tell the truth about God to people who have been lied to and told that their life belongs themselves and for their own possession instead of in service first to God and then to neighbour. People need to discover again that their life can be sustained in Christ through their submission to the divine life and Word of God.
It will not be an easy road. There will be suffering, pain, and loss. You will lose things you treasure and people whom you love will misunderstand and turn their backs on you. Jesus showed us this.
So it comes down to a simple question... have you found the words that will give you life? Where will you go and what will you do with that life? Do you want more than just a weekend? Are you willing to stay when others are not? Come and participate in Christ’s life that you might truly live and bring that same abundant life to others in his name.