John 6:41-59 – Living Bread
I wrote this poem and recited it as part of our final sermon on Bread in John 6! During the All-Age service that day we also made and baked (flat) bread which we used for communion.
Unfortunately at present there is no audio.
If you would like to reuse this poem please ask me first. Please do not reproduce it without permission.
I am the bread of heaven, we heard him say
Who does this Jesus think he is anyway?
Isn’t he just Joseph’s son? How can he claim to be the one,
Who down to earth from heaven has come?
He has the gall to tell us not to complain,
Well, I think I will if it’s all the same.
It’s true yesterday we sat and heard,
We hung upon his every word,
Though that was somewhat easier to do,
When he gave us fish and bread to chew.
But now he’s claiming to be more than just a preacher,
He’s saying he’s some kind of divine teacher
He’s even quoting from the prophet Isaiah.
He might as well be calling himself the Messiah.
Today this heavenly bread he claims to be,
Saying God the Father he alone can see.
He’s claiming to be God the Son,
Come to gather those the Father’s called and loose not one!
But, when we grumble, when we question
He makes not even a single concession
Instead he ramps up his rhetoric
Sounding more and more like a heretic
Now he’s claiming to be the bread of life,
Talk like that’s sure to lead to strife!
I guess he’s right, our ancestors did not escape fate,
Even though the heavenly manna they ate and ate and ate
Bread of heaven you can eat and then not die
That sounds like food I’d like to try
But hang on a minute, just wait a beat
Did he just say his flesh we have to eat?
I mean, yes, I know it’s a kind of meat,
But gross, ridiculous, absurd, obscene,
Why won’t he tell us plainly what he means?
Let me ask you, what do you think?
He means by saying his flesh we eat, and his blood drink.
Unless we wish to stand upon the brink
Of death’s dark door,
To die and to live no more.
No answer, hmm? Like me you’re not sure?
Perhaps we should stop to pray?
To ask God to show the way
After all, Jesus himself has just said,
In between all this talk of living, heavenly bread
That the Father will speak and teach and reveal
Only God can enable us to understand what he means by this meal
So let’s stop to pray…
Gracious Lord, open our eyes that we might see
What Jesus means by this strange decree
That his flesh is true food, his blood true drink
Help us, dear Father, to know what to think
We don’t need diagrams or flow charts,
Just open our eyes, our minds, our hearts
Excuse me kids, what do we say when,
Someone says ‘in Jesus name?’ ‘Amen!’
As we try to figure out what this bread of life represents
Let’s see if what Jesus said before supplements
Sheds light on current events
This is harder to fit in good prose,
As they say on all the good cooking shows,
Here’s one I prepared earlier,
That’s your cue,
I thought I told you what to do!
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”
“Come to me, and you will never go hungry. Believe in me and you will never thirst.”
“This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
“Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.”
And compare that now with verse 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.”
When you look at what he’s said before,
It seems he’s now speaking in a metaphor
I hope that with me you can now see,
that Jesus wasn’t talking literally.
We don’t really eat his flesh,
that thought which caused us such distress,
We feed upon him in our hearts when we believe
And then the gift of life we do receive
The Word became flesh, then his flesh upon the Cross was given
So that all who believe might be forgiven
That’s a cheap rhyme, but you got to do what you can do
To share the gospel a truth that’s true.
Now, there’s one more thing we should note
So Jesus’ words we don’t misquote
We can’t jump straight from John 6
To the meal we call the Eucharist
It’s true there is a connection
To the celebration of his death and resurrection
But don’t think that Jesus says eternal life you’ll gain
If the bread you eat, and the cup you drain
For in the elements he’s not an inhabitant
That’s to get the wrong idea of the sacrament
When he speaks of this life giving union
It’s not directly gained through sharing communion
But in what the meal does signify
The bread of life, from heaven on high
None but Jesus can truly satisfy
Thousands ate till they were full to the gills
But only God the Son can fill,
The God shaped hunger that’s within us all
So why don’t you upon him call?
Come to him and simply believe
And everlasting life you shall receive
You need hunger and thirst no more
Instead be satisfied for evermore.
Rev. George J. Hemmings