From the Word 

“I AM I AM the Bread of Life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the Bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”  John 6:48-50 

    Jesus had fed a huge crowd of people the previous day and now they have found Him wanting more.  So He gives them more, but not what they came for.  They came because they thought He would provide them food like God did for the children of Israel when he sent manna from heaven to feed them each day.  They saw an opportunity to be relieved of bringing forth food from the ground through toil and sweat.  They wanted him to provide for their daily bread in a wondrous and miraculous way, as He had done the day before.
    What Jesus gave them, and gives us, is far more miraculous than multiplying fish and loaves to feed their bodies.  He points out to them that their fathers ate the manna and died.  He then promised them bread that would give them eternal life.  The bread He gives is Him.  He uses “I AM I AM” to show them that the true bread from heaven is God who took on flesh to feed us for eternal life with God.  He came to take our sins, and to dress us in His righteousness so that we might live forever with God. 
    How do we get this bread?  We get it when we interact with Him and receive His grace.  People often wonder whether this bread is the Sacrament of the Altar.  He is not speaking only of the Sacrament, but anytime we come in contact with God’s grace.  We receive the Bread of Life when we hear God’s Word, most especially the Gospel of Jesus.  It is the Gospel that makes us alive forever.  So reception of the Word of Christ is reception of God’s grace; the Bread of Life.  In Baptism we receive the blessings Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, thus we receive the Bread of Life.  In the Sacrament we receive the very body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, thus we receive the Bread of Life.  Jesus comes into our midst with His grace to bless us.  We receive Him in Word and Sacrament, thus we receive the Bread of Life.
    As we live each day, God grants our prayer for daily bread.  He blesses us with food, and good stewardship to use it.  We give Him thanks for this.  But no matter how nourished we are by daily bread, it cannot give us eternal life.  We invite the Bread of Life to be our guest as we eat our daily bread for He is eternal life.

 

From the Word 

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ).  When He comes, He will tell us all things.”  Jesus said to her, “I AM I AM who is speaking to you.” 

    You may look at the above verse, look it up in your Bible, and conclude that something is wrong with my translation, since your Bible does not translate Jesus’ words in that way.  You will not find a translation into English like the one above because it isn’t good English. It is, however, what the text says.
    In the New Testament Jesus makes many “I AM” statements.  Most of them are in John.  The Hebrew name Yahweh (mostly translated “Lord”) means “I AM I AM.”  Jesus uses this name many times.  The Greek text uses two words, both meaning “I AM” to indicate what He says.  So we have the Greek saying “I AM I AM” showing that Jesus is calling Himself Yahweh, the Lord who interacted with the Old Testament people, and promised to come and save them.
    In John 4 Jesus is affirming that He is the promised Messiah, who is God the Lord.  He is God.  The woman is looking to know about the Messiah.  He tells her that He is the Messiah, and that the Messiah is God her Savior.
    Only God can be the deliverer of His people.  Only the sinless God can bear the sins of all people for all time.  So He did.  Yahweh, the one who used Moses to deliver His people from Egypt, has come to earth to deliver everyone from sin, death, and hell.  He is the redeemer of this sinful Samaritan woman.  He is my Savior, and yours.  He is my God, and yours. 
    During this year, we will look at I AM statements in the New Testament to learn about God the Savior who came to be our Savior.  These lessons will be from His own mouth, mostly from the Gospel of John.  We will learn about who Jesus is for us.

 

From the Word 

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11

I thought I would let you read an excerpt from Luther’s Christmas sermon 1530.

     This is our theology, which we preach in order that we may understand what the angel wants. Mary bore the child, took it to her breast and nursed it, and the Father in heaven has his Son, lying in the manger and the mother’s lap. Why did God do all this? Why does Mary guard the child as a mother should? And reason answers: in order that we may make an idol of her, that honor may be paid to the mother. Mary becomes all this without her knowledge and consent, and all the songs and glory and honor are addressed to the mother. And yet the text does not sound forth the honor of the mother, for the angel says, “I bring to you good news of a great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior” [Luke 2:10–11]. I am to accept the child and his birth and forget the mother, as far as this is possible, although her part cannot be forgotten, for where there is a birth there must also be a mother. Nevertheless, we dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the child was born. And the angel desired that we should see nothing but the child which is born, just as the angels themselves, as though they were blind, saw nothing but the child born of the virgin, and desired that all created things should be as nothing compared with this child, that we should see nothing, be it harps, gold, goods, honor, power, and the like, which we would prefer before their message. For if I receive even the costliest and best in the world, it still does not have the name of Savior. And if the Turk were ten times stronger than he is, he could not for one moment save me from my infirmity, to say nothing of the peril of death, and even less from the smallest sin or from death itself. In my sin, my death, I must take leave of all created things. No, sun, moon, stars, all creatures, physicians, emperors, kings, wise men and potentates cannot help me. When I die I shall see nothing but black darkness, and yet that light, “To you is born this day the Savior” [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all heaven and earth. The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me. And when the heavens and the stars and all creatures stare at me with horrible mien, I see nothing in heaven and earth but this child. So great should that light which declares that he is my Savior become in my eyes that I can say: Mary, you did not bear this child for yourself alone. The child is not yours; you did not bring him forth for yourself, but for me, even though you are his mother, even though you held him in your arms and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and picked him up and laid him down. But I have a greater honor than your honor as his mother. For your honor pertains to your motherhood of the body of the child, but my honor is this, that you have my treasure, so that I know none, neither men nor angels, who can help me except this child whom you, O Mary, hold in your arms. If a man could put out of his mind all that he is and has except this child, and if for him everything—money, goods, power, or honor—fades into darkness and he despises everything on earth compared with this child, so that heaven with its stars and earth with all its power and all its treasures becomes as nothing to him, that man would have the true gain and fruit of this message of the angel. And for us the time must come when suddenly all will be darkness and we shall know nothing but this message of the angel: “I bring to you good news of great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior” [Luke 2:10–11].[1]

 

 



[1] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, pp. 213–214). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

From the Word 

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 
1 Corinthians 10:16
 

    Are you going to communion?  This was a question I heard in the hallways of my congregation when I was growing up.  As I grew older and realized what the Lord’s Supper was, I wondered why anyone would choose not to receive it. 

    Paul’s admonition to examine ourselves about our repentance and our faith in the words of Jesus concerning the Sacrament are indeed valuable.  As a Pastor I would not want anyone to eat and drink in an unworthy manner because of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11.  Such examination is important, especially as a reminder of the wondrous gift we are receiving.

    But, in a sense, the question of us coming to the Lord’s Supper puts the emphasis in the wrong place.  The focus is on us, when it should be on the Sacrament.  The point of our reception of the Sacrament of the Altar is on what is received. 

    Jesus uses the simple word “is” in His institution of the Sacrament.  “This is My body.”  “This is My blood.”  “Is” means “is.”  Any attempt to make this a metaphor or allegory needs biblical evidence for support.  But every reference to the Sacrament says “is.”  Nowhere are we given any reason to believe that He means anything else than “is.”

    The point of the Sacrament is that Jesus gives us His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus comes to us with His physical presence to touch us with His grace.  Our participation in what He brings is a participation in the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for us on the cross.  We don’t have to go to Calvary to see the crucified Savior.  The crucified Savior comes to us as we participate in His once for all sacrifice.  All He did in that moment, we receive in the moment we commune with Him.  In the body we receive He unites us as His body, one in faith and hope.  In the blood of Jesus we are united to His blood that washes us (Revelation 7:14).

    Are you going to communion?  The Lord is coming to us!

 

From the Word 

“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” Matthew 6:11-13

   We continue our journey through the Lord’s Prayer.  For a greater discussion of this wondrous gift, go through the section on the Lord’s Prayer in Luther’s Small Catechism.
   Give us each day our daily bread.  In Jesus day, the bread was not only a staple of their diet, it was the means by which they scooped up their food (their eating utensil).  The bread helped them eat nearly everything.  Daily bread refers to all the blessings of body and soul that we need each day.  God daily provides this, and this prayer reminds us of the source of every blessing.
   And forgive us our debts (Luke has “sins”) as we also have forgiven our debtors.  The reason Jesus came was to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, once and for all time.  We are forgiven by God’s grace because Jesus took our sins to the cross.  Having been forgiven so much, we forgive in thanks to Him.  Forgiveness is what our lives are built on.  Forgiveness dominates our relationship to God, and is indispensable in our relationships with others. 
   And lead us not into temptationSatan alone tempts us, but we ask God to guard and protect us from the evil one.  This is a constant need.  Satan comes with temptations and accusations, seeking to remove our focus from Jesus and rob us of our peace.  It is the grace of Christ that enables us to resist temptation.  It is that same grace that grants forgiveness when we give in.  When Satan accuses us and seeks to get us to despair, we flee to Jesus as our defense.  We are sinners, but we stand in the forgiveness and righteousness of Jesus.  We will not be moved.
   But deliver us from evil.  Jesus delivers us from the evil in this world.  We are strengthened in that assurance as we continue in God’s Word and in the reception of His grace in the Sacraments.  Our sole reliance is on Him and Him alone.  He will ultimately deliver us from evil when He takes us to the home He has prepared for us in heaven.
    Lord, teach us to pray.