Here’s a riddle. Why is it tricky to preach a sermon about The Lord’s Supper using the Gospel according to John for the scripture?
For the next two weeks, the worship services are all about Holy Communion. Our songs will have Communion themes, the sermons will be about Communion, and of course we will celebrate the sacrament each of the next two weeks.
And the scripture text we will be using to give shape to these services comes from the Gospel of John. Hence my riddle: why is that an odd selection of scripture?
Here’s the answer: It’s because the Gospel according to John does not contain an account of the “last supper” that Jesus shared with his disciples in the familiar way that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1st Corinthians do. In John’s story, Jesus’ final Passover with his disciples is the occasion for him to wash their feet, an event that conversely is not mentioned in any of the other three Gospels.
However, the Gospel of John contains a lengthy passage about the “bread of life” that is filled with rich imagery. In John 6, Jesus identifies himself as “the bread of life” and “the bread that came down from heaven” and “the living bread.” The chapter itself begins with the story of feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread.
And so, because bread is one of the elements of Holy Communion, John 6 provides ample room to reflect on the sacrament. Bread is the unifying metaphor for this whole chapter, it fills the bellies of the crowd, recalls the manna in the wilderness, and draws them to seek a closer, deeper relationship with Jesus.
I look forward to talking about communion with you, and sharing together in the sacrament. This would be a wonderful Sunday to invite someone to worship with you, wouldn’t it? See you in church,