Letter to the Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are
members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your
anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let
them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share
with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for
building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal
for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and
wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be
imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave
himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
The Gospel of John 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and
whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that
came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph,
whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from
heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can
come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up
on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’
Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone
has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very
truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your
ancestors 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. 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.”
This morning’s reading from John’s Gospel echoes last
week’s Gospel reading. It tells us that people were angry and
intolerant at hearing Jesus say, “I am the bread of life come down
The people of his hometown knew Jesus’ family. His words
didn’t make sense to them. Besides being familiar, Jesus was
claiming to be someone extraordinarily special, someone ultimately
taking the place of the only known Judaic source of God’s
instruction and revelation, Mosaic Law.
That day, people heard Jesus’ words as both confusing and
blasphemous. Yet, a few of those people would later come to
understand Jesus as giving himself to God as a sacrifice of love, an
offering of his life with the intention of giving life to those
ensnared in the sins of the world.
Jesus entrusted his life’s examples, teachings and mission to
his disciples and all of his followers who would come to believe in
Several years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Saul
from Tarsus, a Roman citizen and an ultra-conservative Jewish
rabbi, encountered the risen Christ Jesus. His life was forever
transformed. Saul became known as the Apostle Paul. And, Paul,
as you know, is our church’s patron.
Paul became one of the most influential early followers of
Jesus. Paul’s letters to Christian communities he either planted or
knew of color the theological perspectives of many Christians
today. The majority of Paul’s letters contained within the
Christian New Testament address specific issues and situations.
Yet, the letter we commonly call The Letter to the Ephesians
doesn’t address specific issues or situations as much as being a
guideline for how Christians are to live within the Christian
community and in the world.
It does us well to remember that Paul’s mission was to share
the good news of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles, or non-Jews. The
Gentile world of the 1 st century AD embraced not many protocols
of behavior, except in relation to the Emperor and other ruling
authorities. Manners, sensitive language, sexual restraint,
sobriety, honesty and truth telling were all up to the individual,
since there were few social norms within the diverse Roman
society. Most Gentiles had little social constraint.
Paul is writing to Gentile Christians, instructing them how to
behave in this new life in which they are participating as believers
and followers of Jesus. Paul is offering specific behaviors to people
who have left behind a pagan / Gentile lifestyle, new behaviors,
spiritually healthy behaviors reflecting the Christ they now love and
This way of living includes: honesty, expressing anger
without sinning, speaking in a manner that builds up another
person and the community, being tenderhearted, forgiving and
loving. Paul urges these Christians to live this lifestyle both inside
the Christian community and outside as a witness of Christ
to the world.
I never made the connection until very recently that the Greek
word for Christ is Christos and the Greek word for kindness is
Chrestos. Paul praises a lifestyle embracing Christos Chrestos,
Christ’s kindness, compassion and forgiveness. For in showing
kindness, compassion and forgiveness we imitate God’s great love for
us given through Christ Jesus.
In the book, Christian Reflections, C.S. Lewis writes: “Our
whole destiny seems to lie…in being as little as possible ourselves,
in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed; in
becoming clear mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not
ours.” You and I will always be ourselves, with our own gifts and
talents. skills and peculiarities, but the destiny to which we are
called as Christ Jesus’ followers is to reflect Christ’s image in all
aspects of our life.
On a warm day, about a month ago, I stopped in McDonald’s
for my favorite afternoon treat – a Carmel Frappe. I was in the
drive-thru lane. When it was time to pay for my treat I was
surprised by the words, “Your order has already been paid for by
the person in front of you.” I smiled and handed the cashier a $5
bill. I told the young lady, kindness always needs to be passed on.
When I arrived at the pick-up window, two McDonald’s
workers said to me, “Would you like another frappe besides the
one you ordered? We made two by mistake, and we’re not allowed
to have it.” I gladly received both with a big smile.
Sharing kindness at McDonald’s may not always
have a payoff.
Reflecting Christ Jesus’ kindness, compassion and
forgiveness is a much-needed beacon of hope that will bring joy to
your heart. Your kindness, compassion and forgiveness shared in
Jesus’ name will open eyes and minds, and help Jesus fulfill God’s
mission of sharing refreshing, meaningful love-focused life with all
in our world.