10th Sunday after Pentecost
“Wonder Bread (of Life)”
 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.  When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”  Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”  Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”  Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?  Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which[a] comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
I believe that bread is a miracle. You can take anything and put it on bread and it’s perfect. Jelly? Put it on a biscuit! Ham? Throw it between 2 slices! BBQ? Pile it on Texas toast! Hotdogs an Chili? You gotta have a bun! Butter? spread it all over a warm loaf at your favorite restaurant.
It just blows me away that you can transform a meal with a piece of bread. It has everything you need and most of it today is fortified with all sorts of nutrients. When I was growing up we ate Colonial white bread, and occasionally Sunbeam. What was your favorite bread or what brand does your family use?
Now, what we have here is a loaf of Wonder Bread. The company started in the 1920s and the brand became a household name through the 20th century for many reasons.
Wonder Bread was one of the first companies to slice their bread and THEN package it. You couldn’t buy pre-sliced bread before that. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “That’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!” Yeah, that came about because of Wonder Bread in the 1930s!
In the 1940s, they were one of the first companies to have enriched bread, adding vitamins and minerals to the bread. This is important because these vitamins helped fight off many diseases that were common in the 30s and 40s before we had vaccinations and medicine for them. BREAD DID THAT!
Into the 1950s, they were the first company to have both dating on the packaging and nutritional information, something we check for and pay attention to every day now! The company paved the way for the bread industry as we know it and had many first-time accomplishments.
Now, I know that not many of you consider bread to be a miracle, but there are times when a good sandwich is hard to beat. Raise your hand if you perk up or smile when the waitress brings the bread before the meal? Do some of you go to Olive Garden for the breadsticks or O’Charley’s for the rolls? There’s a lot we’d do for bread. But it tends to be a universal symbol for feeding the hungry or a sign of food in general. What was one of the neighborly things you do in order to welcome a family into a new home? You’d bake them or take them bread.
In our text this morning, Jesus has just feed the 5 thousand+ people who were hungry. After the miracle of multiplying the fish and the loaves, people are absolutely astonished; you might even say they were caught up in wonder, at the thing that Jesus has done. They attempt to find Him later, seeking after more bread. Jesus sees through the reason for their searching for Him and warns them to seek after things that are eternal and not material.
It was ok that the people admired this wonder, but which wonder were they focused on? Often times we get focused on something that we think is wonderful or “full of wonder.” It becomes the most amazing thing and we’ll do just about anything to get it. But when our wonder is placed on the wrong thing, we get less than desirable results.
Jesus wants the crowd to understand that the miracle they are to focus on is the miracle faith; of putting our whole trust in God and not in gifts or things. One way to put it is to “Love the Giver, not the gift.” The people that day came for more bread. When Jesus tells them not to work for food that perishes but rather food that is eternal, they then want to do the miracles and signs that Jesus has done. They just keep missing the point and putting their faith in the wrong place.
I’ve said for many years now that the only miracle you may ever witness is your own salvation. If you understand the seriousness of sin, the distance between us and God, and all that Jesus endured to save us, then you’ll understand very quickly just how big a miracle faith really is! We’re all sinners and it is those who maintain that understanding, that we are sinners, whose relationship with God will stay the strongest.
The miracle or “wonder” is not in the multiplication of the loaves. The miracle is the birth of faith in the hearts of a people without hope. Unfortunately, the people weren’t looking for faith. They were looking to fill their stomachs. Even during the exodus, the people weren’t completely grateful for the manna bread that God brought them each and every morning. God was simply a supplier. Jesus wants them to understand that true daily bread is faith in Him, the One sent by God to bring salvation. It is truly wonderful that that God provides, but we must always remember that our gratitude is for the Provider, not the provision.
Would you rather be ill and alone with a bowl of ice cream or would you want to be ill and with your mother without any ice cream? My mama ALWAYS makes things better. Her presence gets me through all manner of things in life. Ice cream tastes good for the moment but ends up giving me a stomach ache later.
We’re looking for faith in God, eternity born in our hearts—that’s the wonder, that’s the miracle. God provides this through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven, the Wonder Bread of Life.
You can be fat and full and still miss heaven. Jesus is more than food for our stomachs. He is our sustenance, our life, our all. Believing in Jesus as the Son of God who has come to take away the sins of the world is where we gather our true strength. Jesus Himself is the daily bread, the bread of life. He is our wonder bread; enriched, packed with vitamins and minerals, and the best part is He has no expiration date. Now that’s the bread I want.
And as we consume this Wonder Bread of Life, we maintain our relationship with Jesus. We take Christ into our selves through our daily walk. Through our membership vows as Methodists we nurture our relationship with God with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. These 5 areas are the best way to consume the wonder bread of life. Through faith we will see God most clearly because we are focused on Him, the wonder-maker, not just the wonder itself.
Learn from the crowd in our scripture today. See that our wonder must be placed in Christ and not in material things.