First Sunday of Lent: "I Am the Bread of Life"

Call to Worship: Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

O Lord, we turn unfilled to you again.

Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Our souls are restless until we find our rest in you.

Opening Hymn: "O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts" PsH 307

Song of Confession: "Just as I Am" PsH 263, PH 370, RL 467, 468, TH 501, 502

Words of Assurance: John 6:35

"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

Call to the Table: John 6:53-58

Words of Institution: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26


"Alleluia" PsH 640, SFL 87

"In the Quiet Consecration" PsH 302

The Bread: John 6:48-51

During the distribution, sing "What Wondrous Love Is This" PSH 379, PH 85, SFL 169, TH 261 and "Ah Holy Jesus" PsH 386,
PH 93 ,RL 285, TH 248

The Wine: John 7:37

During the distribution, sing "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" PSH 383, PH 98, RL 300, TH 247 and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."PsH 384, PH 100, 101, RL 292, 293, TH 252

Call to Love: 1 John 3:16-24

Closing Hymn: "Beautiful Savior" PsH 46

Sermon Ideas

It will be necessary to explain the background and setting of the text. It is near the time of the Passover, and Jesus has recently fed an enormous crowd with a few limited resources. In the morning, the same hungry people seek him out, not to be healed or changed or because they are looking for an encounter with the Son of God. They simply want to be fed, because what they had eaten last night had been used up. While their feet stand before the Lord God of heaven and earth, their minds are on their bellies. They think of Jesus only as a supply line for meeting their needs. Jesus challenges the people to work for food that will not disappear overnight. His hearers are interested enough to ask what they have to do to find this kind of food. After all, it would solve a lot of their daily problems and struggles.

Jesus, however, is not interested in fixing their temporal problem of finding food. He wants to speak to them of spiritual food. Heavenly bread. They are thinking about today, but Jesus is speaking of eternity. Jesus calls them to himself. He will give them peace and wholeness and righteousness. But those listening to him cannot hear. They begin to recall that he is the son of Joseph. He is nothing special. They know his roots.

Jesus will not listen to their grumbling. His hearers are in the process of celebrating the Passover and celebrating the manna that came from heaven. But Jesus points out that the Jews in the desert ate the manna that his hearers so desperately want, and still they died. What he is talking about is bread that will give them eternal life.

All of our current searching for meaning in life and satisfaction through power, wealth, influence, education, and health is like manna in the desert— we may be able to survive awhile, but in the end we are going to die and be no more. All the things on which we feed, which are supposed to provide meaning and a good life, will be gone. Only one thing, one person can give true life—Jesus Christ.


Gerald L. Zandstra is a pastor at Hillside Community Church, Cutlerville, Michigan.


Reformed Worship 42 © December 1996 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.