One of man’s many temptations is to separate what God has joined together. I’m not talking about marriage, but of trying to separate the union of body and soul. Pitting them against each other or thinking that one has nothing to do with the other. As if, what you do with the body has no effect on the soul and what you do to or with your soul has no physical consequences.
You have heard the commercial, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Meaning that whatever you do in Vegas will have no consequences whatsoever. So then, going to a brothel in Vegas will have no consequences to either body or soul. C’mon, to believe this is to be a fool.
But being the fools we are we insist on trying divide ourselves; to split our body and soul. This is the heresy called Gnosticism, which teaches that body and soul are not joined. It teaches that the physical, the bodily things are evil. The things of the soul like knowledge and spirit are good. They pit the body against the soul so much so that the desire is to rid oneself of the body and attain a spiritual form only. In other words, it is pretty much what most Mainline Protestants believe. That when we leave this body, good riddance. We go to heaven freed from the body and will be bopping around in the clouds like Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Look, to show you how dangerous this kind of thinking is, think in terms of Jesus. According to gnostic reckoning, the physical, human nature of Jesus is by definition evil and corrupt. It was only His spirit that was divine and good. In other words, it denies the Incarnation. It denies the communication of His human and divine natures. In their eagerness to deny the flesh, they state that Christ only suffered and died physically. His spirit was somehow detached and removed from all suffering and death. So much for Psalm 22.
This would mean that Christ did not suffer and die like us. He was something different than us. If that is the case then we are not redeemed. Jesus only saved Himself by shedding Himself of His body and attaining true, pure spirit. So much for His bodily resurrection and ours.
In our Gospel, Jesus feeds thousands of people. He uses physical elements of bread and fish from a boy’s basket to fill and satisfy the entire crowd. Not only that, there is more than enough. There are leftovers. Twelve baskets of leftovers are gathered from the crowd. Jesus uses physical, earthly means to satisfy physical, earthy people, and their physical, earthly hunger. God in the flesh provides for the care of the body.
Christ also provides care for the soul. He tests Philip in order to strengthen Philip’s faith. Jesus later goes on to feed the souls by teaching the meaning of this miracle that it points to the Lord’s Supper. That in eating His flesh and drinking His blood we will receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in body and soul. It is here in John 6 that Jesus teaches us about the interconnectedness of body and soul. Our Lord created body and soul together and sustains them and redeems them together.
So, don’t think that your body is yours to do with as you see fit. It is not. It does not belong to you. It belongs to the one who created you and re-created you in Baptism. You belong to the one whose name you bear, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Neither your body nor the bodies of others are to be treated with disdain. You do not say, “When I die throw my body in the woods or in the dumpster. I don’t care,” because our Lord cares. He cares for the body in life and death. He will resurrect that very body on the Last Day.
Also, you would do well to care for the soul as for the body. Often you are MORE careful with your bodies than your souls. You feed your bodies, exercise them, and look for the best doctors available to care for them. But do you take such great care with your souls? Often the answer is no.
It seems that you will believe, listen to, and follow any crackpot that talks about God or Jesus. You listen to so called preachers on the radio and are sucked in and fascinated with their false teaching of prophesy and the end times. You listen to the Law-oriented cowboy preacher on TV or the kindly, old preacher from South Dakota and could care less that their false teachings would enslave you to the Law again. Enslave you to working out your own salvation. Stop it! Repent! This is not what you learned in Christ. The care of your soul is just as important as care for the body. Quit feeding the soul such garbage!
Jesus withdrew from the crowd when they sought to seize Him. They were only concerned with their physical needs. Jesus withdrew until the time was right when He would allow Himself to be seized and declared King of the Jews and reign from His cross. For in so doing, He provides for you. Physically and spiritually.
Jesus also allowed this crowd to find Him again on the other side of the sea and He fed them spiritually as well. Teaching them that in the physical eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood, they would receive eternal life. That He would abide in them bodily and spiritually and they would abide in Him, bodily and spiritually.
Physically listen to Jesus through His Word and feed your soul. Listen to Him who provides everything that you need, both physically and spiritually. Physically hear of God becoming man and take it to heart. For this God-man, Christ, suffered in body and soul, as you have suffered in body and soul. Hear and believe upon Christ who died so that you might live eternally with Him in body and soul. Hear and believe that you are forgiven and are joined to His death and resurrection by Baptism. Physically eat His very body and drink His very blood so that you are resurrected in body and soul to eternal life.
Do not seek to divide what God has joined. Christ has joined Himself to you in body and soul. You can no more divide body and soul than you can divide His love and care of body and soul. Rejoice rather that every part of you is redeemed and cared by your Lord. You are baptized. You are recreated in body and soul. So now come and partake of the body and blood of Christ to strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting.