Jesus: The Bread of Life

BreadofLife

Jesus:  The Bread of Life

This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but Jesus can see into the human heart:

Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.  (John 6:23-24 NIV84)

 How can searching for Jesus be a bad thing?  Wouldn’t any religious leader love to have throngs of people looking for him?  As far as Jesus was concerned, motive was everything, and He wasn’t impressed with why they were searching for Him.

Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”  (John 6:26 NIV84)

 The people were looking for Jesus, not because the miracles made them think that Jesus just might be the Messiah, but because they had eaten the bread cakes that Jesus had miraculously provided.  They liked the free food.  They were able to have their fill without working for it.  What were the odds, they thought, that Jesus might be some kind of miracle-working Chef, and that He would make them another meal?

That’s why they were looking for Jesus.  They had no interest in the possibility that He was their Messiah or in spiritual things.  They, like so many people today, were looking for Jesus for what they can get out of Him.

Jesus wouldn’t  have any of that then, and He won’t tolerate that attitude of worldly indulgence and irrational self-interest today.

1.  Jesus satisfies the hungry soul, John 6:26-3

(a)  The insignificance of earthly bread, vs. 26, 27

The people had been filled – that is, their stomachs had been filled.  But what they thought was important was not at all what Jesus thought was important.

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.  (John 6:27 NIV84)

 The people were only interested in food, stuff that rotted, stuff that was not permanent.  Jesus, though, promised the people that belief in the Son would give them so much more.  Jesus’ profound teaching breaks down into four pieces:

“Do not work for food that spoils” = Stop looking only for food or impermanent things like that, as if physical food would be able to meet the needs of life that really matter.

“But work for food that endures to eternal life” = Instead, give to God the work of faith in the Son of God – the “real food” – that feeds your spirit and gives you eternal life.

“Which the Son of Man will give you” = The Son will give of Himself for those who believe in Him.

“On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval,” = God the Father had certified that Jesus was the true Messiah by means of miracles, the testimony of Scripture, of John the Baptist, and of Jesus Himself.

Only Jesus satisfies.

(b)  Crisis of belief, vs. 28-33

Jesus’ statement was not appreciated by the crowd; they were not spiritually minded and therefore the wisdom of the Spirit was lost on them.  When Jesus used the word “works,” their worldly minds took Jesus literally, thinking He was telling them they had to do something.

Jesus answered, The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.  (John 6:29 NIV84)

 Jesus’ answer is the “work of faith.”  What does He mean by that?  First, Jesus is not teaching that salvation is anything but by grace alone.  Salvation is the work of God and of Christ and it is a gift to sinful man.

However, while salvation is a wholly a work of God, man must offer to God the “work of faith.”  Hendriksen uses an illustration from nature.  The roots of a tall oak perform a seemingly impossible amount of work in drawing water and minerals from the soil to feed the leaves and the rest of the tree.  And yet, these roots do not themselves produce these necessities but receive them “as a gift.” Likewise, the “work of faith” is the work of receiving the gift of God.

Jesus’ listeners just didn’t get it at all.  In fact, they wanted to “see His credentials!”  Imagine a mere man asking to see God’s I.D.  But this was essentially what the crowd was doing.

So they asked him, What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?   (John 6:30 NIV84)

As if getting fed all those bread cakes from out the blue wasn’t enough!  But they assumed Jesus would simply comply with their request to perform for them.  When Jesus fed them, it reminded them of Moses and the manna from heaven, so they were asking for the same kind of sign.   Our Lord’s answer in verses 32, 33 can be broken down into three points:

(i)  Moses was only God’s agent; all he did was instruct his people to go and gather the manna up.  It was God the Father who gave the it.

(ii) The manna from heaven was mere food for the body.  It was a type of the true “bread from heaven” that was to come, the Son of God.

(iii)  The manna God gave the Israelites, though coming from heaven, offered only physical nourishment.  But Jesus, the “true bread of life,” gives eternal life.

(c)  A gracious offering, vs. 34, 35

Sir, they said, from now on give us this bread. Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  (John 6:34-35 NIV84)

The request the people made is reminiscent of the Samaritan woman’s request for the “water of life” (4:15).  In that story, as in this one, the question reveals the ignorance of those making the request. They just didn’t grasp what Jesus was getting at.

Jesus, unlike bread cakes, unlike the miraculous manna, and unlike natural water, is the only permanent satisfaction in life.  But appropriating this satisfaction all hinges on one thing:  faith (or belief).  To Jesus, that meant “commitment,” but not commitment to miracles or to free meals.  Faith means commitment to Jesus, the Person.  With Him, faith all boils down to a relationship.

2.  Jesus gives eternal life, John 6:36-47

The response of the Jews who had been following Jesus revealed what was in their hearts.  Jesus gave the the clearest self-revelation He could and still they were clueless!  To these our Lord said:

But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.   (John 6:36 NIV84)

This was similar to what He told the the Jews in Jerusalem:

yet you refuse to come to me to have life.  (John 5:40 NIV84)

The Jews in Jerusalem had turned against Jesus, and now those in Galilee were about to do exactly the same thing.  But Jesus was not “a man alone.”  He was not some weakling wandering around with no resources!

What a person believes in relation to Jesus Christ in this life determines their place in the next life.  So Jesus moves along to the eternal issue because it really is the only issue that counts.

(a)    An eschatological mission, vs. 36-40

“For my Fathers will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  (John 6:40 NIV84)

These Jews, who thought they knew all about God, were really getting slapped down by Jesus in a very gentle way.  He is the “bread of life.”  He is the Son of God, sent to Earth to do the Father’s will.  If these Galileans want to see God the Father, they’re going to have to believe in the Son.  There is NO other way.  So, what about these Jews on the “last day?”  At the end of all things, what these Galileans think about Him will determine whether or not they have eternal life.

What’s worse, if these people turn against Jesus, they are really turning against God.  No wonder the Jews wanted to crucify Him.  He poked holes in their skewed religion.   Had these people really known God the Father, they would have recognized that Jesus was His Son.  They didn’t, so it revealed their hearts!  And what was clear to Jesus at this moment in time (the state of the people’s hearts) would be revealed to all on the last day.

For Jesus, His earthly mission was not filled with duties for His present generation.  Certainly He healed a lot of people.  Certainly He fed the hungry.  Certainly faith in Christ gives believers of every generation a better quality of life.  But, Jesus’ mission 2,000 years ago was essentially all about the future.  Where will YOU spend eternity?  The answer to that question is determined by how you answer a single question today:  Who do you think Jesus Christ is?

(b)  A contentious teaching, vs. 41-47

By this point in the chapter, the people searching for Jesus had had more than enough.  The liked the bread cakes.  They may  have even liked it when Jesus talked about love.  But these claims He had just made were too much!

Who did these Jews think Jesus was?  They thought He was a mere man, the son of a carpenter.  They were blind to the truth.  Some use the word “veil,” that is, their eyes were veiled to the truth.  That’s one way to look at it.  But, really, their view of Jesus – that He was just Joseph’s son – was determined by their hard hearts, the result of generations of bad teaching from a religion gone wrong, and by a worldview that had NO room for Jesus and His claims.

They had been so programmed to think a certain way and to see the world in a certain way, they refused to believe the evidence of their own eyes.  They were completely selfish, wanting to find Jesus for the free food, instead of following Jesus because He is the only way to God.  Do you see how awful sin is?  It promises a “good life” but gives only death.

 

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