I am the Bread of Life

I am the Bread of Life

John 6:22-59

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

what unique words!

No one has ever spoken to you about themselves saying,  “I am the bread of life”

People tend to think of themselves more highly than they ought to. In fact, every person, even those poor unfortunate souls who’s existence is summed up by guilt and shame, think of themselves as better than they are in reality.

Some people throughout history have gone so far in their arrogance, as to declare themselves kings, emperors, and even demi-gods, sent to mankind as some sort of gift from heaven. They claim some sort of divine liniage. and they lead people astray from the living God. They gather for themselves great influence and speak of themselves in the grandest language. Kim Jung Il once boasted of nailing 11 hole-in-ones … in a single round of golf. Kanye West claimed to be a god. and many sect leaders have claimed to be the Christ and led their followers to their death.

But even among those delusional crazies out there, which of them has ever said something like, “I am the bread of life?” which of them has claimed that without them, no one would go on living, or in fact that no one could ever live without them?

I am the bread of life!

 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. (51)

But what does bread of life mean?

How about bread from heaven? … what does that mean?

and if Jesus is this bread, then what in the world does it mean to eat this bread?

Jesus said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (35) But many of you have come to Him, and if you haven’t already had dinner, you’re sitting there hungry right now and you’re going to go home tonight and make yourself a snack before bed.  So what’s that mean exactly?  whoever comes to me shall not hunger.  what sort of truth is found in the statement, “I am the bread of life”?

First of all, you should remember the context of these profound words. 

Just the day before, Jesus had taken the five loaves and two fish, and giving thanks, broke them and handed them out to his disciples who dispersed them to 5000 men and each of them ate as much as he wanted until they were all full.

So that was yesterday. not exactly your typical tuesday right?  Yeah, well, your Jesus is anything but typical!

What he did was truly amazing. They saw it with thier own eyes and held the bread in their own hands and ate it and were filled and nonetheless, none of them could understand how it happened. or what it all meant. No one could explain it. And so of course, they’re looking for Jesus the next day and they’re looking for him to take him away and crown Him as their King. That’s the level of excitement he generated. But they don’t understand the miracle at all, not in the slightest.  and he tells them as much. He tells them that because it’s very important to Jesus that all… every single person who His Father gave to Him and entrusted to Him, that every single one of them understand the true meaning of who Jesus is and what he came to do. It’s very important to Jesus.

In his answer and explanation, he says three times, truly, truly. and he also says a couple times what true food is and what true drinks is. (55)

so Jesus answers them saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (26)

But what’s the problem with that? They saw the miracle. They were amazed by it. They were impressed, oh, they were very deeply impressed. They were moved to action, to real, concrete, serious, action.

The problem is that all they saw in the miracle … was the miracle. it’s like receiving a gift and not recognizing the giver. It’s like looking out on all the wonders of creation and denying the creator. They couldn’t see the forest through the trees. They saw the sign but they couldn’t see who the sign was pointing to.

(slowly) The miracle of the bread and fish is not at all about bread and fish.

Bread is a sign of something greater.  it’s a metaphor. If you don’t understand metaphor, you’re going to have the hardest time understanding the Bible. It’s full of metaphor. Metaphors bring truth to life. they’re powerful and memorable. They make teaching tangible.

Pastor Matt’s sermon on sunday was a prime example of that. If you haven’t heard it, you must. Years from now, it’s going to be one of those sermons that you still vividly remember. It was biblical metaphor at it’s finest and delivered just right in the spirit of metaphor, building and building and expounding on what you intimately know, and then bam, it’s something else, something far greater, and your eyes are opened.

That which the sign represents is far greater than the sign itself. It’s much more real than the sign is. It’s much more glorious. it’s truer.

In fact, bread as you know it, the bread you put peanut butter and jelly on to make a sandwich, that bread can’t even be considered real bread in comparison to the true bread.

This isn’t an exaggeration to prove a point. This is the profoundness of biblical metaphor. God has literally given you things that are so incredibly basic that when all else fails you know that these things are true. things like night and day,  light and darkness, drink and food, pain and pleasure, water and bread…. God has created the world and you in it, in this manner, in order to teach you the truth which lies even deeper than the fundamentals of night and day and food and water, fathers and husbands. The truths that these things point to are older and purer than anything in this material world.

The bread you go out and buy at Safeway is ultimately just as much “real” bread as your Shadow is your sin.

Your Shadow, although it is it’s own real thing, on a deeper level it’s just an image. You can see it and it can teach you something about your sins, that they’re a representation of who you are, that they’re black as coal, that they follow you endlessly, that they come from you but extend farther than your physical reach, that the only hope of escaping them is to be submerged in the light.  … But of course your Shadow isn’t sin. It’s a sign. And to strive to be freed from your Shadow instead of longing to be freed from your sin, … well that’s absurd. that’s a tragedy but that’s exactly what these people were doing. … and that’s what thousands in this city here tonight are doing.

Oh, that God would use you to open their eyes!

Jesus did the impossible. The people had no bread of their own. They were hungry and He freely gave them the bread, that they didn’t have. …

are you starting to see the meaning behind it all? He did the impossible. He created bread that didn’t exist before, that they didn’t posses, that they would have died without. And he offered it to them in amounts that were so large, that even though there were thousands of them, they couldn’t finish it.

And what was their response to all of this? They asked him to give them that kind of bread always. They wanted him to be their King and always provide them with food to eat. They wanted what he could give them right now for this temporary life.

They saw the ray of sunshine, they saw the light, they felt it’s warmth but they didn’t lift their eyes to the heavens and gaze upon that brilliant sun from where it came. They ate the bread, it tasted good. it filled their bellies. it satisfied their hunger, it gave them strength. And they thought, that’s amazing. If only i could get some more of this bread tomorrow, that’d be great. Think of all the time we’d save kneeding and baking bread. …They totally missed the point.

The bread they ate was like a photograph. When someone takes your picture, that picture is your image. The photograph all by itself it isn’t a fake is it? It’s real. that’s you there in the picture. Each of you has a driver’s license that has your photograph on it and that’s an official document. When you look at someone’s photograph you can say, for example, roughly how old they are. You can say whether they’re a man or woman. You might be able to tell where they’re from. Anyone could use your ID to recognize you out on the street. but that picture isn’t really going to help anyone get to know you is it? really get to know you … for person you are. Why not? Because on a deeper, truer level that photograph isn’t you. It’s an image, a sign, a picture. In comparison to you, your photo is fake news. it bears a resemblance to the truth but, it’s not the real deal.

well, these people ate the loaves of bread but they didn’t understand that it was just a sign of the true bread which they also didn’t have, which he supernaturally creates, which he came to give to hungry people and satisfy their souls forever.

(Pause)

So the first question is, what is this bread? bread is an image of what?  (Let them answer)

In the 26th verse, Jesus says that they’re looking for him because they ate the bread that he gave them. Then in the next sentence he says Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life

That’s the answer. Bread represents food, all kinds of food. It symbolizes sustenance, that which sustains, that without which, you perish, you waste away. Bread represents food and food is that which gives you life. or strength to live … Labor for the food that gives life, true everlasting life.

All throughout the Bible, bread is used in this way. Bread represents life or that which gives life to man. It’s what allows him to live, what sustains his life. You only have to read a page or two before you get to this Word of God to Adam, right after he sinned, God says, “… By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19)

He’s not saying that it’s going to be difficult to eat. No, in reality everything written here is an image. Sweat, bread, Earth, dust, it’s all imagery.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread. God is saying that life, that is, to eat bread, is going to be a difficult. Sweat is a symbol for hard labor, for working, for suffering, for pain. to return to the Earth, well, that’s to die. For as long as you live, until you die, your life is going to be characterized by struggle.  it’s going to be difficult for you. you’re going to labor, you’re going to work and suffer.  That’s the story of every human.

Then you have Joseph, who enters onto the stage as the character in the biblical accounts which probably most clearly, most vividly portrays the coming Christ. His Father’s beloved and favored Son, the chosen one, honored and glorified by his father. He was rejected and betrayed and sold by his very own brothers. he was tested and unjustly condemned and tormented but suffered faithfully and for it, he is restored to glory and granted to sit on the throne.  And as King, what does he do? He gives bread to the starving nations. They come to him for bread, that they might live and not die and the world is saved by Him.

this story about Joseph and Israel is just wonderfully written. It’s a great piece of literature. It’s truly  captivating. I’s a true historical account of what really happened but it’s also symbolic.  If you don’t see in this story the true and much more glorious story of Jesus and his church then, in all reality, it doesn’t hold anything of value for you.

Pause 

Jesus offers true non perishing life, life full of vigor and strength, life full of meaning and purpose, a healthy and victorious life. What’s more than that, Jesus shows you that it’s within his power to create such life. … and that desires to give this life to dying men.

How tragic it would be if you looked at that marvelous Jesus and wanted him to give you the kind of bread that crumbles and grows moldy. What a catastrophe!? Oh Lord, have mercy!

That’s the essence of sin.

The Lord raises his voice and testifies against man that he has acted wickedly, that he has rejected God the creator of heaven and earth, the great Giver and abandoned him For that which is here today and tomorrow is gone. (Jeremiah 2:13)

Why!?

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life

If you look at this earthly life as something that ends in death and nothing more, then it’s easy to look at bread and not see its true sense… to look at it as something very common… something ordinary. But if life itself is also an image of something higher… something better…  of a more glorious and truer future life, then it’s easier to see in the bread, a picture of true bread that gives true life and it’s easier to hunger and desire that true bread and labor for the kind of food that doesn’t spoil… the kind that endures,  even unto eternal life.

(pause)

Many times Jesus says here “from heaven”

When God gave manna to his people in the wilderness, it was a sign, that this bread, this food, this life that you have, it’s a gift. it comes to you from above each and every morning. It comes from heaven and heaven is God’s territory. People don’t really belong in the sky. its foreign territory to them. the Earth is the sphere of man’s Dominion. but rain, wind, clouds, the sun, the stars above, these are all from God above. these things belong to him alone. they remain to this day untamed by men which have tamed so much of the natural world. And if this bread fell from heaven then that means that for sure it wasn’t Moses that gave it to them. It was from God himself. God gives life. And he gives every person food for life. It comes from God. There is no life apart from God.

If Jesus witnesses that he is the true bread from heaven this means that he is from God… that he’s God’s man…  the God-Man… that he’s Divine…. that he and the father are one.

This is something that they just wouldn’t accept.

Jesus spoke like no one ever spoke. He did things that no man has ever done. He lived a life no one has ever lived.

But man will not accept that this Jesus is God and Lord and won’t come to him to find life. This only happens when God the Father works miraculously in the hearts of men.

Well okay but if Jesus is this bread and if it’s true that  unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you….  well then, what does it mean to eat this bread?

Jesus said I am the bread of life. whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

so there’s a coming and a believing that’s equated with this eating and drinking. Look at the text. it’s all there.  whoever comes to me shall not hunger. Coming elevates the hunger. whoever believes in me shall never thirst. believing elevates the thirst.

Some of you have come here tonight thirsty. so so thirsty. You’ve drunken from every bottle the world has to offer but your thirst has only grown. Don’t go home tonight without coming to Jesus. He has living water for you. 

… Jesus equates eating and drinking to faith. and this faith, it’s like, well, To return to sunday’s metaphor, it’s the kind of faith that a wife has in her husband. Her faith in him is not the kind of faith that says yeah my husband exist. That’s ridiculous. It’s the kind of faith that believes her husband is the man that he represents himself to be. When he says to her that he loves her and is going to care for her for the rest of his life then she believes it. she believes that he truly does love her. she believes that he’s going to take care of her, that he’s going to provide for her, that he cherishes her, She has faith that love is the foundation… is the the force pushing all his actions toward her. She ceases to worry… to fret. She calmly rests in his care and strong embrace. She trusts her husband and knows that he’s faithful to be there for her… that her needs are going to be met. She doesn’t go looking for love in other men. she doesn’t go searching for things or other people to make her happy… to fulfill her.  She doesn’t go searching for peace or rest or satisfaction in some other man. She comes to her husband and attaches herself to him and abides with him, and remains with him for life. She endures with him through life. She respects him. She knows his voice and is happily obedient to his leading, for she knows that he has laid down his life for her. … and you can sum that all up by saying that she believes in him. … it’s a great mystery but I speak of Christ and the church!

and that kind of believing is the labor you engage in in order to get the food that endures to everlasting life.

Jesus says, Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life and then he clarifies that amazing statement by saying….“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

This believing it’s not passive, it’s active, it’s aggressive. it’s work, it’s a labor of love, It takes charge. this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.

The bread that Jesus gives is his body, his flesh. And here he adds blood as well. So what you get when you talk about body and blood is death. In other words he’ll give himself up as a sacrifice for people. he’ll freely give himself over to be killed.

To eat this true bread … that’s the living bread that gives… that sustains and provides real, true, joyful, everlasting life it is to eat the body and blood of Jesus and that means to come and bow down, to come and fall at the feet of Christ, to believe that he is who he claims to be,… to come and to believe, … to come and to believe. … to Hope in him…  to cast yourself upon him and count his righteous life as your only hope before an almighty God.  It means to live as if you truly believe that he is mighty to save, that he forgives your sins, that he heals your infirmities, that he truly loves you, that he did absolutely everything so that you would have peace with God and even, and even become his child, beloved and glorious.

There’s no need to look for comfort , security, affection, in any other. there is no other name but the name of Jesus that can satisfy your every longing. Here He is, the King of Kings, The prince of peace, the Promised One. He offers himself to the world. Rich or poor, young or old, strong or weak, black or white, it doesn’t matter, the offer is for you. Take and eat… and be satisfied.

Surely if someone eats the bread in this way he will live forever.

pause

But to labor for, that is to trust in, earthly bread, whether it’s the crumbly, gluten-filled kind, or its money or fame or influence or reputation, … and not come to the living bread and not taste it to see that it’s good and sweet ND SATISFYING, then what will happen? It’s written your fathers ate manna and died. Their Hope was only in God doing something for them today. They wanted bread and meat and not forgiveness and righteousness. They wanted to be liberated from the slavery of Egypt and not the slavery of sin, which was their true slave master, far truer and far more oppressive than any slavery the Pharaoh could put them in. Sin binds with tighter shackles than can be found in the deepest, darkest, dampest dungeon here on earth.

Well how about you? What do you want from God? Why are you here looking for Him tonight? Because you’ve really seen a glimpse of him, and you’re mezmorised? and you want more of Him?  or maybe because, you want some treat, something nice for this temporary, fleeting life that is here today and gone tomorrow? Some religious junk food, that tastes good now, but has nothing of true spiritual nourishment? some worldly comfort? a bigger TV and a new leather couch? some superficial pick-me-up?

You can have all that , friends, and still go hungry.

Israel ate that food …. and died. 

Do you understand how scary that is? This is truly terrifying because just as this earthly life is an image of the higher more glorious, true life that is to come, so is that death, which scares people so much, it just shakes them to the core and steals any sort of peace from them. That death which you all know about and is coming for everyone is also merely a shadow of that outer darkness, that complete and utter death. It’s just an image or a sign of that unbearable and unending, truly terrifying death which is described as an unquenchable fire.

And Jesus said to them “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

 Jesus says without me, the true living bread from heaven, you’re going to die, you’re going to die a true death. All the bread in the entire world is unable to give you true life or to sustain true life. I give life. I am the hope of the world. The true life giver, life sustainer. Without me you are hopeless.

but to the one who comes to Jesus he will never go hungry and who believes in him will never be thirsty.

On the new Earth, children of the king probably aren’t even going to eat or drink. These old images are going to pass away. It’s even written that there will be no more night there and there’s not going to be a need for a lamp or the light of the sun because the Lord God himself will be there light and that they’re going to reign forever and ever. But it’s not so important whether you’re going to eat or drink in the kingdom of God on the new Earth, what’s important is that you’re not going to desire more and more from life like you do now. that true life is so full, so abundant that you’ll never be able to consume it all and be left wanting more. You’re not going to have that unending dissatisfaction, that ever present drive for more, for something better. There, the Lord Jesus will reign and those who love him will delight themselves and be satisfied beyond measure, in Him!

So don’t labor for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life

Jesus is that food. And you work for it by coming and believing, by casting yourself upon him. and he will give you life and satisfy your soul’s hunger.

Do you hear the promises of God? each word is truer than the mighty mountains, surer than the sun. He speaks plainly to you.

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Whoever comes to me will not hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst. 

If you have found mercy and Grace in the eyes of God … if you are doing the work of coming and believing, then he looks on you and sees not your dirty evil deeds but sees the clean and pure righteousness of Jesus… and he approves of your faith. Be happy! rejoice! be merry! may your life, even though there be suffering, may it be full of gladness, for you have crossed over from death to life!

You have a precious promise! A loving Lord, a brave savior, the one and only true hero of heaven, the Lover of your soul! He is yours and you are his! who can be against you? what can crush you?! You are more than a conqueror through Him. Go and be imitators of your Jesus. Pass along the bread of life that he has given you. you will not be the poorer for giving away the divine bread, for when you pass it along it multiplies…. be givers of life, messengers of light, children of your father. Go and do as it is written, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

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