John 6 Part 3: The Bread of Life
The title of this lesson comes from Jesus’ declaration He is the Bread of Life come down from heaven. He is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. We realize the Word of God which is to be engrafted into our souls, is truly in every sense, “soul food.” So let’s pick up the story the day after the feeding of the five thousand.
The next day the crowd finds Jesus on the other side of the lake. Because there had only been one boat and Jesus had not entered it with his disciples they were curious as to how Jesus got to the other side. “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Notice Jesus does not satisfy their curiosity. Jesus knows why we are seeking Him, because He knows the heart of men. Your carnal nature always wants something. James said in James 4: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” We read in John 2, many people were following after Jesus when they saw the miracles, but Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew what was in their hearts.
Jesus said in essence, I know what you are looking for- not me, but what I can do for you. You want the gifts, not the giver. You want it for your own pleasure. Now what Jesus says next closely parallels closely to what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus told her as He is telling this crowd, He is the source of eternal spiritual life. Today people are no different; their thoughts rise no higher than their physical needs, their own pleasure. They wanted another miracle. If Jesus was not going to provide miracles, or as John referred to them, “signs”, they would not follow Him. This is why it was said, ‘the Jews demand a sign.’ We will see in this passage, when Jesus does not provide a miracle and his teaching becomes difficult, many would leave him.
Jesus tells the crowd, “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 has placed his seal of approval.” (Remember what happened at Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from heaven, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”) Jesus has told these people as he told the woman at the well, there was a water which could satisfy her thirst so she would never thirst again. Jesus was pointing to things which sustain our physical life. Jesus used the metaphors of bread and water which are necessary for physical life to spiritual bread and spiritual water for eternal spiritual life. John told us at the very beginning of the Gospel of John this fact: “In Him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not understand.” Jesus used the physical to illuminate spiritual truths. John had purposely referred to Jesus as the Word who was with God and was God. And it was the Word which created everything and now the Word had become flesh and dwelt among them.
In creation, God created everything and when He did, He also created the source or resource from which that living thing would derive and sustain its nourishment for life. For example, He placed fish in the seas and waters for the seas and waters would be their source of life, providing everything the fish needed for life. Away from the source of life brings death; a fish out of water cannot survive. Same for the plants and vegetation which were sustained by the earth. He, also created Adam from the dust of the ground, but it was God’s own breath which gave Adam life. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and Adam became a living soul. The fruit of the earth sustained Adam and Eve’s physical life, but their spiritual life was dependent on their relationship with God. He told Adam and Eve they would eat the plants of the field, but because of their sin, their physical bodies which came from ground would return to the ground. God told them when they sinned, they would die spiritually. They did die spiritually the moment they sinned, but physically they would die later. Pick a flower from your garden and it will die, for it is away from the source of its life. You can place it in water, but water is not enough to keep it alive for long. Adam and Eve died spiritually, but they lived on for a while, just as a rose might maintain its beauty for a while after being picked and placed in water, but will soon wither and return to dust. When Adam and Even sinned, it was if they were flowers which decided they no longer needed the earth from which they drew their being. The flower which says to the earth, I am pulling out of here. I want to be placed in a lovely vase. The plucked flower soon withers and fades. The same is true of the branch and the vine. Jesus will later give us the metaphor of the vine and the branch in John 15. But clearly tells us the branch can do nothing apart from the vine. They believed the lies of the deceiver that there was a more desirable, pleasurable life apart from God. Mankind has been believing that lie ever since the Fall.
But the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth has by His divine power given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. He will provide all that you need.
We were born spiritually dead but physically alive. This is why we must be born again, spiritually. The flesh came from the earth, it will return to the earth. Dust to dust was not spoken of the soul. The spirit within man lives on, for the spirit came from God, our spirits are immortal. Since God made bodies of plants, animals and man from earth the bodies return to earth. Dust to dust. He told Adam his body would return to earth. But this was not spoken of the soul, the spirit of life in man. The spiritual part of man cannot die. This is consistent teaching throughout OT and NT. Ecclesiastes12: 7 tells us: “And the dust returns to the ground from which it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” The body and the spirit separate at death. Then one’s spirit will exist in one of two places – heaven with God, or hell with the fallen angels. We who believe will have our works judged for rewards, but live forever with the One who loved us and gave His life for us. Jesus promised eternal life to those who believe in Him. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives in and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? “ ( John 11) Paul believed this and wrote: “ For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. “ (Romans 8) Death is not the end of existence. We will return to God to spend eternity with Him or without Him.
Q AND A
At the mention of the word, work, the crowd wanted to know what works they must do which God requires. What follows is what we would call a “Q and A” session. Jesus answers their question: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” Jesus is saying I am the source of eternal life. Just as Jesus had told the woman at the well: “If you knew the gift of God and the who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. “ (John 4) Jesus is telling this crowd, I am the bread of life.
The peoples ask a question and Jesus gives an answer. But people want to believe in something they can see. I will believe it when I see it, is the answer of the carnal man. Give us a sign. In Luke 16, Jesus tells of a rich man in Hades. He is in torment and thirst. He sees Lazarus, the beggar at rest in Paradise at Abraham’s side. He wants just a drop of water, but Abraham tells him there is a gulf which separates them that now cannot be spanned. The rich man in Hades then asked Abraham something remarkable. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his brothers of this place of torment. Abraham replied, they have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them. (Remember Jesus said, Moses spoke of Him.) No, father Abraham, replied the man, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. He said to him, ‘if they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. “The crowds had seen Jesus raise a man named Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, from the dead after he had been buried for 4 days. And more than 500 people had seen the resurrected Lord after His public death. Death always involves separation, but the spirit does not die, it returns to God for judgement of works for rewards or judgement of sins for punishment, in the place of eternal separation from God. And it that awful place of darkness there are those now who want us to witness to their loved ones, so they will not end up in hell.
At the mention of the word- work, the crowd wanted to know what works they must do which God requires. And Jesus answers their question: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” Jesus is saying I am the source of eternal life to those who believe in me, the one sent by God. This is all God requires- faith and trust in His Son.
Now the Q and A continues: “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: He gave the bread from heaven to eat.”
Here is Jesus’ answer: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Their answer: “Sir, they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
His reply, his declaration: “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. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.* All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away (no wise cast out, KJV)*. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day I.” Jesus tells us, it is the Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son will be saved. Peter tells us God is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. And remember what Jesus said in his discourse with the Jews who questioned him about healing the man on the Sabbath. “These are scriptures which testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me.”(John 5:40) *he Father gives Jesus all who will come to him, that is election. And whoever comes to Him or refuses to come to Him is an act of free will.
Their response: They grumbled. “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say, I came down from heaven.”?
Jesus reply: “Stop grumbling among yourselves. (Remember how the Jews grumbled in Exodus.) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up the last day. It is written in the Prophets.” Jesus is telling us the Father uses the Word of God, for it is alive and powerful to draw us. Jesus is the Word of God in flesh. It is through the teaching of the Word of God that God draws people to the Savior. I believe, the Father also draws people with His love, but not all people respond. As I have said many times, Jesus wept for Jerusalem and said how often He had longed to gather them as a mother hen would her chicks. The word longed speaks of a great desire, so great it brings the Lord Jesus to tears. He had longed to gather them, but says they were not willing. It is the will of God that saves, it is the will of man that damns. A sinner hears, learns, and comes as the Father draws him or her. A mystery to me, but the truth nevertheless. We are born again of the incorruptible seed, the Word of God. Jesus said this is the verdict, light has come into the world, but men preferred darkness because their deeds were evil. People hate the light because it reveals how ugly they really are.
Jesus then tells the crowd: “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me.” This is why Jesus said It is written in the Prophets, why He told the disciples in his resurrected ministry that Moses and the Prophets spoke of him. “I tell you the truth; he who believes in me will have everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, yet they died. But there is a bread which comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
In the desert after God had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, God sustained the Israelites for 40 years with manna from heaven. The word manna in Hebrew means “what is it.”(Exodus 16) The manna came at night from heaven, and Jesus came to this earth when sinners were in darkness. The manna was white, which represents purity, just like Jesus. It was sweet to taste and met the needs of the people. It sustained their life. The Word of God is life-giving, life-changing and life-sustaining. JESUS IS THE WORD OF GOD.
Now the manna was on the ground so one had to stoop down to pick it up. If they did not pick it up, they would have walked on it. The Lord offers Himself as the bread of life. Take Him into our life which is what eating and drinking represent.
Jesus then says his flesh is the bread of life which he offers to the world. God fed the nation of Israel for 40 years in the desert, but Jesus offers Himself to the world, not just for our sins, but for the sins of the world. Jesus is using a human analogy to convey a spiritual truth. Food is essential for life, and Jesus is essential for eternal life.
The question arises from the Jews who are now arguing among themselves. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Jesus answers them: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.” At the mention of blood man are turned off. But we know life is in the blood. Jesus is proclaiming to be greater than the manna in the desert, for those people ate it and died. He said those who hear him and believe him have everlasting life.
“On hearing this, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” It was not hard to understand, it was hard to accept it once you understood it. It was true on that day, it is true to this day. Aware of the grumbling among his disciples, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascent to where he was before? “
Then Jesus explains that his language was figurative and spiritual, not actual and physical.
“The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet some of you do not believe.” Jesus was referring to Judas who would betray him.
We read from that time, many of those who had been following him, turned back and no longer followed him. Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Do you want to leave me, too?” Simon Peter answered Jesus back. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One from God.”
How do we eat His flesh and drink His blood? Through the Word of God, the incorruptible seed which gives life. At the Last Supper Jesus explains the visual picture of his body and shed blood as necessary for the new birth: He took the bread and broke it, and said this is my body, broken for you. Take and eat. Then he poured the wine. ( Remember, his first miracle? He turned the water into wine.) Jesus said this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many, take and drink. Eating and drinking is believing and receiving.
There is a movement called the ‘emerging church’. Those pastors who are a part of this movement do not say like Billy Graham said for years in his crusades, “The Word of God says…”.Listen to them and watch them. Ask yourself is the Bible, the Word of God in their hands and they are preaching and teaching out of it. They, with good intentions, want to lead people to Christ, but sense his name is offensive. As far as good intentions go, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Instead they will say a man named John who was a disciple of Jesus said. They have softened their stance on sin; they do not want to offend people in the hope of being ‘seeker friendly.’
But the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. Paul was not ashamed of it socially, morally or intellectually. The Word of God is alive and powerful as a two-edged sword, it divides asunder the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The preaching and teaching of the Word of God always leads to a sifting of the hearts of the listeners. God draws sinners to the Savior through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of sin and righteousness. To be saved a person must hear the Word of God, not about the Word of God.
Those who reject His Word, will reject the Savior. Those who receive His Word will receive the Savior. They will experience the new birth, eternal life. We have a world, a society which obviously is desperately seeking to satisfy something in their life, a gnawing hunger for which they have accepted the bread of deceit from the father of lies. We are to offer the Bread of life. We are to feed the hungry.
Paul warns us in 2 Timothy of what will occur in the last days, men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. @ Timothy 4. People want to hear words, teaching in keeping with their own evil desires. They will not listen and learn from the Father, from the Word of God.