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        Jesus Christ The Bread of Life

        John 6:26-59

        James R. Davis

        Jesus' discourse concerning the bread of life is a sequel to the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. After this miracle many made a vigilant search for Jesus. When they found Jesus, he rebuked them for their motive in seeking him saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26) Overlooking spiritual blessings, they sought the loaves and fishes. One can only wonder at how many seek Christ for material gain.

    Jesus has something far more important for the world than mere physical blessings. Jesus told the multitude not to apply all their energies to obtaining food that perishes. (John 6:26,27.) He did not tell them that men are not to honestly labor for daily bread, but that they are not to make this their first and supreme concern. Jesus taught that one's primary concern should be satisfying the spiritual appetite. (Matthew 6:25-33.) Man is to labor for that "meat which endureth unto everlasting life." (John 6:27.)
    Materialism fails to satisfy men; it can satisfy only for the moment. The material food that Jesus had miraculously provided for the hungry multitude satisfied them for the moment. But the following morning those same people were again surrounding Him seeking further material manifestations.
    For too many people in our modern society, life consists merely of accumulating things. We have stressed the physical to the exclusion of the spiritual and eternal. We emphasize food, clothing, a good time, to the exclusion of all else. Isaiah warned, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And you labour for that which satisfieth not?" (Isaiah 55:2.)
      What Shall We Do?
    The Jews placed great emphasis upon works as the means of salvation and Jesus' mention of works led them to ask, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" (John 6:28.) They wanted to know what they could do to win God's favor. Jesus reply was simple, "believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)
    It was quite clear to these unbelieving Jews that Jesus professed to be the long awaited Messiah, but they wanted a sign that would signal that Jesus was the one through whom all blessings flow. They were willing to concede that he was some great teacher (Matthew 16:14.), but to believe that He was sent from God was too much. The demand for a sign was characteristic of the Pharisees. (Matthew 16:1; 12:38.) They wanted some spectacular wonder of their own choosing. If Jesus could feed them with manna from heaven as Moses had fed their fathers for forty years then they would believe. They thought that Jesus' feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two small fish was inferior to what Moses had done.
    The crowd had seen Jesus' works and yet they believed not. (John 6:36.) Jesus had turned the water to wine in Cana of Galilee. (John 2:1-11.) They saw the miracles that he did while at the Passover. (John 2:23.) He had healed the Nobleman's son (John 4:46,54); the invalid of thirty-eight years had been made whole. (John 5:1-9.) Jesus fed the 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish. (John 6:1-13.) Yet none of these miracles had influenced them to believe. One can only wonder at what it would take to persuade such people.
    The Jews sought Jesus for their own materialistic and selfish gain. They were looking for an earthly king and food for the body. (John 6:15,26.) They were uninterested only in the results of the "signs" rather than what the signs were saying about Jesus' mission and his power. Many, who came to Jesus for food and healing, failed to grasp the true significance of the miracles. They were not interested in Jesus as Saviour; they were concerned largely with their materialistic worldly benefits.
    Their problem was not a lack of convincing evidence; it was stubbornness and perversity of heart. If Jesus had offered them a loaf made from wheat or barley, they would have accepted him. Yet he had offered them something far better. He had offered them the bread of life and they had rejected it. They had refused to believe even though God had given his seal of approval (John 6:270 by direct testimony (Matthew 3:17), and by signs and wonders. (John 5:36,37.)
    Are we any different today? Man disbelieves because he is determined to do so not because of the lack of evidence. Many already have their minds made up and regardless of the evidence they will not consider faith in God or Christ. Many have closed their minds to the possibility of the Christian faith.
    Jews listened, but they did not learn. There are different kinds of listening. There is a listening of criticism; there is the listening of resentment. There is the listening of superiority; there is the listening of indifference. There is the listening of the man who only listens because, for the moment, he cannot get the chance to speak. The only listening that is worthwhile is the listening which listens and learns. There is no other way to listen to God.
    The Jews resisted Jesus because Jesus did not conform to their prejudices and misconceptions of him. (Matthew 13:15.) They could only see him as the son of Joseph. (John 6:42.) Their misconceptions warped their perception of Jesus. If Jesus had shown a willingness to be crowned king and to feed and arm them for war against Rome, many would have readily accepted him.
    We always want God to conform himself to man's misconception of Him rather than conforming our thinking to the teaching of God. We say, "If God is a benevolent God why is hunger, pain, and suffering prevalent?" In essence, we are saying, "If God will conform himself to what I believe He ought to be then I will believe."
    The same reasoning is used concerning the plan of salvation. Man says, "I don't believe God would send a man to hell for not being baptized." Man is expecting God to conform his thinking to man's thinking. Some believe, deep down in their hearts, that when all is said and done God will accept man as he is, without any change on man's part. He will just scoop us up in his loving arms and save us.
    We must conform ourselves into the image of God's dear Son. He must bring himself to believe in God as he is revealed in the Son. Jesus said, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." (John 14:9.) Again Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.)
    I Am the Bread of Life
     When we reject the supernatural world for the natural world we bring ourselves down to the animal level. Animals can eat, drink, sleep and be contented; but man cannot! While man cannot live without bread, he cannot live by bread alone. Life is more than a mere physical existence. Jesus said, "Is not the life more than meat and body raiment?" (Matthew 6:25.) Man has spiritual longings, which cannot be satisfied by purely physical gratification. Man may scorn the world beyond, but it is a fact that one can neither ignore nor escape. There is a heaven and a hell. Both like the spirit of man are eternal. The man who rejects the supernatural will live in eternity unprepared for heaven.
     Jesus offers to man something far superior to the manna that God fed to the Jews in the wilderness. Moses fed the children of Israel with manna, but they ate and drank only to thirst again --they ate of that bread and died. Jesus promises something that can satisfy the eternal spirit of man. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that he could provide living water forever (John 4:14); and now we see Him telling the crowd of Capernaum that He himself is the true bread of eternal life.
    The crowd didn't catch the nature of Jesus teaching and asked, " . . . evermore give us this bread" still thinking it to be a physical blessing. They were like the prodigal who fed upon the husk --- they wanted food, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and a good time. Only the bread of God could satisfy them.
    The Drawing Power of God
    The hunger for God is universal, but the tragedy of man is that so often we misunderstand our own longings. We do not know that for which we hunger. We pursue many vain goals. Yet, when they are attained, the heart is still unsatisfied. The restlessness and fitful feverishness of our world grows out of the fact that it is a hungry world and is failing to find that for which it hungers. Man has developed an insatiable appetite for the second best, or maybe even the worst and he has allowed his longing for God to lie dormant and for all practical purposes, utterly dead.
    God and man are much like two opposite poles of a magnet, which attract each other. Our thoughts are naturally drawn to God. God has placed in every one of us an insatiable hunger for the knowledge of Him. When the psalmist said, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God, " he was speaking a universal language.
    God seeks man through the attraction of the cross. Jesus said, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:13-17.)
    We fail to recognize the drawing power of the cross. We tend to think of the cross as old fashion and repulsive. The Pharisee failed to understand his need of the cross for he prayed, "God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even the publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." He failed to understand that he was a sinner in need of the blood shed upon Calvary's cross. He had no need of mercy!
    The publican understood his need of mercy -- he stood afar off -- he realized that his sins separated him from God. (Isaiah 59:1,2.) He recognized his need for salvation, his need for forgiveness, and that his sins stood between him and God. He said, "God be merciful to me a sinner" . . . he made no effort to appear worthy.
    We say, "I don't see how a good God could condemn anybody." The question is "How can God save us? The only way is for Christ to suffer . . . there is no other way. Jesus became the substitute for our sins. He satisfied God's justice.
    The drawing power of God is what held Christ to the cross. John said that Christ had nail prints in his hands (John 20:25), but the nails were not what held Jesus to the cross. When the mob reviled him and wagged their heads saying, "If thou be the Son of God come down off the cross" (Matthew 27:39,40), Jesus could have come down from the cross. The one who created the world (John 1:1-3), had at his command twelve legions of angels, who quieted the storm, who raised the dead, could have removed the nails and come down off the cross. But his love for each of us held him there.
    The lovingkindness of God has prompted Him to draw all men to himself through the word of reconciliation that communicates the message of the cross. The words of the prophets were designed to reveal man's need of the cross and to unfold the mystery of redemption through Jesus Christ thereby drawing all men to God. (John 6:44,45.)
    The promise of everlasting life draws men to God. History tells us that civilizations of every age have had an instinctive awareness of an eternal heaven. A study of the tombs of ancient Egypt tells us of the Egyptian's hopes and dreams for the future. Their awareness of such a place as heaven is obvious. The American Indian believed that after death one went to the happy hunting ground. At one point in Danish history when a landowner would die his servants would take their own lives so that they might continue to serve their master in the land beyond.
    Entomologist's study of the Monarch butterflies reveal that they sweep down from the Canadian Rockies to Pacific Grove, California where they cluster in pine trees for the winter. In March they fly off again singly and in small groups. They find milkweed for their young; after laying its eggs the butterfly's work is complete. Scientists believe that each year these beautiful creatures come to the very same trees their ancestors came to. They are completely directed by their instincts. In much the same way, God has planted within the soul of man an instinctive awareness of heaven. Just as the butterfly instinctively finds the right pine trees, so man instinctively directs his thoughts toward heaven.
    In much the same there is the drawing power of God planted in each of us. It is an inducing power, but it is not an irresistible power. The words of the prophets were designed to draw the Jews to God. Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6:44-45 KJV.) Yet the Jews resisted God's teaching. They knew the scriptures, but they would not come to Jesus that they might have life. Jesus said you, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:39-40 KJV.)
    Men Must Believe In God
     "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum." (John 6:53-59.)
     There has been much debate over whether or not Jesus was talking about the Lord's Supper; but one must understand that here Jesus is simply, but emphatically, stating that men must accept Him as the source and sustainer of one's spiritual life. Jesus told the unbelieving Jews, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:24.) Jesus gives life . . . He is the essence and sustenance of life.
     Believing in Jesus Christ is more than a shallow intellectual faith that merely gives mental ascent to the fact that Jesus was some great figure in history. The devils believe and tremble. If you are in doubt about what it means to believe in Jesus Christ ask yourself three questions:
    What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

    Can I believe in Him without knowing what he teaches?

    After knowing what He teaches, can I call myself believing in Him while not doing what He teaches?

It is apparent that believing in Jesus involves learning and imbibing the teaching of Christ . . . dethroning self and enthroning Christ. We must learn and imbibe the life giving word of Christ. One must allow the word of Christ to dwell in his heart to the extent that Jesus takes control of one's body and reigns as Lord in every phase of one's life. Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20.)
Conclusion:
 Contrary to popular opinion believing is work. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29 KJV.)
 Have you ever tried to displace hate in your heart with love, to return good for evil or to practice the golden rule? Have you ever tried loving your enemies or praying for those who despitefully use and persecuteyou? Have you ever wrestled with the difficulty of replacing filthy talking or cursing with words that minister grace to the hearers? Have you tried "Casting down every imagination, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to be obedient to Christ"? (2 Corinthians 10:5.)
 Who said believing isn't work?
 The desires of man's soul are a badge of his superiority. These desires are a mark of our greatness. They are the secret to our spiritual progress. Man cannot be content with a mere physical existence. Man is hungry to know Him who is the Creator of it all. He is hungry for the knowledge of him"
 "Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the Round Ocean, and living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man.

 

 

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