The Bread of Life

Introduction: My grandson Brady said to me, “Pops, we really need to go fishing today”.  We often confuse what we want with what we need.  But God, as our perfect Father, knows exactly what we need. In His introduction to the model prayer in Matthew 6 Jesus said, Matt 6:6-8 – But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

  • What do we really need
  • How does God provide for us?
  • Our theme verse for May speaks about God’s provision: Matthew 5:6 – 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
  • We need righteousness. Jesus says that Christians don’t just need it, they want it desperately. He also says that God supplies it. When I studied this verse more closely, there was a certain event that keeps coming to my mind.

 

I.  The Feeding of the 5,000 – a miraculous meal – Read Mark 6:30-43  (several years ago, a local Baptist church advertised that they were going to recreate Jesus’ miracle on Sunday and feed 5,000 people with fishes and loaves. My brother Mike worked at Burger Chef and they ordered a host of fish sandwiches to be ready on Sunday. Not exactly a replication of what Jesus did here.) What did Jesus do here?

A. He saw their need. But Jesus did not see the same need that the disciples saw. 

1.  Jesus saw the crowd coming to him and he was moved with compassion. Why?  Mark 6:34 – 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.  Jesus saw their need for spiritual nourishment. So he taught them. The spiritual need was always the first thing Jesus noticed about people. What about us?

2.  In contrast, as the day came to a close, the disciples became concerned about where all these people were going to get food.  Mark 6:35-36 – 35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”  It is easy to put ourselves in their place. We are often concerned about the physical needs and the logistics of filling those needs. (Mary & Martha – a contrast is assessing what was needed.)

a.  When they brought the problem to Jesus, He told them to solve it themselves – “You give them something to eat.”  Jesus and the disciples knew they could not feed all these people.  (200 denarii worth of bread – 8 months salary for the average worker). Their obvious impotence was designed to drive them to rely upon God (Jesus). 

b.  Andrew assesses the situation and finds only a boy with a meager lunch sack (5 loaves & 2 fishes). “What are these among so many” – there is no way to satisfy the need.

c. Jesus could certainly meet the physical needs, and would, but their most urgent and important needs were spiritual. Jesus was concerned about them spiritually.

B.  He satisfied their need. In response to the physical need, Jesus had them sat down and instructed the disciples to distribute the young boy’s lunch, “as far as it would go”. How far did it go?   Notice John’s account:  John 6:11-14 – And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

1.  It is important for us to see what this miracle evidenced. Jesus was in control. He was able to manipulate the limitations of these few provisions to satisfy completely. There was no way this small amount could satisfy all of these people’s needs without God’s intervention. But with Jesus what seemed exhaustible became inexhaustible.

2.  This miracle excited Jesus’ followers so much they decided to forcibly make him their king. (John 6:15) Jesus took Himself out of the picture, awaiting the opportunity to teach them what they were missing.

C.  He rebuked their shallow faith: After being reunited with the crowd Jesus immediately addresses their carnal motivations. John 6:26-27Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”  Like many today these followers were looking for something to fill a physical need. But Jesus draws an important distinction here:  food that perishes vs. food that endures. Put your effort into acquiring food that endures to everlasting life. (Notice he tells them to work for it, but then says that the Son of Man will give it to them.)

 

II. Jesus is the Bread of Life:  John 6:35  5 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.  Bread symbolizes the most basic food or nourishment. It gives life through daily sustenance. It satisfies a basic and constant need. Jesus is the satisfaction of our spiritual needs – all of them.  How does He satisfy us?  First consider these facts:

  • Our spiritual needs cannot be satisfied by anything in the material world – shopping will not cure a guilty conscience. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Solomon discovered that there is a constant emptiness in the pursuit and acquisition of material things. – vanity and a striving after the wind.
  • Our spiritual needs are far more important than our physical needs – Why does God make us to be hungry every few hours? Deuteronomy 8:3 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. The presence of physical hunger is intended to show us our limitations and drive us to God – But not for physical food, but the words of God. Later in the midst of His own temptation After being hungry for 40 days, Jesus recalled this scripture. – Matthew 4:4 “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

A. Jesus satisfies our need through His words. As with physical bread, the “bread of life” imparts life when it is eaten. – John 6:51-58  51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.58 This is the bread which came down from heaven — not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

1. How can one “eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood” (v.53)?

a. Not literally, of course. The Jews could only think of this possibility, and they rejected Jesus accordingly.

b. Not in the Lord’s Supper. The bread and grape juice represent the body and blood of the Lord, but that does not seem to be under consideration in John 6. There is no sacramental value in the Lord ‘s Supper.

2. One “eats” of Jesus’ flesh and “drinks” of His blood as he receives and “digests” the truth which Jesus taught – The life giving ability that Jesus offers is connected with His words.

  • John 6:45 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
  • John 6:47 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
  • John 6:63 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

3.  Jesus was seeking for disciples who would put their trust in Him and guide their lives by His words. They wanted a King – Jesus was looking for subjects who would accept His authority – not just His physical bread.

4. The one who eats of the Bread of Life “abides” in Christ, and Christ in him –  John 6:56 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.          

  • Robert Turner writes …”Christ dwells in us, and we in Him, to the extent we ‘feed on Him’. This is done by receiving His words, assimilating, digesting them, and allowing them to become a part of us. They produce life to the extent we live by them, following Christ”

5.  This event proved to be a turning point for many. Jesus’ demanding words turned many away, never to return. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66)

a.  It became a test for even His closest disciples:  John 6:67-69 – 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”  68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Many disciples missed it, but not Peter. He understood the value of Jesus’ words. He was hungering and thirsting for a closer relationship with God, and knew that Jesus’ words were the answer. Nothing else would satisfy.

6.  Man has a need which God alone can satisfy. “Thou has made us for Thyself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in Thee”  (Augustine). Jesus Christ’s ability to identify and satisfy our deepest needs is one proof of His deity. Have you ever marveled how inexhaustible the words of the Bible are? Just looking, you would think their ability to satisfy and sustain us would be limited (“what is this among so many?”) Yet when we digest them, they always satisfy, and we never go hungry.

7.  As Paul concluded his letter to the Philippians his heart was filled with a sense of satisfaction. His needs had been met. Not only physically, as the Philippians had sent financial support, but spiritually, as he knew of their faithfulness.

  • Phil 4:11-1311 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ* who strengthens me.
  • Phil 4:18-20 – 8 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

B.  Jesus satisfies our need through His blood. You need the righteousness that only the blood of Jesus can provide.    Rom 3:21-26 – But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all* who believe. For there is no difference;   23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

1.  But thanks to be God you have a High Priest who is able to offer the sacrifice you need.  Hebrews 4:14-16 4 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Conclusion:  What do you need? (to go fishing?)  You need mercy. You need the forgiveness of sins.