The Bread Of Life
Today we are coming out of John chapter five as we begin to explore chapter six
It took us five sermons to get through the 47 verses in chapter five.
And there is also a whole lot to cover here in chapter six
As we enter in to this new chapter of the gospel of John we find some divine timing.
Today, after the sermon, we are going to celebrate the salvation through Gods death by torture with the tradition called communion.
In this tradition, there are the elements of bread and a juice to represent the blood and body of Jesus Christ
This timing is interesting, because in our sermon series, we just so happen to be landing on a portion of our text as Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life.
In our text today, Jesus will make direct statements such as how drinking his blood and eating his flesh, metaphorically, will give eternal life.
The timing of our message and our first communion service as Grace Of The Lord Church is not by my own design
So I would like you to turn in your bibles to John chapter 6.
We are going to read a large portion of this scripture to give some over all context.
This is important. Context. Because when studying the bible, we must not look at the significance of any one verse by itself.
We must have the whole context of the bible, or at least the individual book, or its whole chapter, to understand the real meaning of a verse.
For example, when Jesus will say that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood will have eternal life, there are churches who take that out of context to mean that communion is necessary for salvation.
We will look at a larger view of these scriptures to give the authentic context of Jesus’s words by reading much of this chapter now.
It will require us to gloss over some minor points today.
In our text today, we will find so many great points that could be made, but it won’t be practical to make them all now.
So we will read a large portion and make the primary points in context, and then we will come back to these scriptures to pick out the various other points in later sermons.
Meaning we will review some of this text again in later sermons, but we will be making some more general points today.
It could take us a while to get out of chapter 6. It will take us a good long while to get out of John as a result, but I am in no rush.
I want to let Gods word speak to us on every point that it makes, so that we can boast in having received the fullness of God’s word
Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick.
So sometime after Jesus finished his confrontation with the religious leaders in Jerusalem, he crossed the sea of Galiilee
And notice that a big crowed followed him, why?
Not because they were spiritually seeking
They were attracted to the signs and miracles the Jesus had performed.
They knew he could heal the sick. They heard of the power he was in charge of
They were attracted to what Jesus could do for them.
And Jesus knew it. That is why he did those works.
He knew that through community service, he would get attention, and with that attention, he might earn the right to be heard by the group
He wants the world to know God. But nobody is going to listen to a crazy preacher on a soap box, no matter where that soap box is.
Before people will listen, one must earn the right to be heard.
So Jesus would meet practical needs, and earn respect. Then use that to promote the gospel message.
We use the same strategy here. We show Gods love through community service and good deeds.
Then people just might listen when we invite them to God or invite them to Church.
But the invitation is empty with out us first attempting to meet a practical need in the community.
3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
So Jesus has a crowd, and sees a teaching moment. He knows that it wont take long before a person gets hungry, and food is the universal language of love
He turns to his disciple Philip and says “where should we buy food enough for everybody here”
He asks, not to get an answer he could not discern for himself.
Jesus knows the reality here. He was testing Philip.
Any leader knows that the way to stimulate a persons mind is through questions
Also, a way to test a persons knowledge is through questions.
It is through questions that I can learn how much you have been paying attention, or how much you are willing to confirm to the will of God in faith.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Philip does what most of us, including myself, tends to do when faced with a ministry challenge.
We assess the practical cost. He says, we don’t have it in the budget, and even if we saved for a year, we still could not scratch the surface of this need.
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
So Phil is feeling discouraged by his lack of physical resources, Andrew steps forward in obedience
Andrew starts to look at what they can do to help, instead of focusing on what is missing.
And just like any human would, he felt a little discouraged when he saw just how far his best efforts fell short
He put all he could together to be obedient to what God was leading, and saw quickly that he just did not have what it took to go as far as God was leading.
Then God started to work. First God tested. Then somebody stepped forward in faithful obedience, realized that on his own, it could not enough.
Then God started to work.
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).
5000 men probably meant that there was also women and children present who were not counted. Elaborate
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
God did it! He did a miracle that took the meager resources of this group of faithful servants, and served a huge community need.
We will come back and deal with this financial miracle in another sermon, but we will keep reading on as we get to the point of Jesus being the bread of life, because his miracle is relevant to Christs statements later.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Still here we see that the people God is serving are missing the point. They call him a prophet, because they can not help but see his power.
But they are not worshiping him as he deserves to be worshiped as one with God.
So it is with our community. God will use us, and we will bare his image, and share his love for the sake of their salvation
And most will only give credit as far as to say we are charitable, and nothing more.
At this point, Jesus and his disciples cross the sea to Capernaum, and we will come back to those verses later
But on the other side of the sea we pick up here.
The crowd followed Jesus and his crew, chased him down and we see in
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Jesus said, you followed me for one reason, you want breakfast!
You saw me create this food from prayer, and your looking for more of the same.
and if it was not for the free food bank, you probably would not even step foot in the church
So Jesus says, if your looking for food, I have something better. There is something you can ingest spiritually that can give you eternal live.
The food you are seeking, it expires, and even if you eat, you just get hungry again
But what Jesus is offering truly grants eternal life
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
They heard Jesus call them out for their intentions and said “we are not free loaders, we will earn our breakfast. What job do you want us to do to get some of that magic bread?
Jesus said, I don’t want your work, or your labor, I want your heart. I want your faith
God does not desire religious slaves. He desires family. He desires relationship
That is part of what we will be celebrating with this communion service later.
This is not some religious ritual that earns us any favor.
It is our way of celebrating the cost that was paid so that we could receive free grace
But these people were just not getting it
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
They essentially said “sure, we will give you our faith, as soon as you give us more food”
They even quoted scripture to Jesus about when God provided for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert by raining bread from heaven.
I have seen this kind of thing plenty of times. Examples of phone calls where only cash will do, while they use Christian language INSINCER
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus corrected them and said Moses did not give them anything. It is God who provided the bread
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
They still, looking for more free community service, and rejecting the spiritual message say directly, just give us some bread man!
This text makes us ask, why do we come to church?
Is it for the free coffee? I am joking, because there is great coffee in lots of places
But is it for you to get some emotional or physical need met?
Or is it for you to get a spiritual need met?
So Jesus said directly, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE, and I can meet every need”
When we come to church to get our physical needs met, like to take advantage of this service or that, this is fine to us and to the Lord, because it is a foot in the door
Or if we come to church to get an emotional need met, like we need a place to belong, or whatever, this is fine, because meeting emotional needs is very much a ministry priority.
But if it starts and stops there, we will just end up hungry again. Feeding those mouths will not satisfy the craving.
However, if we come to get our spiritual needs met, through the work of Jesus Christ, then God meets not just the spiritual need, but the physical and emotional needs as well
He will satisfy every hunger, and quench every thirst.
This text asks us to question our motives for why we are here.
Jesus called these ones out and said “you have seen my power, and how I have worked in the lives all around you, and even in your own, and yet you still do not belong to God”
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
Of course the people did not like that. They wanted God to do what they wanted God to do
But Jesus wanted to challenge them in a spiritual direction that made them uncomfortable
So they grumbled. They wanted their personal needs met, but God wanted spiritual growth
So they grumbled. God did not move how they asked God to move. God wanted to move them instead.
So they grumbled. Sound familiar?
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.
We see that they were not grumbling to Jesus, they were grumbling to themselves.
This is very typical. When somebody has a complaint with a very shaky position, they are unlikely to bring it up to the person that offended them
Instead, they will complain to each other so that they can parrot their complaints back and forth with out challenge.
If they had a solid argument, they would have brought it to Jesus. But they just wanted to complain, and deep inside they knew they were wrong, so they grumbled to each other.
This is a sign of them lacking spiritual maturity. And a sign that they had no valid argument, and no willingness to change their position.
But here comes the point.
I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus used the bread as a symbol of his own body, his own flesh.
He was not saying that we need to literally eat him, or that the work of eating communion bread was going to give us eternal life.
Jesus was using a metaphor.
As we eat a piece of bread, that bread is digested, and becomes a part of us. It nourishes us, and gives us real life.
So it is with Jesus himself. As we accept him in to our lives, His holy spirit lives in side us
If we belong to God, then God becomes a part of our lives, fills us up with life, and God gives us a real life that lasts forever.
This is what Jesus means when he says in vs 53
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell 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 them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
God is not concerned with our religious rituals and traditions.
Eating the living bread means that we have accepted Jesus Christ in to our lives.
That we unite ourselves with him by believing in his torturous death, which was the sacrifice of his flesh.
By believing in his resurrection, and by devoting our lives to him as he requires.
Depending on his teaching for guidance and trusting in his holy spirit for power.
By eating this bread, and drinking this juice, we are committing to take Gods life and make it our own
Today we are going to celebrate the lords offering to us with the ceremony of communion.
My team is going to pass out these two elements, one at a time.
First the bread, then the juice.
Everybody is welcomed to come to the table of Grace
While it is a ceremony of believers, therefore it would be a silly thing for a non-believer to celebrate.
While believers in Gods death and resurrection are invited, all are welcomed.
As we share this ceremony together, this is a time of commitment.
As you take these elements, we should be reflecting on our faith, praying to God in gratitude for how he had died to save us
As we take the elements, we should be also committing our lives over to him completely.
Giving him lordship over our will, and the direction our choices would go.
If you have done this already, we will renew this commitment and express this gratitude again, and again, and again, because it is healthy.
Afterall, husbands don’t say “I love you” to their wives during the wedding and then never again.
Husbands commit to their wives their faithfulness, loyalty, and devotion, every single day.
So it is with us and our god.
If you have never given your life to God, or you feel insecure, today is the day for you to walk out of here completely secured and certain of your eternal destination.
Today you can commit to God, and leave here belonging to him.
All you have to do is pray your desire to follow him, and express your faith in his Son, and give a commitment to follow his will for your life.
You can do that as we share this ceremony together.
1st Corinthians 11: 27-29
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
This is why I invite believers to the table of communion.
This is also why I desire that we celebrate in this way regularly.
This is an opportunity to really reflect. Not on our religious commitments, but on our faithful relationship
Do we belong to God. We will never be perfect, so we should not feel guilty about our sin
Let instead our failure convict us into a deeper relationship with our savior and God
Our message today had a central theme.
The people who were coming to Christ were coming for all the wrong reasons.
So too we should check our motives for what is drawing us to church.
This ceremony is designed to help us reflect on exactly that.
Passing out the bread: Please take it and hold it, and we will eat it together.
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed before he would be tortured to death, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; as you eat this, remember my sacrifice.
Please pray and remember, commit and when you are ready, eat.
Passing out the drink: Please take it, and hold it, and we will drink together.
In the same way, after the last meal Jesus would ever eat, he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, meaning we are entering into an era of Grace and forgiveness that could never be with out the death of our savior
He said drink this, and whenever you drink it, remember me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Please pray and remember, commit and when you are ready, eat.
If there is anybody here today who has committed themselves to God, or has re-committed themselves to God, please come to me after service so I can encourage you.