Are you willing to give up a few years to have eternity?
Today’s message is entitled “Jesus is Food for Life’.
When you get to your table at meal time and find bread there, what are you hoping for? What’s your faith in that bread? And when you take a drink, what’s your faith in that drink? What are you thinking? Why are you there? Why are you eating?
In John chapter 6, we are at a discourse. That means Jesus is having a discussion, Jesus is open to dialogue, Jesus is not just preaching but he’s open to discussion and he’s in a synagogue which means that’s the Jewish place of learning. So he’s not talking to crowds. He’s not talking to people on the side of the Galilean shore. He’s talking to people who are hardcore in the faith. People who are wrestling with the hard truths of his teachings and some of the stuff he’s saying. And Jesus says some of the stuff that is very difficult to swallow. He really expects you to wrestle with that and come to terms with it.
One of those statements he makes right here is in chapter 6, where he says, “I am the bread of life.” We’re going to look at that and we’re going to draw some lessons from that. So the background is His sitting with his disciples in the synagogue, teaching them what it means to partake of Him, what it means to partake of His death and partake of His life. Some heavy stuff and then he also makes a prophesy about his ascension which means He is very sure He’s going to die and He is very sure He is going to rise again. And He says, “I am the one who has come from heaven, I’m going to die, I’m going to go to the grave, I’m going to come back from the grave and then I’m going to go back to heaven.” That’s a multi-city trip. I’ve come from heaven, so I know all about heaven. I’ve come to earth, I’m going to die. So I’m going to face death, and I’m going to come back from the grave. He qualifies on a lot of levels here to be able to tell us what He is doing, but He disturbs the Jews. He has just given bread to them. The previous part was about the five loaves and two fish. Here we are, five thousand men, not counting women and children, and he takes the food, multiplies it and gives the bread for food.
He moves on with His disciples, up to the mountains and is alone with them. The crowd follows them. He turns around, checks their motives and asks them “why are you following me? Because I gave you bread to eat.” Because I put money in your bank, because I made openings for your children’s admissions, because I provide you earthly blessings. That’s why you’re following me. “Follow me. Work for eternal food.” Remember this from last week? Work for food that is going to last for eternity. Build your life on a ministry, a calling, on something that will last for eternity. Let the outcome of your life be eternal. That was a quick sermon right there.
So you’ve got the food, He multiplies is, He challenges their motives and the next thing He turns around and says is while the motive of the whole chapter is bread, He says, “I am the living bread. I am the bread of life.” Verse 35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” That’s a very powerful statement. He says I have come down from heaven and I have come to do God’s will. And then he explains what God’s will is. And His will is twofold. 1. Jesus doesn’t lose anybody that God the father brings to Him. And No. 2. That Jesus raises them up on the last day. God’s will is that everyone who looks on the son and believe in Him should have eternal life and be raised up on the last day.
Verse 41 says, “I am the bread that has come down from heaven.” You and I are sitting here and saying ‘’Of course, of course Jesus is the bread of life. Of course He came down from heaven. Its Jesus! Jesus came down from heaven, Jesus died. Jesus is going to heaven.” And you’ve wrestled with that and you know that, but the people in the synagogue were furious. They got upset and they grumbled amongst themselves. And as the people grumbled from disbelief, Jesus says, ‘hang on a minute. Let me explain.’ And he explains a few things that have been put in points.
- The Father draws people to the son.
“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— “ Vs. 45
It is not me trying to convince you, God the father is trying to convince you. God the Father is going to bring you to me. God the Father is going to open your eyes to see who I am. How do we know that?
So there is a communication process here. God the Father is speaking to people and He is magnifying Christ in their eyes. He is convincing them about who Jesus is and is drawing them to Jesus. Who have heard and learned from the Father.
- No one has seen or heard God – but God speaks to them through the one who has seen and heard from the Father.
“not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. “ – Vs. 46
But then, no one has seen the Father. How have you heard and learned from the Father if you have not seen the Father? Well, “not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God.” (vs. 46). So He is placing himself again as the revelation of God. No one has seen the Father but God speaks to them through the one who has seen and heard from the Father. That is Jesus. So the, God is drawing people to Jesus, through Jesus. Through His words, and you need to believe His words.
- Faith is the basis on which people receive the life and the resurrection.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” – Vs. 47
The English tense on ‘has’ is present continuous. He has. Not will have, not will look into it, not ‘we will get back to you’. Whoever believes ‘has’ eternal life. Believes what? Believes the words that God the Father has said through Jesus. So the one who has seen God the Father and heard God the Father has come with the words of God the Father to tell you the words of God the Father so that you can believe in Him, and if you have believed in Him, then He who has come from the Father will give you life and resurrection.
- Jesus is the living Bread.
“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” – Vs. 49 – 51
So He has moved from being the Bread that came down from heaven to being the Living Bread. Three times over He has made that statement from verse 41 to verse 51. These guys are getting petrified. They are like, ‘What is going on over here?’ Now He is bringing life and death into this whole situation. He’s talking to the Jews in the synagogue and he says, “Your fathers ate manna in the desert and died.” For those of you who don’t know what manna is, it is bread that God supplied to the Israelites while they were roaming around in the wilderness and God supplied this on a daily basis. Daily bread. Next day the manna was gone. So they were dependant on God for their intake in substance of their daily portions. Your fathers ate manna and died. But this Bread that has come down from heaven is so that you may eat and live.
He will live forever. Such certain words, such sure words have never been spoken from human lips. So when you go to your table in the morning, afternoon or night, when you eat your bread made of wheat you get energy. When you eat the living Bread that is Jesus, you get life. How do you sustain life? You eat from Him. How do you sustain spiritual life? How do you sustain spiritual vision and mission? How do you sustain spiritual power? You eat to live.
- Jesus’ flesh is the bread.
“If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” – Vs. 51 – 52
Now it’s getting weird. And I say, ‘Lord, already they don’t believe you. Already they’re struggling with this whole ‘you have come from heaven down to earth, to show us the way’.’
The people grumbled. Jesus clearly said that the bread that he would give, for the life of this world, that they would have to partake of to have life would be His flesh.
“So 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. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” – Vs. 53 – 54
What he is saying is, life is in my flesh, life is in my blood. Eternity is in me. So, the people look at each other and ask, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” Good question. I’ll tell you why, because that has divided people in two directions. One bunch of people said, ‘These guys are cannibals. They are eating the Son of God. ” There are a whole lot of people that believe that a sect of Christianity practices child sacrifice. They reject the Christian faith; the Christ centred faith and walk away.
There is another set of people, millions of them who are very sincere and we call that the Catholic faith. In the Catholic faith, with absolute sincerity, they believed that the priesthood and the laity are different. The priesthood has been granted the authority from God that when they bless, put their hand over or pray over the bread, called the ‘doctrine of transubstantiation’ or the change of substance. So the bread and the wine, just symbols, actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is sincerely believed and is part of the faith of millions. It comes from the passage where it says, “eat of my flesh.” So the priest lays a hand over it, it becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ and therefore, by coming to mass and being part of that communion, you are partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This does make sense at some level, but, is that what Jesus meant? Is that what Jesus calling you to? That is why it is very important to be part of a church, of mass, of the whole part of feeding off Jesus.
As you understand those misunderstandings, you move to ask Jesus what he is saying, and the key verses are verse 53, 54 and following. “As the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father…
“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.” – Vs. 57
God the Father sent Jesus. God shares His life with the Son. So Jesus is trying to show a relationship of life, a sharing of life. He is trying to show both of them are intertwined and share a life. Now he says, ‘In the same way the Father and I have a relationship, I want you and I to have a relationship.’ I want to abide in you and I want you to abide in me. What is the example that Jesus is giving of your relationship with Him? His relationship with the Father. What is His relationship with the Father? How do they share and abide on one another? How do they eat of each other? How do they feed of each other? It’s how He wants you to feed of Him. Again He says in this incredible passage of scripture. ( vs. 53, 54)
The crux of the matter here is ‘abiding’. Being one. Living of each other. Let me explain from Johnson, a commentator and I took a portion of his commentary as I was studying that. He says, “How shall one, then, eat His flesh and blood? Verses 47 and 48 show that the bread of life is appropriated by believing. There must, then, be such a belief, not merely in Christ as a divine teacher, but in His death and resurrection, as will induce us to be planted in the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection. We eat the bread on our tables because we believe it to be bread and that it will sustain life; he that believeth upon the crucified Lord enters into the fellowship of his sufferings, is crucified with him by repentance, buried into his death, raised in the likeness of his resurrection with the new life to walk in newness of life.”
All that to say, what does it mean to eat and drink of Christ? Well, it is obviously not the flesh. Because, most often the meat you eat is dead. But Jesus says, “I am the living Bread and my bread is the flesh and I want you to eat of me.” So He is not talking about chewing on the flesh. He is talking about something else. And where do you get the answer to that? The answer, the key is in verse 63, if you jump down that passage. (vs.63)That is the key. It is the words of Christ that you eat. It is the words of Christ that give spirit and life to you. Even in Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active,” So we abide in Christ, we are nourished and sustained in Christ by
- By appropriating the words of Christ. It means by obeying, putting it into practice, making it real in your life. That is faith.
- By faith in the crucifixion and the risen Saviour. Do you believe Jesus died? Why do you believe Jesus died? Do you believe Jesus rose again? Why do you believe He rose again? That belief in the death of Christ on a daily basis is because every day I make a choice on whether I want to walk guilty or grateful. Every day when I remember, believe and live from His death I remember that ‘It is paid’.
We think about the bills that have to be paid, and we live with the guilt that we have to pay for the way we live today. What if you were set free? What if you got to live with the faith that whatever you were up to today was covered? What will that make you do? Sin more? No, it’ll make you want to worship because whenever you realise you are indebted, you’ve been covered, you’ve been paid for, you live free. How are you going to live life each day? With the memory that it is going to be paid for or with the fear that you will pay for it one day?
May the Lord bless you as you understand the depth of what Jesus is saying here. “Eat of me and you will live.” It sounds gross, but what does He mean by that? It sounds radical. What He means is, ‘my flesh is my death. I gave my flesh so I could taste death for all man. For the wages of sin is death‘. You sin, He died. His flesh represents His death. His words represent His life. So you chew and live on His words. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” So flesh is His words. The Spirit gives His words to us and puts His words in us so that in us we have spirit and life. His flesh represents His death. His words represent His life. His spirit gives His words to us that give us life.
- His life gives meaning and purpose to our flesh.
His flesh is death. My flesh is also death. So He died for me, I die for Him. And this transfusion of life between His death to my life and my death to His life is His Spirit, giving His words and pumping and infusing life into my soul. So that by the time it gets to my flesh, His life gives meaning and purpose to my death.
Why would I want to waste my life on my ambitions, indulgences, weaknesses and lusts when Christ has an amazing plan for my life? How do I know that I feed of His words and His flesh which is His death , guarantees His words to me through the Spirit of God into my life, guaranteeing both my death His life through me.
Verse 66…. We know what Jesus is demanding here. His life and my death, so many walked away. Many didn’t follow Him anymore. They understood the high cost of discipleship. And again Jesus turns to His disciples and asked them if they wanted to leave as well. And Peter says, “To whom shall we go?” He doesn’t say ‘where’ but ‘whom’. “For you have the words of eternal life.” And he says, “we have believed and we have come to know” that means he spoke from experience. Meaning that we have put our faith and we have seen the outcome of that faith. Words result in my faith, results in my experience.
How do I enjoy Jesus?
- Make His words your daily diet.
- Chew well and digest properly.
- Share that bread with others. – because you have believed and come to know.
- Keep your sights on the resurrection.
Jesus says in that last day he will raise us up. God died for us, in faith we die for Jesus. It is a daily death. Every day I die for Jesus and on the last day Jesus will raise me up. In that day we will be the real us, the ones who were designed to be pleasing and holy and perfect for Christ. And with every vision that God had for our life, for the rest of eternity, we will fulfil the worship and the vision of God and sing the praises of God. In my perfection I will live as myself because I was willing to die for Him here on earth. His will is that each one of you, with everything you are, with your uniqueness, your gifts and talents, your love, you relationships will live eternity with Him.
Are you willing to give up a few years to have eternity? To be real in a world that matters?