What Do You Believe About
The Bread Of Life?
The feeding of the multitude shows that Jesus keeps His promises. He was going to show, "greater works than these, that ye may marvel" (5:20). He made this statement to the Jewish authorities. It was as though He was saying, as we would colloquially, "You ain’t seen nothing yet!" Their questioning pertained to the subject of His deity. They would not accept this carpenter’s Son as the Messiah. Thus the miracles would serve the purpose of authenticating His ministry, proving Him to be the Son of God.
Though Jesus had come to earth as man, He was demonstrating that He was no less God. He was not a magician with a "bag of tricks." He was very God. The feeding of the multitude further proved the validity of His claims.
In verse fourteen, the men after they had seen the miracle that Jesus did said, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." Upon recognizing who Jesus was, the multitude wanted to take Jesus by force making Him their King. He removed Himself to a mountain staying there alone (v. 15). When it was evening the disciples began their journey toward Capernaum (v. 17). When it was dark, Jesus came to them.
Jesus began to walk on the sea. As He did, a strong wind started blowing. The blowing wind along with His walking on the sea produced a very eerie setting. One indicates that they actually thought He was a ghost. In two of the gospels He said, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." The additional expression, "Be of good cheer" is offered in the midst of demonic attack. Apparently the demons of hell were lashing out at Jesus to demoralize Him and His followers. The only response that Satan could invoke from Jesus while blowing in his wicked fury was, "Be of good cheer."
This response by Jesus should be our response. When Satan is working against us, may we be reminded, "If Christ be for you who can be against you." If Christ be for you, as someone said, "It doesn’t matter who is against you!"
When the disciples received Christ into the ship another miracle took place, they were "immediately" on the land (v. 21). A simple statement of truth could be rendered in this fashion, "Things sure go better when you let Him on board." True to human nature, we often go on with our futile rowing while wondering how we are ever going to get through the storm, forgetting that the Master knows that the tempest is raging. We also forget that Jesus told us that He would never leave us nor forsake us.
Everything taking place in verses 14 through 25 serves as a transitional link between the feeding of the multitude and the discourse on the bread of life.
The persistence of the followers is made evident as they found means to get to the other side. They were enthralled by His miracles but perhaps even more, they were motivated by having their fleshly desires satisfied.
This study will be considered in two parts: (1) Truth revealed about the bread of life (2) The reaction to the bread of life. In part one, may we consider: what He said about them – a rebuke and a challenge; what He said about Himself – a revelation and a correction; what He said about the Father – a requirement and a consideration.
I. WHAT HE SAID ABOUT THEM – A REBUKE AND A CHALLENGE vv. 26-29
Just as Jesus answered Nicodumus by changing the subject, He does also here. They said unto him, "Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, 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" (vv. 25b-26). This statement could very well be considered as a rebuke. There is so much "phony baloney" in the world today. It was no different then. Just as Jesus perceived that the multitude was trying to take Him by force making Him their King, He also sensed the real reason the people were seeking after Him. They may be pretending one thing, but He knows the heart.
The United States has been blessed in having an unusually high degree of peace and prosperity. The prosperity we enjoy has caused us to give too much attention and worth to that which is temporal and fleshly. The inflated value system we have lets the sports figure and movie star make far more than the Governor, Doctor, or even the President, not to mention the Preacher of the Gospel. Maybe the prosperity is not really a blessing after all, but instead a curse.
Lately, moral leaders have been urging a return to a proper value system. The decline in our morals is very much in proportion to our hedonistic lifestyles. We have become glutinous not only for food, but gluttons for sex, drugs, money, and power. We, as a nation, are becoming less aware of and having less of a conscience toward God.
The rebuke by Jesus was not a harsh, caustic rebuke as if they were in rebellion against Him. It was rather a rebuke to get the multitude to focus on those things which have an eternal worth and value. There was a man I was witnessing to years ago who illustrates what I am referring to concerning misplaced values. He was sitting at his kitchen table across from me as I was pleading with him to trust Jesus and turn from his wicked ways. I kept telling him to get his heart right with God. While we were talking, he made excuse after excuse why he did not want to get saved. He also
suffered a heart condition that brought on an angina attack from time to time. I knew with his heart condition he needed not to put off his greatest need.
While witnessing to him, he reached for a small brown medicine bottle I recognized to be nitroglycerin tablets. Before he could grab the bottle I grabbed it. "What are you doing Preacher!" he cried. I immediately told him, "Ray you don’t need these tablets." "But Preacher, if I don’t’ take one of those I may have a heart attack and die!" I told Ray that I had been talking to him about his eternal heart and he did not even seem to care. Yet the moment his physical heart begin to pain him, he was reaching out in fear. As far as I know he never did get saved; he died of a heart attack.
We certainly have mixed up and warped priorities in this life. For this reason the Lord said, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (v. 27). This is a warning not only to the multitude who followed Jesus, but a warning to all of us. We are often guilty of laboring for that which does not really satisfy. Isaiah 55 gives the formula for receiving what he calls real "soul delight." "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."
The people said unto him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" (v. 28). Jesus’ answer was, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (v. 29). The key then, and now is, "faith." Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us this also, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
II. WHAT HE SAID ABOUT HIMSELF – A REVELATION AND A CORRECTION vv. 30-35
The multitude gathered wanted a sign to convince them of the authenticity of what Jesus was saying was true. Sadly, they were rejecting the miracle of feeding the multitude and Jesus walking on the water. Instead of believing Jesus they belittled Jesus by saying, "Moses did more than what you did." They were in effect saying, "Moses took care of our fathers for forty years in the desert, you only took care of one meal" (vv. 30-31). "Then Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world" (vv. 32-22).
In this verse, Jesus is correcting them. He tells them that the manna came from God not Moses. It is becoming more common today for men to be worshipers of men rather than worshipers of God. There is a trend for many of our college and university students to worship confessing to Buddha or Muhammad rather that the true and living God. Those who are involved in the drug cultures find some of the eastern religions to be a convenient means of bridging their "meditating" and "hallucinating" together. The "true bread" does not come from Moses, nor from any other religious personage. The True Bread is from Heaven.
After Jesus makes a correction concerning Moses, He makes a revelation concerning Himself. In verse 35, "Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thrist."
It is quite interesting how Christ chose manna to represent Himself. The manna foreshadowed Christ in several obvious ways. We know that manna was a gift of God from Heaven. The Lord told Moses, "I will rain bread from heaven for you" (Exodus 16:4). Manna was heavenly in origin, a product which man had no part in producing. There was no opportunity to work for it because it was a provision of free grace. Man could only recognize and appropriate it (Stevens).
Unlike the manna in the wilderness, the True Bread will bring satisfaction where one will neither hunger nor thirst. The woman at the well learned this truth leaving her water pot; she found real satisfaction in the living water that she found nowhere else.
III. WHAT HE SAID ABOUT THE FATHER – A REQUIRE- MENT AND A CONSIDERATION vv. 36-40
These verses prove that Jesus, The Bread of Life, came down submissively to meet the requirements of His Father. Verse 38-40 proves His reason and purpose for coming. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which, hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (vv. 36-40).
These verses give us the scope and purpose of the Lord’s coming. To receive the full impact of what is being introduced in these verses it would be profitable to do a detailed study on the "Kinsman Redeemer Law." The basic requirements for the kinsman redeemer is noted in three parts. (1) He must be of close kin to the one he redeems. (2) He must be willing to perform the part of a kinsman redeemer. (3) He must be able to perform the part of the redeemer. Usually people and land are involved in redemption. This was the case involving Ruth and Boaz. Before Boaz could act the part of redeemer, he had to find someone who was of closer kin to her deceased husband. When this closer of kin was unwilling to do the work of Redeemer, that freed Boaz to perform the part. The marriage of Boaz to Ruth gave her an inheritance that she had lost at her husband’s death. In the same way, Jesus came to earth as a close Kinsman, willing and able to regain back that which had been lost to sin. For a further study of this truth, refer to Revelation chapters 6 and 10 noting how Jesus was "worthy" to regain all that had been lost to sin. When Adam and Eve sinned the world came underneath the sin curse, as well as all living. Romans 8:20-23 also describes the effects of the curse in view of redemption.
Verse number 39 tells us that it is the Father’s will that Jesus, "should lose nothing, but should raise ‘it’ up again at the last day." The word "it" indicates only the physical creation not involving the souls of men. Verse number 40 also says the Father’s will is not to lose those who are born again but to "raise ’him’ up at the last day." The word "him" refers to the souls of men. As our most honorable and worthy Kinsman Redeemer, Christ Jesus will raise our old bodies with the sin curse removed and the glorified bodies as our eternal bodies. Everlasting life is the blessed result of believing.
Sermons From Pastor Max Alderman, Ph.D.