What Do You Believe About
The Bread Of Life?
For nearly forty years the nation of Israel was being patiently taught the means of their survival. They could not survive en masse, nor individually apart from the gracious provisions of the Lord. Daily the "unknown" substance called manna rained down from Heaven. God was so dependable to an undependable people. Does that not show clearly His grace, even back then? The story of grace is indelibly etched throughout the eons of time.
There are no people of any dispensation who have not been under the umbrella of God’’s marvelous grace. So undeserving was the nation of Israel yet incubated by God’’s grace. They were like little chicks scurrying round for a grain of corn. Yet, as dependant as they may have been, they never needed to have lacked for anything. The lessons they learned concerning the provisions of God, were told to their children. Then each generation would pass on to the next generation how God blessed under the leadership of Moses. The Jews in our study are recalling the way God blessed and met their needs under the leadership of Moses, but forgetting where the manna really came from. In Moses’’ day the glory that should have been God’’s alone is now being given to Moses. In the same spirit, the glory that should have belonged to Jesus is being withheld. Sadly, the same multitude that had previously enjoyed the miracle involving the two fishes and five loaves are now murmuring and questioning the deity of Christ.
May we notice the murmuring pertaining to the bread of life, the Messiah explaining the bread of life, and the means of obtaining the bread of life.
I. THE MURMURING PERTAINING TO THE BREAD OF LIFE vv. 41-47
The murmuring was a response to His declaration. Jesus declared that He was the bread which came down from Heaven (v. 41). Jesus also stated that He was the bread of life (v. 35). He said "I am the bread of life." This is the first of the seven "I am" titles of Christ found in this gospel, and found no where else. The others are, "I am the light of the world" (8:12); "I am the door" (10:9); "I am the good shepherd" (10:11); "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:35); "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (14:6); "I am the true vine" (15:1).
Moses was instructed of God while at the burning bush to go to Egypt and stand before Pharaoh. He was to command Pharaoh to let the children of God go forth into the wilderness to worship Jehovah. When Moses asked, who shall I say hath sent me?, the answer was, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 4:14). Jehovah (I AM) in the Old Testament is the same Jesus in the New Testament. With the use of these seven metaphors, in conjunction with His title, "I AM," Jesus is progressively revealing Himself as the True God.
The strong, but simple declaration that Jesus made startled the Jews. In their pride, they did not accept Jesus as the giver of life. This declaration statement by Jesus served as a catalyst to cause the Jews to murmur, thus revealing their depraved heart. They did not have an aptitude for the things of God. Paul was communicating this truth when he said, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14). Their attitude was also non-receptive to the sayings of Jesus. Not only did they not understand what Jesus was telling them, but they also did not believe what Jesus claimed regarding His deity.
The murmuring was a rejection of His deity. The Jews could only see Jesus as being the natural son of Joseph and Mary. Many had observed Jesus growing up; they probably saw Him working in the carpenter’’s shop along with His stepfather, Joseph. Had deep spiritual qualities not set Jesus apart from the common man, they would have had reason to reject the deity of Christ. Yet God allowed His Son to perform the miracles called "signs and wonders" for the purpose of proving His statements to be true. These miracles proved that Jesus was more than just a natural man. He was the God-Man. Yet stubbornly they would not cross over their own barrier of unbelief to embrace Christ Jesus as the true Messiah. Paul said about them, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. "Brethren, my heart’’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:1-4).
The murmuring was a revealing of their depravity. They indicated by their murmuring that they had not "learned of the Father" (v. 45). Had they learned of the Father, they would have come to Jesus and partook of the bread of life. Their hunger pains would have forced them to do so. In using the metaphor of Him as the bread of life, all that pertained to the partaking of the bread should be considered. Yet instead of desiring Him, they have no appetite at all. With no appetite and with no eating, there is no life. In that condition, they revealed themselves to be totally depraved. Just today, I had the joy of visiting the sick in our local hospital. Before I walked in, I saw two ladies sitting on the bench outside. I kindly ministered to them, asking about their sick. I left them both a gospel tract offering to be of any further help. When I came out of the hospital the ladies were gone and the "good news" in the form of the gospel tract that I had given them were both laying on the bench. They were given an opportunity to receive eternal life by reading and trusting the Word of God. Yet in their state of depravity there were no hunger pains to cause them to eat of the bread of life. Verse 44 reminds us that there must be the "drawing’’ of the Father. The Father’’s drawing is likened unto the appetite one has for the bread of life. Maybe at a later time, those two ladies will find themselves hungry. Pray that they do not wait to late!
II. THE MESSIAH EXPLAINING THE BREAD OF LIFE vv. 48-55
His bread is different (vv. 48-50). Christ reemphasised again that He is "that bread of life" (v. 48). Instead of Jesus "soft pedaling" the Truth, He does the opposite. He reveals additional, weighty doctrines that causes the Jews to continue to strive in their arguing. He contrasted Himself to the temporary qualities of the manna in the wilderness. The manna offered then, as gracious as it was, did not compare to the "bread of life." So many today are striving (a form of the word laboring) for that bread which does not satisfy eternally. They partake or eat of the bread of this world becoming empty again and again; eventually they die (v. 49). Those who have digested the "bread" of fame and fortune are permitted to eat it for just a little while, then it is gone. They need the different bread that giveth everlasting life. I John 2:15-17 warns us of pursuing after the wrong things having the wrong appetites. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (John 2:15-17).
His bread is delivered (vv. 51-54). Jesus reminds them that this different bread has been delivered (v. 32) by the Son as a gift from the Father. John 3:16 says this truth very well, "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." When He says "should not perish," He uses the Greek word apollumi in reference to judgment. Yet, when one eats of Jesus, He also will not perish in hunger. His needs will be met and his hunger satisfied.
This special delivery is delivered straight from the heart of God. God looking down on earth saw its intense hunger. Recognizing the spiritual hunger, He must have said, "Just as I met the daily needs of the wilderness wanders, I will meet the eternal needs of whosoever will." Praise God for His watchful care.
His bread is delectable (v. 55). The world has its own counterfeits. Money and merchandise have been counterfeited. There are those with the aid of hi-tech equipment able to copy the real thing with such precision that the real is often confused with the counterfeit. More and more techniques and safeguards have been implemented to ward off those who attempt to counterfeit money. Just as there are those busy counterfeiting merchandise and money, Satan is also busy.
Satan is the great counterfeiter who strives to counterfeit the "real thing," especially when counterfeiting salvation. Christ Jesus said that His flesh is meat indeed (v. 35). It is the real thing. He is insisting to those who question His deity that, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (v. 53). When He says that He is meat indeed, He means that He is the singular source of life. He completely satisfies. A person must by faith appropriate Christ by eating and drinking of Him. This is not a doctrine on cannibalism, nor is it a catholic doctrine on transubstantiation. Jesus, the Bread of Life is simply stressing the importance of partaking spiritually of Him as one would partake of daily substance.
III. THE MEANS FOR OBTAINING THE BREAD OF LIFE vv. 56-71
It may be freely received (vv. 56-58). As hard as this saying may have seemed to some, the life bread was available to all who would eat of Him. Christ Jesus was using the metaphor of His flesh and blood to convey to those left that He was going to make the ultimate sacrifice in giving Himself. All that He said was pointing to His sacrificial death on the cross. Those anxious to make Him King did not want one who they perceived to only be the common carpenter’’s son of Mary and Joseph. Yet this most generous gift of eternal life belongs to every person willing to totally consume Him by faith. Hebrews conveys this great truth in chapter 6:4-5. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come."
The phrase "have tasted of the heavenly gift" and "have tasted the good word of God" refers to the spiritual idea of eating the Living Bread.
It may be foolishly rejected (vv. 59-65). The rich man in Luke 16 had all the physical amenities a person would desire, yet in all of his banqueting and his feasting he never once partook of the Living Bread. Many eat the bread of this world while at the same time saying, "Man this is living." In reality they are only pretending to live; they are actually dying. They are no different than the rich man, who in hell lifted up his eyes being in torments.
Apparently many who heard what Jesus said were offended. While He was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum (v. 59), many began to question His doctrine as a "hard saying." Verse 66 tells us, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Many will not frequent a church today if the pulpit provides straight and solid Biblical preaching. They will refer to the preaching as being hard.
Recently, I was invited to preach a revival in a church. The church was blessed with a young pastor who had a zeal for God and a desire to accomplish much for Christ. From the very beginning of the meeting, I was determined to be compassionate but also careful to preach the Word without compromise. As I preached, I sensed a turning away from the truth by some of the people. Sadly there were only a few there who wanted the plain teachings of Scripture. The verses in our text, verses 66-68 are now more clearly understood after the meeting just described.
It may be faithfully recognized (vv. 66-71). Simon Peter was asked if he would also go away. He answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." When one has been confronted with the True Bread of Life and tasted it, he knows there is none other like it. Peter had no knowledge of anyone else that he could go. By the question, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" he was acknowledging that Jesus was the only one who has the words of eternal life.
The group now has been reduced to a much smaller number. Jesus now speaks to the twelve, telling them this, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" With this question by Jesus, there is not a weakness on the part of Jesus in choosing Judas but on the part of Judas not accepting Him. Judas serves as a warning to us all. Judas had the privilege of being taught by Jesus as well as having the privilege of time spent with Jesus. Yet he still went to Hell. One may have the benefits of God’’s grace in many different forms. It may be preaching, witnessing, or receiving a gospel tract, and still refusing it only to wake up in Hell. When God gives you an offer to accept the True Bread of Life, may your appetite be for Him!
Sermons From Pastor Max Alderman, Ph.D.