Esquire magazine carried an article entitled "How to Live Forever." The article said that if all genes that affect the rate of aging are deactivated, if cancer and heart disease are conquered, if genes can be tricked into regenerating organ tissue, and if all causes of old age are eliminated, the median life span will increase to 1,200 years! The fact is that our sinful or fallen bodies were never intended to last forever; and we were never intended to spend eternity on earth. Jesus told us how we can live forever. We come to an amazing passage that tells us about who God is and what God came to do; but we also see a problem with this passage! Man’s stubbornness and disbelief that leads to misplaced affections. Human misunderstanding, thinking I need to work towards, instead of receiving the gift with thanks-giving. We get front row seats here this morning as we’re about to see this unfold as Jesus confronts the multitudes with this truth about eternal life. Sadly there are many who are trying this today! Sadly there are many who are afraid to grow old! But the simple truth is that there is nothing you can do stop the aging process! Yes, living healthier will definitely help. Exercise regularly, eat healthier and so on ….but we are all going to die one day. Sadly we see people today are trying to attain or work towards spirituality in the church when it comes to eternal life! As one study said “It’s proven that the majority of people who attend church come just for themselves, or for their children and grandchildren to interact. Historically people don’t come to church to watch others, or to be a blessing and to help others grow in their walk with Christ! Most people come to church full of their own motives." this is what you would call “misplaced affections”
We need to always remember that on our worst day physically, emotionally and spiritually……Jesus Christ died on a cross for troubled people like us. Your attendance, serving and tithing don’t make you a Christian any more than getting a face lift to make yourself feel young! Again all those things are wonderful expressions of a changed heart, but they are not what make us Christians! Why do I say all this? These people were confused and misunderstood what Jesus was saying; because they asked Him a question. (v28). They thought they needed to work for their salvation! Again misplaced affections. They misinterpreted what Jesus meant by the word “labour” or “work” there thinking was “I need to do something in order to attain eternal life.” We see the same problem today in the church.
- Trying to fix our problems in our own strength.
- Trying to make things better.
- Trying to out weight the bad with good.
- Trying to be good and do good to win merits or brownie points with God!
Don’t get me wrong we should be doing ‘good’ towards one another, but what does your heart say when you do it? Is it out of a love for Christ because He saved you from the bondage of sin and death or is out of a sinful heart motived out of duty to win favour with God? Which in a sense minimizes the need and the finished work of the cross? This will be your answer if you think the way they did in the next verse! (v29). The only “work” required is that people [you and me] believe the Messiah….God who came in flesh. As John previously wrote! “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John 1:14.
J C Ryle said “If any two things are put in strong contrast, in the New Testament, they are faith and works. Not working, but believing,….not of works but through faith which are words familiar to all careful bible readers. Yet here the great Head of the church declares that believing on Him is the highest and greatest of all ‘works’! It is ‘the work of God.’ Doubtless our Lord did not mean that there is anything meritorious in believing. Man’s faith, at best, is feeble and defective. Regarded as a work, it cannot stand the severity of God’s judgement, deserve pardon, or purchase heaven. But our Lord did mean that faith in Himself, as the only Saviour, is the first act of the soul which God requires at a sinner’s hand. Till a man believes on Jesus, and rests on Jesus as a lost sinner, he is nothing.”
When we recognize and cast our righteousness aside and simply trusts in His Son…God is well pleased. Without such a faith it is impossible to please God as the Hebrew writer penned in chapter 11. What Jesus is saying is that faith in Him is the root of saving faith, there is no life in a man till he believes. Remember as a child of God we are a blessed people! Why? Because you believe upon the only one who can save your soul from Hell and Judgement.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek o hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
- Blessed is the one who is not offended by me. [Matt 5:4-11; Matt 11:6; 13;16]
- Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
Sadly though, these people still didn’t get it! But again, let me remind of what John already wrote! In John 1:10-11 it says “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Look how they responded to Jesus (v30-v31) “So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?" Did you already forget what I did the day before…..the miracle of the bread and fish? You tell me the story about Moses and your people when they wandered the Desert, but you forget one important truth! Take your eyes of Moses and focus on God who sent the true Bread in the person of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t Moses who supplied the food it was Almighty God [Jehovah], the same one who stands before you now! So here is your sign or proof. (v32-v33). What was there response? (v34) “give us this bread” sadly again this response is get there physical needs to met! This is the same marking of a shallow, temporary follower of Jesus who fills churches, looking for their needs and desires to be met today. There are many churches that accommodate this style of behaviour. As John MacArthur says “they are often the places that draw the largest crowds, but have the lowest percentage of true believers.” So not only did they insist that He give them proof they insisted that he give them what they wanted. This crowd didn’t believe in Jesus, they were still focused on their physical needs meaning they were spiritually blind to their OWN SIN! And as we look at last week misplaced affections lead to selfishness, blindness and separation! Paul warned the church about this “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14.
So how did Jesus respond to their unbelief and dullness of understanding? (v35-v40) Jesus responds with this simple statement! “I’AM the bread of life”Now, we need to stop here for a moment and park the car; because what Jesus is saying will strike a chord with the religious leaders of that day. The term that Jesus refers Himself too “Bread” has great implication in lives of His people then and now. Why? Bread is considered a staple food……… a basic dietary item. A person today can survive a long time on only bread and water. Bread is such a basic food item that it becomes equal for food in general. Bread also plays an integral part of the Jewish Passover meal. The Jews were to eat unleavened bread during the Passover feast and then for seven days following as a celebration of the exodus from Egypt. And we know by (v31) “Bread” was one of the blessings the Jews received when they were wandering in the desert for 40 years. God rained down “bread from heaven” to sustain the nation. Exo 16:4. This is the first of seven “I’AM” statements that we will be looking at over the course of the year! So, we can’t afford to overlook the importance of this statement! Why? This statement is declaring His deity and truth to His people. Just as Jesus who was the Pre-Incarnate Christ who spoke to Moses at the “burning Bush” is the same one who stands before the people here in John’s letter. By saying “I’AM the bread of life”, He’s not referring to Himself as a loaf of Bread you buy in a market…. But that He was the one who nourishes people spiritually and satisfies the deep spiritual longing of their souls. As Jesus said those who trust in Him will never hunger again! Isn’t that statement true in your life and in mine? Jesus came not only for Israel but for the whole world. And He came, not to just sustain life, but to give life! Jesus has satisfied our souls by giving us eternal life in Him and sustaining us as we walk the pilgrim’s way home.
What does it mean to a Christian today [a believer] when Jesus says “I’AM the Bread of Life”? In other portions of scripture it is the Word of God by which man truly lives out his life. Matt 4:4 it says "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
- Which Job treasured more than necessary food - Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”
- Which David valued more than gold and fine food - Ps 19:10; 119:72,103:11
- Which Jeremiah found to be the rejoicing of his heart – Jer 15:16 “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”
- Which causes rebirth, and endures forever – 1 Peter 1:22-25 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
“I’AM the bread of life” is a very important statement to make to fallen sinners like them and us this morning. What’s beautiful about this statement is that whoever comes to Him will never be cast out. As the hymn song goes “Blessed assurance that Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory Divine.”There is a story about Charlotte Elliott who learned an important lesson about Jesus one sleepless night in 1834. She was woman who had a weak and feeble body, but possessed a strong imagination and a well cultured and intellectual mind…..so when her family held a flea market in Brighton, England to raise money to build a school, she could only watch from afar. That night she was overwhelmed by her helplessness and could not sleep. But her sadness turned to joy when she realized that God accepted her just as she was. And through this truth she penned these words that night "Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, 0 Lamb of God, I come! I come!" What did Jesus say to these skeptics? (v37) “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” A person should never think that “maybe I’m not chosen by God and therefore Jesus may reject me when I come to Him.” Jesus promises to receive everyone who comes to Him and trust Him for salvation through genuine repentance and faith. That’s why Paul said “…..for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16.
Let me ask you a question! Are you completely satisfied in the Bread of Life? Or are you still searching to get your fill of the bread? According to Jesus you must believe in Him alone! The only one who can satisfy your soul that gives eternal life? Because in the last days we will be raised with Him in the fullness of His glory all because we believed in the bread of Life who came save sinners. “It is told of Sadhu Sundar Singh, a converted Sikh, who became a Christian missionary in India many years ago, was distributing Gospels in the Central Provinces of India and he came to some non-Christians on the railway train and offered a man a copy of John's Gospel. The man took it, tore it in pieces in anger and threw the pieces out of the window. That seemed the end, but it so happened, in the Providence of God, there was a man anxiously seeking for truth walking along the line that very day, and he picked up as he walked along a little bit of paper and looked at it, and the words on it in his own language were 'the Bread of Life'. He did not know what it meant; but he enquired among his friends and one of them said: 'I can tell you; it is out of the Christian book. You must not read it or you will be defiled.' The man thought for a moment and then said: 'I want to read the book that contains that beautiful phrase': and he bought a copy of the New Testament. He was shown where the sentence occurred-our Lord's words 'I am the Bread of Life'; and as he studied the gospel, the light flooded into his heart, he came to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he became a preacher of the gospel in the Central Provinces of India. That little bit of paper through God's Spirit was indeed the Bread of life to him, satisfying his deepest need.” I hope it’s been made plain to you this morning that Jesus is all you need to experience eternal life. There is nothing you can do other than believe that He came to give eternal life to those who come to Him in repentance and faith. The question is: What have you done with Jesus? Have you received Him into your heart and life? Are you secure in your salvation this morning? If you died, where would you spend eternity? Are you only concerned with this life [the physical]? Please, don’t be deceived by misplaced affections, Jesus is the real thing. He’s the Bread of Life. So my question for you is this! Do you know Jesus personally? If not, you can, if you will come to Him right now through genuine repentance and faith. Just as the Apostle Paul said "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." 1 Tim 1:15. Jesus Christ “The Bread of Life"