John – God Speaks!
Children’s minds are not like adult minds. As a former first grade teacher I had to be careful how I explained new concepts because many times what I thought I was saying was not necessarily what they were hearing, picturing and interpreting in their minds. That’s why as teachers we ask many questions to clarify what the students are learning. We want to make sure they “get it” before moving on to the next step in the process.
It also happens at home and is brought to school in the form of a “new learning” they receive from home. For instance, a little girl announced to her class one morning, “My dad taught me how to make love!” She was so excited to share this new information. I’m pretty sure I have YOUR attention at this point. Her teacher, in her first year of teaching, overheard this joyful statement and brought her into the hall. She also ran over to my classroom for help from her mentor in the matter.
Since I was the more experienced teacher, I calmly asked the little girl to repeat her new learning. More than ready to share her news, the little girl said, “My dad taught me how to make love without all the words!”
“Ah, that sounds so interesting, can you show us how he told you?”
“Oh, yes!” Then she began to ‘write’ on her arm with her finger while telling us, “You write ‘I’ then draw a heart, then write ‘you’…’I love you’…with a heart! That’s how to make love.”
The younger teacher giggled in relief. I bent down and told the little girl, “THAT is news worth sharing to the class.”
Jesus is teaching the masses who now followed after being fed in the wilderness with a few fish and loaves of bread, “I AM the Bread of Life. He takes his learners back to the manna days of Moses and God’s people who roamed the desert because of disobedience. Being the Master Teacher he begins with what they already know and tries to take them farther in their thinking.
But even Jesus had skeptics who refused to understand what he was saying. They just could and would not believe that He was Who He said He was. Refusing to believe, taking every word literally, they were turning down eternal life with Him. Wow.
Many wanted to be around Him for what He could do. But were not committed enough to believe who He was.
Are we like that in our world today?
John 6, New Living Translation
Jesus, the Bread of Life
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. 23 Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. 25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.
39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. 45 As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)
47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.
53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
JESUS LOSES HIS CROWD
As you read the gospel records, note that our Lord was never impressed by the great crowds. He knew that their motives were not pure and that most of them followed Him in order to watch His miracles of healing. “Bread and circuses” was Rome’s formula for keeping the people happy, and people today are satisfied with that kind of diet. Give them food and entertainment and they are happy. Rome set aside ninety-three days each year for public games at government expense. It was cheaper to entertain the crowds than to fight them or jail them.
We must never be deceived by the “popularity” of Jesus Christ among certain kinds of people today. Very few want Him as Savior and Lord. Many want Him only as Healer or Provider, or the One who rescues them from problems they have made for themselves. “For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
The purpose of the sign was that He might preach the sermon. Again, it was a ministry of “grace and truth” (John 1:17). In grace, our Lord fed the hungry people, but in truth, He gave them the Word of God. They wanted the food but they did not want the truth, and, in the end, most of them abandoned Jesus and refused to walk with Him. He lost His crowd with one sermon!
No doubt some of the people who had been fed simply went away to their homes, while others stayed to see what Jesus would do next. This sermon on “the bread of life” is actually a dialogue between Christ and the people, especially the religious leaders (“the Jews”).
Jesus pointed out that there are two kinds of food: food for the body, which is necessary but not the most important, and food for the inner man, the spirit, which is essential. What the people needed was not food but life, and life is a gift. Food only sustains life, but Jesus gives eternal life. The words of Isaiah come to mind: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2 nasb).
The people picked up the word labor and misinterpreted it to mean they had to work for salvation. They completely missed the word give. Steeped in legalistic religion, they thought they had to “do something” to merit eternal life. Jesus made it clear that only one “work” was necessary—to believe on the Savior. When a person believes on Christ, he is not performing a good work that earns him salvation. There is certainly no credit in believing, for it is what God does in response to our faith that is important (see Eph. 2:8–10).
The result of this message was the loss of most of our Lord’s disciples. They went back to the old life, the old religion, and the old hopeless situation. Jesus Christ is “the way” (John 14:6), but they would not walk with Him. This was no surprise to the Lord, because He knows the hearts of all people.
When Jesus asked His twelve apostles if they planned to desert Him too, it was Peter who spoke up and declared their faith. Where else could they go? “You have the words of eternal life.” Peter got the message! He knew that Jesus was speaking about the Word and not about literal flesh and blood.
The preaching of the Word of God always leads to a sifting of the hearts of the listeners. God draws sinners to the Savior through the power of truth, His Word. Those who reject the Word will reject the Savior. Those who receive the Word will receive the Savior and experience the new birth, eternal life.
Do you feel your need because there is a spiritual hunger within? Are you willing to admit that need and come to the Savior? If you will, He will save you and satisfy you forever!
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
I get it. I believe. Teach me. Transform me.
In Jesus Name, Amen