This week we looked at the claim Jesus makes in John 6 that He is the Bread of Life.
People assume the purpose of religion is to have God as a helper who provides them with abundance and happiness, perhaps through material possessions, a promotion at work, or inner peace and tranquility.
In America, we live in a society spiritually marked by what people call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The 5 central tenants of this religious worldview are:
A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth
God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other as taught in the Bible and by most world religions
The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself
God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem
Good people go to heaven when they die
This is a Jesus-less belief system. This is American spirituality that has no need for a savior. Jesus has no place or value. He will never be valued because He is irrelevant at best.
In John 6:35, Jesus confronts and destroys this belief system: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Bread: Bread was the central, critical food item and Jesus calls Himself the bread of life (bread=survival)
Life: There are two Greek words for “life” (bios=exist; zoe=live) and Jesus uses the word “zoe” to emphasize that the bread of God is coming from heaven to give life.
Believe: The word used was “pisteuo” meaning to entrust oneself to another. Belief does not mean laboring or working for God. In fact, to receive the bread of God, you actually must stop laboring and working for it. Belief is a personal relationship with a very real and personable God.
With these three words in mind, we can further unpack this grand statement of Jesus’ that He makes in John 6 shortly after He feeds the multitude:
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Jesus tells the crowd that they are seeking Him for the wrong reasons. They came to Him only to fill their physical appetite, but He offers them something different and much better: Jesus moves from their physical need to their spiritual one.
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
When they then ask Jesus how they should work for God, His response is that they must believe. Working for Jesus does not make Jesus precious to you; Seeking and savoring Jesus makes Him precious to you.
30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
When the people finally say they want the bread of life, Jesus tells them that He is the bread of life.
Jesus did not comE into the world mainly to give bread, but to be bread.
Like the crowd in the story, we often come to Jesus only to get what we can from Him. The problem with this mentality is that God is not a mere helper to make our lives better; He is life. Jesus did not come to meet our earthly desires; He came to change our desires.
Do you see Jesus as useful or do you see Him as the treasure?
If Jesus is the Bread of Life, then nothing else can be. The good life is not found in possessions or circumstances but in His presence. It is not something He gives but something He is.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. 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.”
Because Jesus is the Bread of Life broken for us, He must be consumed. Jesus makes everyone choose: Either He is the Bread of Life, you believe and you consume Him… or you walk away.
Following Jesus is about getting Jesus. It’s not about what He will give you. Jesus isn’t a means to an end; His promises begin and end with His presence.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
The commitment to Jesus is often high when He gives people what they want, but many turn away when He reveals his identity and thus calls for their lives.
Who is Jesus to you?
Is Jesus the Bread of Life broken for you? Does your life reveal that? Do you really believe that the good life is found in Him? If none of your earthly desires were granted or if they were ripped away, would you still follow Jesus because He is the only bread of life?
Because Jesus is the Bread of Life, we must repent of everything else we’ve been chasing, and of all the ways we’ve viewed Jesus as merely helpful or useful, and come and eat.