Prepared by John E. Marshall
To this crowd, Moses and manna epitomized God=s dealings with His people. Jesus pointed them to truths higher than Moses and manna.
John 6:32 (Holman) Jesus said to them, AI assure you: Moses didn=t give you the bread from heaven, but My father gives you the real bread from heaven.@
Jesus corrected two misconceptions. He told them manna was not a gift from Moses, and it was not the real bread from heaven, but merely symbolized it.
Moses did not give manna to them. They were not obliged to him for it. He was but God=s instrument. Jesus urged the crowd to look past Moses to God.
Confusing the instrument with the agent, they placed more honor on the clay than on the Potter. The honor due God was being given to Moses.
This is ever a strong temptation among us. We often do not give God the honor He deserves. Scientists fall into this mistake when they talk about forces and laws of nature other than as expressions of God=s power and will.
My college Biology professor began his lessons on evolution by saying he was not an atheist. He claimed he believed God played a role somewhere in the process. Weeks later he had concluded his teachings without hinting at any place where he thought God might have fit in.
Historians can make rash remarks about cause and effect. I once heard a politician say, AWhat made America great was cheap energy.@ Not true! Cheap energy was merely an instrument. The cause of our greatness is God=s Providence.
Christians make this error when they ascribe a powerful work of God to a preacher or another individual. Jesus taught this crowd God must have honor and glory. Never forget, AEvery generous act and perfect gift is from above@ (James 1:17). To God be the glory, every day, everywhere, and in everything.
John 6:33-34 AFor the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.@ Then they said, ASir give us this bread always!@
When Jesus mentioned bread that Agives life to the world,@ this crowd perked up. They did not fully understand what Jesus was saying, but recognized value in it. They knew they needed more than what they had.
Their request bespoke anxiety as well as anticipation. Every person at one time or another senses this same angst, feeling they have not found their element. They sense they are not all they were intended to be. Like a caged bird, they feel a life in them too important to be confined in narrow bounds.
Do we feel these inner longings? Do we sense unfulfilled high ambitions? Earthly aspirations are not our element. We were meant for more, for God. Every moment of life was intended to be lived in communion with Him.
The crowd=s request in our text was well worded, but in vain because they did not recognize in the bread the Giver of life nor in the Giver the Bread of life. They rejected Jesus and what His miracle had tried to say to them.
The crowd hungered, the Bread of life was readily available, but they distrusted the Lord=s words and deeds.
John 6:35a AI am the bread of life,@ Jesus told them.
The Jews asked for something physical from Christ. He offered them Himself. The best gift had been given to them by God and was standing before them. Christ was a more wonderful sign than any of His miracles.
We can enjoy nothing of Christ apart from Christ Himself. We cannot separate what Jesus gives from what Jesus is. Plato, Buddha, or Thomas Jefferson don=t have to be accepted for their teachings to be accepted, but we cannot embrace Christ=s teachings while doing whatever we want to with Christ. He not only gives truth; He is the truth.
Jesus did not merely point people to important doctrines. He rather claimed, I am the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the door (10:7, 9), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the way, the truth, and the life (14:6), and the vine (15:5).
Jesus= claims were so plain and understandable that if anyone misinterpreted Him, it would be the result of their own refusal to believe. Unbelief can never be blamed on obscurity in Jesus= language.
Thank God for the simplicity and clarity of the Gospel. Ours is not a lesson of mathematics, physics, or chemistry. It is not confined to scholars, but is given for every person.
Jesus used simple symbols. It was condescending for Him to call Himself bread, the commonest article on a table, but the application was thereby made obvious.
AI am the bread of life@ is not simply a sentimental, and beautifully poetic, phrase. Bread sustains life. Without bread life cannot continue.
Jesus, the bread of life, initiates, nourishes, and supports spiritual life. Apart from Jesus, people only exist. There is no real life until people have a personal relationship with God. Without Jesus, there can be no communion with God.
People need Jesus. He is a necessity, not a luxury. We may like to have money, cars, and flowers, but must have bread. People cannot get rid of Christ because they cannot get rid of themselves or escape their desires. They long to know God; and Jesus is the only One who satisfies this longing.
John 6:35b ANo one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.@
Jesus is the bread of life, but an unappropriated Christ is of no use. Bread uneaten can not end our hunger. The bread of life satisfies only the one who Acomes@ and Abelieves.@
We must come to Jesus as spiritual beggars, with a whole needy personality. We come as a suppliant needing alms, as a child desiring a parent=s help.
Since Jesus is the bread of Life, the implication is, whoever comes to Him leaves an old life of beggarly famines and total inability to satisfy.
Nothing in the old life of famine can satisfy us spiritually. Nothing in the old life can we bring to win God=s favor. We are saved absolutely without merit. All we can do is receive.
Salvation is not a matter of bringing anything to Christ. Realizing we do not deserve what He has to offer, we come to Him empty handed.
All we can bring is hunger, but this painful hunger is a sign of health. It means we are preparing to seek help. Mending patients are doing well when they regain a good appetite. Sinners are mending when they begin to feel a gnawing need for bread from heaven.
I urge us to seek our spiritual satisfaction in Jesus. He meets our every need. In our behalf God did not spare any expense. He sent His only Son. Jesus came from heaven not merely to keep us from absolute starvation, but to meet abundantly all our needs. Jesus said we will never hunger, and never thirst.
Charles Spurgeon was often a guest of a farmer friend who always treated the preacher to a huge feast, including an enormous hunk of beef which weighed several pounds. One day Spurgeon commented, AIf I were to take this home, it would last me a month. Why do you fix me so much food when I visit you?@
The farmer replied, AIf I could get a bigger cut of meat I would, for I am so glad to see you, and if you could eat it all, you should be heartily welcome. I want you to feel that I will do my very best for you.@
When Ruth and I were young, Goldie and Gladys McKay would serve us huge T-bone steaks every time they had us over for a meal. The extravagance of their sacrifice bespoke their love for us.
Brothers and sisters, look at the table God has spread for us. See how lavishly He prepares for us, His children. He treats us like honored guests.
He who fed the multitudes, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, ACome and dine.@