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The Bread of Life (part 2)
Good Morning, from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team, to all who are reading this message; I welcome each of you gathering by way of the internet. Once again, I praise God as we are able to share His Word all over the world.
The title of my message is “The Bread of Life” (part two) and the scripture is found in John 6:41-50 which we’ll read in a moment. If you would turn there, you will be able to follow along.
Again, we come to one of the most beloved discourses that Jesus ever gave on the bread of life. This is given on the morning after He walked on the Sea of Galilee, the day after He had fed the multitude with the loaves and the fishes.
In this discourse Christ more than anything else presents His deity. This is John’s theme and by deity, I mean He is God, Christ is God, not a god, not one of many gods, not lesser than THE God but He is the one and only God in a human body. This is John’s theme again and again relentlessly, he bears on this theme.
It’s interesting in noticing that John is more concerned about the words and claims of Christ than the miracles. The miracles are all right, but the words of Christ are really the burden of John’s heart. It’s almost as if John just sort of flies by the miracles, to hurry up and get to the claims of Christ.
Now reading from John 6, beginning at verse 41. “The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ And they said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He saith I came down from heaven?’ Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, ‘Murmur not among yourselves, no man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets and they shall all be taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, except He who is of God, He hath seen the Father. Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread that cometh down from heaven that a man may eat of it and not die.”
Father bless this scripture to our hearts.
We are in the midst of the continuing discourse of Christ in which He presents Himself as the bread of life. In the gospel of John, Christ says over and over again, “I am the bread of life, I am the water, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the good shepherd, I am the door.” There are many “I AM’s” in the gospel of John. One such I am is this one, “I am the bread of life.” And in this claim, Christ is saying that He is the satisfier of the soul. That He is the One who completely satisfies human need from a spiritual standpoint. As food satisfies the body, so does Jesus Christ ultimately, finally, and everlastingly satisfy the soul. That claim is in the words “I am the bread of life.”
We are in the middle of this discourse, this is a long sermon, from verse 26 to 71, that whole passage is one long sermon, the theme of which is the bread of life. Verses 1 to 25 of John 6, are merely a historical setting for this sermon in which Christ presents Himself as the bread of life. The whole sermon or the whole discourse takes place in Capernaum in the synagogue.
Now, these Jews don’t think there’s anything wrong with their souls; although Jesus was talking about spiritual things, they never got their eyes off the physical on to the spiritual. They were always thinking He was talking of physical, even when He said, “I’ll give you bread so that you can live forever.” Even when He said, “I’ll give you spiritual sustenance that is permanent.” They were thinking of physical things for He said to them, “I’ll give you the bread of life,” and they said, “Oh, give it to us, keep on giving it to us,” and they were thinking He was talking about some super-duper physical bread that makes you live forever. That’s how far off they were. No matter how He spoke of it, they never got the message.
Notice the reaction to Jesus’ words in verses 41 and 42. Verse 41, “The Jews then murmured at Him because He said, I am the bread that came down from heaven.” There are the two things they didn’t like. They didn’t like the fact that He said “I am the bread,” and they didn’t like the fact that He said He came down from heaven. When He said, “I am the bread,” He shattered all of their misconceptions. He just destroyed their hopes for physical food. And then when He said He came down from heaven, they thought He was some kind of a lunatic, or a liar and to begin to mock Him.
At this point the Galileans became hostile to Christ. The Jewish people in Galilee began to be hostile. You remember how the Jews became hostile to Jesus and drove Him to Galilee? Now He gets to Galilee and they become hostile to Him. So wherever He has been He has bred hostility because hostility springs from the root of unbelief.
It’s kind of an interesting thought here, it’s not His deeds that created hostility, it’s always His definitive claims. Nobody griped when He fed the multitude. Nobody ever gripes when He heals them, they love that. As long as He does all these wonderful things, everything is great. But as soon as He started making definitive statements about who He is and what He wants out of people, men just move away. Unbelief comes from that, not the deeds of Christ, from the definitive claims of Christ when He says, “I am that bread,” “I came down from heaven,” and they walk away. As long as He’s feeding their faces, as long as He’s healing their diseases, as long as He’s doing those kind of things they’ll stay around, they’ll stick around but, when He starts making definitive claims and demands on their lives they walk away. And they don’t walk away indifferent, they walk away hostile.
You’ll notice a very interesting thought here, the word in verse 41 is “Jews.” We know that this refers to the people of Israel, the Hebrews, the seed of Abraham. But this word “Jews” carries a very significant connotation in John’s gospel; it is always used in connection with hostility. The word “Jews” is always the selected word to speak of the children of Israel when it speaks of their hostility toward Christ. And John uses it again and again as a term in connection with their hostility. So whenever you see it, note the text because it’s an indication of the breeding of hostility.
They are completely blind of Christ’s purpose. They wanted to make a political economic Messiah out of Him. They had no idea of His plan. They were ignorant of everything He came to do. They were too self-righteous to think they needed spiritual food, too self-satisfied to think that He could do anything for them. And so they missed the whole point of repentance and faith, and that’s what really destroyed Christ’s image, as it were, in their minds. They could not see a Messiah who demanded repentance because they didn’t think they had any problem, that again being the same problem.
Today men treat Christ the same way. They reject Christ because they feel no need of Him, because they are too smug, too indifferent, too self-centered, and too self-righteous to think they have need of anything. It’s kind of an interesting thing because most people spend all their time gorging themselves on food and refusing the sweet bread of life. And like those Jews, when men today are faced and confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ, they still grumble, they still mutter, they still mock in whispers of unbelief.
There’s a fantastic truth here and I want us to get it. When a person comes to the Lord Jesus Christ honestly, genuinely, earnestly seeking to know the truth, that person will know the truth. God will reveal it. A little child can understand when a heart is right.
If the Lord presents some truth clearly but the unbelieving heart refuses to believe that truth, an open rejection and self-righteous unbelief turns away; Jesus invariably seems to make the truth more difficult rather than simpler. When somebody refused to believe the clear statement of truth, then Jesus didn’t make it more clear, He began to make it more bewildering, confounding them in their own unbelief.
The parables are great examples; in the parables Jesus Christ was hiding things from the wise and prudent and revealing them to babes. If men will not have the truth of God when it is presented to them, it deliberately can be taken away from them and they can be blinded by God so they cannot see the truth. That’s serious.
Remember, Pharaoh hardened his heart so God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so he couldn’t see the truth. Israel willfully chose the path of disobedience. When they did that, God said, quote: “I will choose their delusions.” In the day of Antichrist the Bible says the man that does not believe in Christ, God will send strong delusion and they will believe a lie. Who sends the delusion? God does. Great serious responsibility is put on the man or woman to whom God’s truth is proclaimed. It is given that we might believe and it is not a trifling thing.
You may sit under the hearing of the gospel and listen to the message of Jesus Christ and you may say, “Well all in good time I can come whenever I want.” Don’t you believe that, Jesus said, “Nobody comes to Me except the Father draws him.” You come to Jesus Christ only when God draws you and it is no trifling thing to hear the truth of Jesus Christ and reject that truth, it is not your option. It’s a serious responsibility.
When these Jews did not believe the simple truth of Christ, He began to confound their minds and the more He said, the more bewildered they became and they became blinded and did not understand and finally walked away in a bewildered hostility. And right here in this chapter we see the beginning of this bewildered hostility as they begin to move away from Christ.
I want to show two fantastic passages, I want us to get these because these are basic doctrine, and maybe even a little heavy. Verse 37 of John 12, “But there He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him.” Now watch this, “That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spoke, ‘Lord, who had believed our report and to whom at the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe.”
They hardened their hearts, so God hardened their hearts. You harden your heart against the gospel of Jesus Christ after you have heard it; you are on dangerous ground. Verse 39, “Therefore they could not believe because Isaiah said, ‘He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts that they should not see with their eyes, or understand with their hearts and be converted and I should hear them.” This is the judicial blindness of God against unbelief. God actually prevents them from believing, that’s serious stuff.
The heart that hardens against God is confirmed in hardness. The purpose of Israel’s judicial blindness is indicated in Romans 11:8–11, where God says in blinding Israel, salvation came to the Gentiles. By setting Israel in its judicial blindness, God then moved to the Gentiles with the message of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that kind of hard on Israel? Ultimately the Bible also says that this blinding is not permanent and it’s not total. There are some believing Jews coming to Jesus Christ. There has been a remnant in every age. It’s not total blindness. Romans 11:26 says, “Some day, so all Israel shall be saved.” So the blinding of Israel has a purpose; it is to allow the gospel to move to the Gentiles. This is serious doctrine.
These Jews exhibit this unbelief at the simplest statement of Christ, what could be simpler than saying to someone, “You need spiritual food and I’m that food?” That’s so simple, a child can understand it. But they were confounded by their unbelief and their wretchedness. So they begin to murmur in unbelief. So the words of Jesus from this time on to those Galileans became more bewildering.
Verse 42, they didn’t like the fact that He came from heaven so listen to what they say. “Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph whose father and mother we know, how is it then that He saith I came down from heaven? Who’s He kidding? I know Him. Why, I know His father, Joseph, he lives over there in Nazareth. Down form heaven … who could confuse Nazareth with heaven?” One other time they said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I don’t know what was wrong with Nazareth, but evidently it wasn’t the glamorous spot of Israel. What does He mean “come down from heaven?” He came right out of Nazareth.
Isn’t it amazing how great infinite truth can be presented and people don’t even know what’s going on? Jesus had just told them that He came from God; they were saying, “I don’t understand, Nazareth over there …” That’s what happens to the unbelieving mind. When Jesus says to you, “I came down from heaven,” what does that say to you? That says to me He came from God. That says John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh…” That’s what that says to me. You know what it says to the unbeliever? “Oh, Nazareth; it doesn’t make sense.” Unbelief blinds the mind. Somebody doesn’t understand and says, “He can’t be from heaven He comes from Nazareth. I know His own father Joseph.” They thought they knew everything.
That same claim of Jesus Christ is the same claim today that people are stumbling all over. It’s that claim that Jesus makes to have come from God and be the only soul-satisfier in the universe. That’s the claim that people still stumble on. That’s the stumbling block and the rock of offense of unbelief. People can tolerate everything about Christ but His definitive claims.
People say, “Oh, Jesus, oh He did a wonderful thing, He was a great man.” But then when you say to them, “Do you know that He said that He is the only way to God?” “Well, I mean, that’s going a little far.” They can take Jesus’ personality and all of the little things that He did and the deeds that He did but you just start making definitive claims and people back off.
So we see their reaction to Jesus’ words, they don’t believe Him. Now notice the rebuke in verse 43 and following, to 47, He rebukes them. “Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.” Stop murmuring, stop that sullen undertone whispering, stop it.
They have seen Jesus Christ the whole day on the northwest corner of the Galilee Sea healing people. They have seen Him feed from His hands, creating bread and fish. And there they are standing there mumbling. And Jesus says … Stop it.
Verse 43, “Murmur not among yourselves.” It’s a good insight into why people sometimes don’t understand the things of God. They never get any further than talking to each other. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:5, “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” In essence, what Jesus is doing here is saying, “If you guys can’t see who I am by My power, My logic won’t take you to first base. If you don’t see who I am when I feed the multitude, if you don’t see who I am when I raise the sick, if you can’t see Me in My power, all the words in the world aren’t going to tell you who I am.” You deny the power and the logic means nothing. So Jesus doesn’t argue, He just keeps on confounding them with more spiritual mystery.
In verse 44, “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him. And I will raise him up at the last day.” What does verse 44 have to do with verse 43? What’s the context here?
Just this, He is seeing their unbelief and seeing their unbelief He says, “Stop murmuring.” Then He explains their situation and why they don’t believe. Look at it in verse 44, “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him.” Those are serious words and they make clear the depth of unbelief. He is looking at them and saying, “You unbelievers, I understand why you don’t believe, I understand the depth of your unbelief and I also understand that only God can change it.” It’s almost like what He did in verse 36 and 37 where He said, “You’ve seen Me and believe not.” And then He kind of stops and says, “But I know that all that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” In other words, He’s almost qualifying their unbelief by explaining how it is and saying, “I know they do not believe and their only hope is if God draws them.
Sometimes the gospel is beyond the human mind. It’s beyond the human will. You know the gospel is too humbling for the proud. The gospel is too demanding for the rebellious. The gospel is too lofty for the darkened mind. The gospel is too holy for the earthbound corruption of the human heart.
So how in the world do we ever get to God? Somebody says, “You must seek God.” Paul says, “No man seeks after God.” The Old Testament psalmist said, “Nobody seeks God.”
So how do you get to God? If your will is so depraved, if you don’t seek God, how does it happen?” Very simple, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man is come to seek.” Who’s lost? Not God. We don’t seek God. We don’t read in our Bible about the lost sheep looking for the shepherd. The shepherd went after the sheep. We can’t find God. God’s not lost. We can’t even seek God. You see, no man with an unchanged heart and mind ever wants God. It’s abnormal. Why? Because men love darkness rather than light. The natural man cannot act contrary to his nature. It’s impossible for a heart that loves darkness to fall in love with light. Can’t happen.
So, Jesus says you can’t come, you can’t come on your own, apart from God’s drawing nobody can come. So, why do men reject Jesus Christ? Because they’re fallen, sinful and they love sin so much that they can’t possibly see good. That’s the human side of rejection. That’s the cause for unbelief.
For man to choose Christ on his own would be to ignore Scripture and the depraved state of his will. It’s not that men can’t come to Christ. I believe the will of man can come to Christ but I don’t believe it wants to.
I came to Christ one day because I wanted Him. I willed to come. I didn’t know it at the time but I willed it because the Father was drawing me. The question of my will is just this, if God draws my will it can come. The problem is, apart from the drawing of God, I don’t want to come to God. My will won’t come. No man seeks God. Then the Bible says, “Whosoever will may come.” But the only ones who will come are the ones who want to come and the only ones who want to come are the ones drawn by the Father because the natural man seeks the other direction. The only ones who will ever come to God are those whose will has been changed by God Himself.
Paul said in Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind or the will is enmity against God. And Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Can the leopard change his spots? Then may you also do good who are accustom to doing evil?” And the answer is no. And incidentally, if you do have the desire to come to God, guess what? God’s drawing you. Praise the Lord. “No man comes to Me except the Father who has sent Me draw him.”
Doesn’t that put a lot on God’s part? Right, salvation is totally of God. You can’t come unless He draws. But what about human responsibility? aren’t I responsible? Yes, from the human standpoint we’re responsible to believe and receive Christ. I don’t understand the difference? The Bible teaches that God is totally responsible for salvation because of man’s incapacity. But the Bible also teaches Man is totally responsible for his own sin and guilt and unbelief. That’s hard to understand. That’s just one of the mysteries of the Word of God that all of salvation is done by God and yet we’re responsible for not believing.
You know what it all revolves around? We’ve got to come back to two things. Number one, realize how really inadequate and stupid we are. Just realize we can’t grasp divine truth. You’re lucky, and so am I, to get a little pinch of it and then when we’ve got that we think we’ve got it by the tail. We can’t understand the vastness of God. The second thing after we’ve realized how small we are is to just believe … just trust God … just trust Him.
It’s not for us to know all the answers of the mysteries of God; it’s just to trust Him completely. Somebody says, “Well if God chooses and draws why do I witness? I mean, if God’s going to draw, who needs me?” That’s not your question. Your question is does the Bible say to witness? The answer is yes. Don’t try to resolve the mystery, just obey. Interestingly enough, God has also chosen the method and we are the method. Our question is not to resolve the mysteries of God, our question is to obey. That’s where the joy is.
So Jesus illustrates this tremendous truth. Then in order to kind of really tie in to them tightly, He pushes it further in verse 45 by telling them that this is nothing new, this is something their prophets knew. Verse 45, “It’s written in your prophets, as if to say, and they shall all be taught of God.” Why is it so strange for me to tell you that you can only come to Me if God draws you. All the drawing, all the teaching is from God. Your prophets told you this. He’s quoting from Isaiah 54, but He’s inferring statements that are found all over the place, Jeremiah, Joel, Malachi, Micah, Zephaniah, all taught that all true teaching comes from God. They also taught that in the messianic age all teaching would be direct from God. There are passages in all those books that in the messianic age all teaching would come direct from God. And so He’s saying even your prophets told you in the messianic age you’d be taught of God, why so strange for Me to say to you, you have to be drawn by God? And to be drawn by God means the same as being taught by Him. Why is it so strange for Me to say this, your prophets told you this was the way it would be when Messiah came? That you would know the truth only as God drew you and taught you.
Then He adds this. “Every man (singular) therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto Me.” Every man that God draws comes to Christ. And the other side of it is this, if you come to Me in faith and repentance, it is simply and only because you have been drawn, you have learned and been taught by God. I can just see their minds, “Oh, what is He inferring, that we have never been taught by God?” Exactly, He’s saying to them, “If you were taught by God, you’d come to Me.”
What did they pride themselves on? The fact that they were the students of God’s Word, the fact that God had given them all the information, that they had all the knowledge of God. And He says, “Well, if God had really taught you, you’d come to Me because all that God teaches come to Me.” Ouch! So He has really rebuked them by their own prophets.
Then in verse 46: “Not that any man hath seen the Father, except He who is of God, He has seen the Father.” In other words, I’m the one who has seen Him.
Then in verse 47 He adds this most glorious truth. “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” I’m the One, I’m the representation of God here, just believe on Me. Notice the present tense, “hath.” When do you get everlasting life? I’ve got it right now. I’ve got everlasting life right now. I’m going to live forever, so are you if you know Christ, present tense, “hath.”
How do I really know whether I’m being drawn? I mean, how do I know whether the Father’s drawing Me?” Well I’ll tell you how you can settle that real easy. Have you ever come to Jesus? If you have, do you think it was your depraved will that loves darkness that brought you? Have you ever had a desire to come to Christ? Is there somewhere in your heart, some small desire to come to Jesus Christ? Do you think that’s the desire of your corrupt will? That’s the drawing of the Father. Does your heart hunger for the bread of life? Do you desire God’s power? That’s not your depravity, that’s Jesus Christ and the Father drawing you. Believe Jesus is God’s Son? Do you believe He’s the soul satisfier? That faith, however small, is the drawing power of God. And your part is come … just come and believe and believe.
Notice how Christ restates His original theme. Having answered them and rebuked them, He goes right back to what He was saying, verse 48, “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead.” That manna that you think was so great, that couldn’t keep them alive. Not only did they die physically but they were in sad shape spiritually too. You know why they died physically? Because they were spiritually disqualified from going into the land. That manna didn’t help them spiritually or physically.
Verse 50, “But this is the bread that cometh down from heaven that a man may eat of it and not die.” Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life.” Christ is that bread that gives life, that bread that satisfies. If in your heart you sense God drawing, make this the day when you receive Him. It’s no trifling matter to disbelieve the clear presentation of God, lest you be blinded.
Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word, so many important truths. Father, we do not attempt to untangle all Your mysteries. Lord, we just feel like such a inept, helpless teacher because we just can’t fit these things into our little brains. But, God, we pray, we beg You that Your Spirit will teach us. These mysteries can’t be resolved but faith is still there and we trust You. O God, mostly we pray this morning for those to whom Your Spirit speaks that are being drawn by the Father, may they come. Father, if some heart is being drawn, may this be the day that they in faith say, “Christ, I come, I want You, take my life, forgive my sin.” May this be that day. This we pray in Christ’s Name. Amen.