Jesus, the Bread of Life
September 24, 2023

Jesus, the Bread of Life

Preacher:
Passage: John 6:25-34

Introduction: "I AM the Bread of Life"

Tonight we’re starting the first week of a new study, looking at Seven Statements Jesus makes about himself. They’re often called the “I AM” Statements of Jesus, because each of these comments begins with the words, “I AM,” and then he proceeds to give a metaphor that explains who He is. The words, “I AM” are already significant, because on the Old Testament, God reveals himself to His people with the name “I AM” – Yahweh. Jesus does the same here in John’s gospel. But as we consider these statements, we’ll be focusing on the significance of the metaphors and word pictures Jesus uses to reveal his identity.

The first “I AM” Statement of Jesus appears in John, Chapter 6. If you have your Bible with you, you can turn there with me now. [There are four accounts of Jesus’s life in the Bible called the Gospels – The first is Matthew, then Mark, then Luke, then John. Earlier in John, Chapter 6, Jesus performs one of his best known miracles. Starting with just fives loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus multiplies the food to feed more than 5,000 people. The people are really impressed by this, and they go hunting for Jesus the following day to see what else he can do for them. And this is where we’ll pick up – John 6, starting at verse 25. [Pray and Read Text].

What Do Many People Want From God?

People usually don’t pursue Jesus Christ unless they think he can give something they want. This is true today. And this has just about always been true. The crowd that Jesus miraculously fed with bread and fish are on a hunt for Jesus, and in verse 25 of our text, they find him. But why are they hunting for him?

Normally we can’t see what motivates people’s hearts – but Jesus’s words in verse 26 reveal what’s happening here: “Jesus answered them [the crowd], ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.’” In other words, the people want Jesus simply because they want more food – they had a good experience with Jesus and want to repeat it.

Now, I’m not saying that the people totally misunderstood Jesus’s miracle. They knew it was a sign from heaven. Right after they finished their meal, John 6:14 tells us, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world.’”

The people understood: the last time that bread supernaturally showed up for God’s people to eat was when the great Prophet Moses led the people from Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land. And Moses had promised in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.” So when Jesus shows up and performs a sign similar to Moses’s sign, the people recognize this is probably the guy we’ve been waiting for! A great prophet, just like Moses, living in our day! Amazing!

But these people are just looking for Jesus to give them short-term earthly good and services. Jesus calls them out on this in verse 26. The reason these people are running after Jesus isn’t because they see His fullness and preciousness – it’s not because they’re hungry to know God more deeply. Instead, these people are chasing Jesus simply because they want him to fill their stomachs.

Foolish! Aren’t they? To have the Son of God right there, presenting himself as the Great Prophet who surpasses Moses, who most clearly reveals the mysteries of God – and all they can think about is getting another piece of bread.

But before we give them a hard time, think about your own hearts for a minute. Isn’t this just like us? When we run after Jesus, isn’t it usually just because we have some sort of issue to be fixed, or some sort of gift we want him to give? – I’m tired, please help me sleep! I’m stressed, please give me peace! I’m sad, please give me comfort! Jesus could give us a similar rebuke, “Truly, truly, you’re seeking me, not because you care about me, or the great signs I’m giving to encourage your faith. No, you’re just seeking me because you want me to gratify your cravings – to give you worldly comfort and success.”

Jesus is concerned that this crowd – that all of us – are too fixated on our earthly appetites, and not hungry enough for an eternity with God. So he speaks urgently in verse 27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man of will give to you. For on him, God the Father has set His seal.”

What Does God Want From People?

Notice how the people respond in verse 28, “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” They just heard Jesus say, “Don’t work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life,” and the people latch on to the idea of working. They want to know – okay, Jesus, what’s the work that will lead to eternal life? What does God want from me?

And more likely than not, the people are expecting Jesus to list off some rules from the Law of Moses – Observe the Sabbath, Honor your parents, and all the rest – but that’s not what Jesus does here. And this is intentional. The way into this eternal life that Jesus is talking about – it’s not something we accomplish or earn by working.

So what does God want from people? What must you and I be doing to receive this special type of food that endures to eternal life? Verse 29: “Jesus answered Him, ‘This is the work of God – that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” God the Father doesn’t want us to rely on our own work. Instead, He wants us to believe in him whom he has sent – to rely on Jesus – to find life from Him and from His work.

What’s So Great About Jesus that I Should Trust Him?

And the reaction of the people to this is interesting. Just a short time earlier, the people were astonished by Jesus’s miraculous provision of bread and fish. The people were praising Him as the great Prophet like Moses, ready to follow him as their king – but now Jesus doesn’t seem to be meeting their demands and expectations.

So in verse 30, they ask – “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?”

It may seem strange the people are asking this, because Jesus just performed a great sign for them. But notice why they’re challenging Jesus – it’s because in verse 31, they start comparing Jesus to Moses: “Sure, Jesus, you fed a group of 5000 people for one night. But Moses provided our fathers with bread from heaven that fed thousands of people for 40 years. Surely if you’re the great Prophet, you can at least do as much as Moses did.”

But Jesus wants to point them to something better. That’s why, in verse 32, Jesus says, “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. For the bread of God is…” – what? It actually isn’t bread at all! The bread of God isn’t a thing – it’s a person. “The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. The miraculous bread God gave in the wilderness through Moses – it wasn’t the be-all, end-all. It was a sign, pointing to the true bread from heaven that brings life – not just for the Jews, but for the world.

So who is the He who comes down from heaven? Who is the true bread? Verse 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.’” What does Jesus mean by this? Let me briefly point out three things Jesus is saying about himself.

First, Jesus is insisting that He is your Sustenance – he’s the true supplier of life. See, without Jesus, we’re as good as dead. Without Jesus, we have a Scarlet Letter of Guilt stamped on our hearts; we’re defiled by our selfish desires. [Without Jesus] we deserve death.

But we don’t have to be “without Jesus.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our guilt, and he has risen from the dead to secure immortal life for himself, and for us. And  Jesus calls to us, through His Word, to share in His life – to take him into our hearts, just as we take bread into our mouths.

Jesus himself is the spiritual bread we need for life. He’s not just reserved for special meals or holidays – he’s not the sirloin steak or baklava of life. No, Jesus is our bread – our staple food. We need him daily.

Each day, as we walk with him and trust him, he nourishes our souls. He gives us the grace to love what God loves, to despise what God despises, to do what God commands, to reject what God forbids, and to persist in these things. And this life that Jesus gives isn’t momentary. The life he has obtained for us is eternal. Our bodies will be raised from death, and we will live with him, never to die again, in a new heavens and new earth. Jesus is sustenance. He sustains us with true, unending life.

Second, Jesus being the bread of life means that Jesus is sufficient. Notice here – Jesus says whoever comes to him shall not hunger. Whoever believes in him shall never thirst. Notice how completely Jesus addresses our emptiness. He isn’t just one course of the meal, or one option of breakfast cereal from the grocery store. He’s an all you can eat buffet! Our souls don’t need Jesus + something else in order to take hold of life. No, Jesus is everything.

Third and finally, Jesus is also satisfying. The hungering and thirsting of our innermost being is resolved in Christ, because it’s through Christ that our guilty consciences are washed clean, our anxieties are laid to rest, we acquire peace with God and pleasures at his right hand, and all our present and real sufferings are swallowed up by something more permanent and precious – the expectation of future glory. Jesus isn’t promising here we’ll never experience physical hunger, or that we’ll never experience grief or pain. But he’s promising that even in our daily hardships, Christ can meet us there and satisfy us. Jesus is a fortress that will never fall, a foundation that will never crack, a fountain that will never run dry. And if he provides satisfaction and strength to our souls in this life, how much more will we enjoy satisfaction forever in the ages to come, when every sin is banished, every enemy is defeated, and every tear is wiped away? [Whoever comes to me shall never hunger. Whoever believes in me shall never thirst!].

Jesus is the bread of life, who came down from heaven, not just to feed thousands of people for 40 years like Moses – but he came so that countless millions of people from every race, ethnicity, and nation would gain immortality and fullness of life forever. So let’s not work for the food that perishes, but let’s believe in Him whom God has sent, who has come down from heaven, and who gives true life.

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