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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
 www.frcsr.com/fellowship/melville/
 
Title:Jesus Christ is the Bread that endures to eternal life
Text:John 6:35 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2018-06-17
Added:2021-12-12
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Bible Translation: ESV

Book of Praise:  2014

Psalm 16:1

Psalm 65:2

Psalm 78:8,9,11

Hymn 61:1

Psalm 63:3

 

Read: John 6:22-51

Text:  John 6:35

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

As we turn to John chapter 6 this morning, we will once more be faced with this question:  Who is Jesus?  Who is He really?  What is He like?  And, Do you really know Him?

For most if not all of you, these questions are not new.  You have heard them in past sermons, and you may even have asked them of yourself.  But the questions surrounding the Person and identity of Jesus Christ are of enormous importance.  So important in fact, that this is the reason why God wrote his gospel.  He wrote in John 20:30,31 -

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

There are many people in the world, however, who do not believe this, who do not know who Jesus really is.  They may see Him as a good man, they may revere Him as though He were an ancient Dalai Lama, and they may like His great commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself”.  But beyond that, they do not truly know Him.  They do not know who He really is.

That’s a tragedy!  To see Jesus as no more than “a nice” or “a loving” man, to see Him as no more than One who was acknowledged in His time as a great miracle worker, to recognize Him as little more than a spiritual leader misses the point of the gospel.

But how do you see Him?  What do you believe concerning Jesus Christ?  For we too need to know more than just a few nice sayings that Jesus said.  What we need to do is to do more than learn about the things He did and the parables He told.  What we need to do is even more than just read the Bible or go to church.  For what we are called to do is to come to Him, to believe in Him, yes, to believe that He is the Son of God, so that believing we might have life in His name.

And that’s what I may preach to you this morning from John chapter 6.  In John 6 the crowds did not see the Lord Jesus for who He really is.  The crowds followed after Him, Jesus said, not because they saw the signs – signs that demonstrated that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God – but because He had filled their stomachs with bread.  It was in response to this, a failure to see Christ for who He really is, that our Lord told them not to seek the food that perishes, but to seek the food that endures to eternal life.  And that food is Christ Himself, the bread of life.

I preach God’s Word to you under the following theme:

Jesus Christ is the Bread that endures to eternal life

  1.  What are you hungry for?
  2. How will you be filled?

1. What are you hungry for?

The question of who Jesus really is, is a question that has never gone away.  It was the question asked by the crowds in John 6, in Capernaum, that little town by the Sea of Galilee, and it is a question that is still asked today.  Thankfully, the Bible gives us a complete answer to this question and from the Bible, particularly from the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we learn not only what others said about the Lord Jesus, but we also learn what He said about Himself.  Over the next number of weeks we’ll be learning what He says about Himself in what are known as the “I AM” sayings of Jesus in the Gospel according to John.  These sayings are “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the light of the world (John 8:12), “I am the door” or “the gate” (John 10:7), “I am the good shepherd (John 10:11), “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).

  What is striking about each of these descriptions that the Lord Jesus makes about Himself is that when He says “I AM”, He uses a phrase in the Greek language that is striking.  He says, “Ego Eimi.”  Or “I, I AM.”  Its striking not just because it places great emphasis on the “I”, but it is also striking because of where this is found elsewhere in the Bible.  In the Old Testament, in Exodus 3:14, God revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM.”  And when the words I AM were translated from Hebrew into Greek, they were translated as Ego Eimi.   And so when Christ speaks about Himself as I AM, it is well understood that He is implying that He Himself is God!  Yes, He is the One who has come down from heaven, sent by the Father into the world so that whoever believes in Him should have everlasting life.  But more than that, when Christ adds to the words I AM by saying “I am the bread of life” or “I am the light of the world” or “I am the resurrection and the life”, He is teaching us how we are to see Him as the Great I AM, what it means that He is the Christ, the Son of God.  And that’s what He wanted the people to know who had come finding Him in John chapter 6.

John 6 begins with Jesus feeding the 5000 with five barley loaves and two small fish.  This was an amazing miracle for all those who witnessed it and verse 14 says

“Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’”

“He must be the Messiah,” they said, “the One we have been waiting for.”  They said this because they saw His miracles, they saw how he healed many and not only did they see Him miraculously produce enough bread and fish to feed a multitude, but they ate it.  But even though many began to question if Jesus was the Christ, they did not see Him for who He really was.  And so John 6:15 says that they planned to come and take the Lord Jesus by force to make Him king.  To make Him king so that He would usher in an era of health, wealth, prosperity, and freedom from the Romans.  But being aware of this, Jesus went up the mountain to be by Himself alone. 

  Meanwhile, the disciples went off on their own, and, it already being dark, they got into a boat to make their way back to Capernaum.  However, a storm came up on the sea and a great wind was blowing.  And as the storm blew, they saw Jesus, walking on the water, and they were afraid.  But Jesus said to them in verse 20,

Ego Eimi.  It is I; do not be afraid.”

And in doing this, Jesus was revealing to His disciples who He really is.  He did not walk on water to simply surprise them, nor to show off His miraculous powers.  Rather, He did so to demonstrate that He is God!  You see, this is what all the signs were pointing to.  The healing of many people that John 6:2 speaks about, the feeding of the 5000 and now His walking on water.

  But now we come to verse 22.  The next day, the people who had been with Jesus and had stayed the night on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, went to look for Him.  And they were puzzled.  The night before there was only one boat, and they’d seen the disciples leave in it without the Lord Jesus.  But now He was gone and they heard – perhaps from those who came on boats the day after – that He was now back in Capernaum.  And so, getting into the boat that came to pick them up, they went back to Capernaum and finding Him there, they said,

“Rabbi, when did You come here?”  (John 6:25)

But Jesus does not answer their question.  Instead He turned to them and said in verse 26,27-

“Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.  Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

What Jesus was saying here was,

“You came looking for me because yesterday I supplied you with a free meal.  You ate that food, your bellies were full, and now you want more of the same!  But for all your talk of whether or not I am ‘the prophet who is to come into the world’, for all you wanting to make me king, you don’t understand who I really am!  Because if you did, you wouldn’t be so keen to get another meal of bread.  If you did, you’d be coming to Me seeking the bread that endures to eternal life!”

Do you see the problem here?  Do you see what was wrong with the people who came to Jesus?  They saw the sign of the gift of bread, but they did not look past the sign to receive the Giver of bread. They saw in Jesus One who could give them a better life for the present, but they did not see Him as the One who could give them life for eternity.

But how about you?  What are you hungry for?  If you are seeking after Jesus, what are you really looking for?  What brings you here to church, and what is it that you want?  There are many people who, like the Jews in John chapter 6, can’t seem to see past the gift of bread to receive the Giver of bread.  There are many who look to Jesus and who serve him in an attempt to be healthy, wealthy and well.  To follow Christ in the hope that He’ll take away their problems and to enjoy, as that false teacher Joel Osteen puts it, “your best life now”. But that’s not the gospel!  That’s not what it is all about!  That’s not what Christ came to do!  It is true, of course, that in His care the LORD blesses us not just with the forgiveness of sins, but that He regularly gives us His good gifts of food, of clothing, of shelter, of health and even of wealth.  It is true that peace and happiness is to be found in Him.  But these temporary blessings are not what we are living for!  These things are not what it is all about.  These things are not what we should be hungry for.

“Do not labor for the food which perishes” Jesus said, “but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on them.”

But do you understand that?  Do you see what Jesus is saying here?

The people who had come to Jesus in John 6 did not understand, for they were still thinking of some physical sort of bread.  In that sense the Jewish people in John 6 were no different to the Samaritan woman in John 4.  In John 4, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well He told her that

“whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst”

to which the Samaritan woman replied,

“Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”. (John 4:15)

And now here too, the Jewish people failed to understand what Christ was getting at.  So they said in John 6:28,

“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

To which Jesus said to them in verse 29,

“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

But the Jews were not prepared to do that.  Believe in Him?  Believe in Jesus?  See Him not just as a Rabbi, a teacher, not just as a great prophet, but as the Son of God, as the One the Father had sent, the One on whom the Father had set His seal?  They were not ready to do that.  “No” they said, “We need more proof.  We need to know that you are whom you claim to be.”

“What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You?  What work will You do?  Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  (John 6:30,31)

There was a tradition among the Jews that when the Messiah came He would cause manna to come from heaven just as it did in the days of Moses.  And so the reason the Jews wanted this particular sign was their way of asking Jesus, “Are are You greater than Moses?  Are You that prophet, the Messiah, whom Moses said would come?  Well, yesterday You gave us bread that came from earthly bread.  How about it?  How about now giving us bread from heaven?”

  But Jesus sets them straight.  It was not Moses who gave them bread from heaven, but God Himself.  But now God had come again and had sent His Son – not to give them manna but – to give them something greater than manna,

“the true bread from heaven.”

Hearing that, the Jews said in verse 34,

“Lord, give us this bread always”!

To which Jesus said,

“I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”  (John 6:35)

But they did not truly hunger for this bread, nor did they believe in Him.  Whereas the Samaritan Woman in John 4 believed in Jesus, she and the Samaritan villagers with her, the Jews in Capernaum did not.

But what about you?  What are you hungry for?  Do you know who Jesus is?  Do you receive Him for who He is and for what He has done?  Do you believe in Him?  Do you look to Him not in the first place for the bread that perishes but for the bread that endures to eternal life?  Is that what you really want?  Is that what you are hungry for? 

 

2. How will you be filled?

At this point, when Jesus declared Himself to be the bread of life, the Jews began to complain and some became hostile.  “Who does Jesus think He is?” they ask.  John 6:42,

“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

They could not accept what Jesus was saying because they could not accept who He said that He was.  Jesus sent down from heaven?  Jesus the Son of God?  Jesus having the seal of God the Father and appointed to be the bread of life?  How could this be?  How could He be anything other than the son of Joseph and Mary?  And of course he could not be – except for the fact of the Virgin Birth, except for the fact that He had been sent into the world by the Father, except for the fact that He really is the Great I AM, the LORD God Himself.

And so Jesus warned them in verse 49.

“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.”

They were dead not just because they had lived long ago and the bread that they ate – manna – was only meant for temporary, earthly sustenance, but they were dead because they too did not believe. But now Christ had come and He had come not to repeat the miracle of manna, nor even to feed 5000 men and leave them spiritually hungry.  Rather He had come and He performed His miracles to direct them to the bread that endures.  He directed them to Himself, declaring Himself to be the bread of life!  But the only way to be filled with that bread, the only way to be filled with Christ is to believe in Him, to receive Him as the Christ, the Son of God, to confess Him to be the Great I AM.  John 6:35,

“I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

John 6:40,

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise Him up at the last day.”

John 6:47,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

That’s the way to be filled.  To believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  To receive Him not for the bread that perishes, but to receive Him for the forgiveness of sins and for everlasting life.

But there is one other thing that the Lord Jesus – surprisingly – emphasises in John 6, and that is how those who receive Christ as the bread of life will come to Him.  And that is that we do not come of our own free will and our own accord, but we come because the Father draws us.  John 6:44,

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Although Christ freely and genuinely offers Himself as the bread of life, only those whom the Father draws to Himself will come to Him and believe and will therefore partake in the bread of life.  This is what we call the doctrine of divine election.  This is the biblical teaching that we do not come to God by our own free will, but that God changes our will and in that way compels us to come to faith in Jesus Christ.  The Lord Jesus is simply telling the truth here that left to our own devices no one would come to Him, but that nevertheless Christ’s sacrifice and death would not be in vain but rather many would come to Him.  Indeed all those chosen by the Father would believe in His name.  The Lord Jesus did not simply come to make it possible for people to be saved; He came to positively save all those whom the Father had given Him.  John 6:37,

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

Verse 39,

“This is the will of the father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”

And verse 65,

“Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

Those whom the Father gives, the Son welcomes.  But that would not include those who were speaking to Him in Capernaum.  They would not believe.  As the apostle John had already written in John 1:11,

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

And soon those who had come looking for Him, even those who said in verse 34 “Lord, give us this bread always” would turn away.  John 6:66,

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

But others would come, they would find in Christ the bread of life.  They would, spiritually, that is, eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, they would participate in His suffering, death and resurrection, and they would receive everlasting life.

But now what about you?  Where does that leave you?  At times the doctrine of election is mis-understood and the thought is that “If God is sovereign, if election is all His doing, if I can’t come to Jesus of my own free will and apart from Him, if I can’t take from the bread of life unless the Father compels me to do so, then there is no use trying.  And for some this is also a reason for despair.  Because what if I’m not elect?  What if God hasn’t chosen me after all?

But beloved in Christ, look carefully at how the Lord Jesus teaches us about who will come to Him.  First of all, He does not do so smugly, nor does He simply write the people of Capernaum off saying that they won’t accept Him since they weren’t of the elect to begin with.  No, He calls them, and it is a genuine call, to receive Him as the bread of life.  Further, He speaks not only of divine sovereignty but also of human responsibility.  For we are to “come” to Him (verse 35).  We are called not only to see the Son, but to believe in Him (verse 40).  And Christ warns the people of their unbelief.  And so we may never use the doctrine of election as an excuse to throw up our hands and say we can’t do anything anyway, its all up to God.  But not only that, we should never fear this doctrine nor despair that we may or may not be one of God’s elect.  Because what does Christ say in John 6:37?

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

He will by no means cast them out!  He will not do that.  If you seek after Him, if you come to Christ, He will receive you.

And so what are you going to do?

Jesus said in John 6:35,

“I am the bread of life.  He who comes Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Are you hungry?  Do you hunger and thirst for a relationship with God?  Do you hunger and thirst for everlasting life? 

“He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Will you come to Him?

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2018, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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