I Am the Bread of Life

John 6:34-36.

Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.

But I said unto you, That ye also have seen Me, and believe not.

I Am The Bread of Life — Lutheran Church of the Redeemer

Can you imagine being face to face with Jesus Himself, listening to His words, and just not “getting” it? That’s what was happening here. Maybe the concept He was teaching was just too novel. Maybe they were used to thinking in literal terms. It was hard for them to understand the spiritual, the heavenly implications of Jesus’ words.

I’ve read this passage over several times this week, and each time I have to pull myself up short in being critical of these people. After all, they were Old Testament Jews, and the Law had been interpreted and re-interpreted so much that the original was lost in the revisions. The Jews had become accustomed to the indisputable authority of the religious leaders, and the heavy burden of all the nit-picking rules that came not from God, but from the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests. Speaking from my own life experience, I know that people who get by paycheck to paycheck, IF they’re careful, have to be practical. You have to deal with what IS, not with what you WISH. And most of the people surrounding Him at this time were like that. They worked, they ate, they followed the Law, they slept. Repeat. They didn’t think often in terms of what lay beyond their every-day lives.

Jesus was offering them an eternal banquet, but so far all they really were looking for was free bread. Not just for that day, but “evermore.”

Instead, they were given these wonderful words of life: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” Remember the woman at the well in Samaria? Jesus had offered her the Water of Life. The difference was that she realized something very exciting was happening, and she ran and gathered up the townspeople so they could have the Water of Life, too.

Now, along with being the Living Water, He was saying He was also the Living Bread. Those who believed on Him would never be the same. Their lives would change. Their eyes would be opened to the Son of God, and they would never question again whether or not they would be in heaven someday. They could feast forever on the Living Bread, drink forever from the Living Water, and be assured of eternal salvation.

But they didn’t get it. Jesus said, “I said already that you have seen Me, but you don’t believe Me! I’m standing right here, you can reach out and touch Me, and you still don’t believe Who I am!”




Bread of God

John 6:31-33.

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

For the Bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Image result for our fathers did eat manna in the desert

It seems the people wanted to debate Jesus. They asked what the work of God was, and He said, “Believe on Me!” But that wasn’t what they wanted. They were looking for a sign; they wanted more miracles, and they wanted those miracles to be to their benefit.

So they went in the direction of telling Jesus how their forefathers had eaten manna in the wilderness, bread given to them by God through Moses.

Jesus took a moment to remind them that it was not Moses who provided the manna; it was God, the Father, Who took pity on the people and sent this this daily gift of food from heaven. The people arguing with Jesus seemed to want the same thing from Him: Daily bread from heaven. The feeding of the previous day whetted their appetite for more.

In His response, Jesus tried to turn their attention from physical food to spiritual food–the Bread of God, sent from heaven to sustain them for all eternity if they would accept it.

He is necessary for spiritual life, just as bread is necessary for physical life and health. He made it clear that He was that Bread of Life, the Bread of God, come down from heaven to give life to the world.

Give us a Sign!

John 6:28-30.

Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent.

They said therefore unto Him, What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? what dost Thou work?

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Remember, many of these people who are asking Jesus for a sign had enjoyed a miraculous picnic the previous day, filling their bellies with food that Jesus distributed to 5000 people from five small loaves and a couple of little fish.

And now they want a sign.

The passage in Mark 8:12-13 upon which this picture is based goes on to say that Jesus “sighed deeply in His spirit.”

The request for a sign reminds me of a small child who, having torn through a huge pile of Christmas gifts, looked up and said, “Is that all?”

But I’m ahead of myself. Going back to v. 28: The people asked Jesus what they needed to do in order to do God’s work. In yesterday’s passage, Jesus had told them not to labor for food that perishes, but to labor for eternal food. Now they used the same word–labor–in the sense of getting what they wanted from Him. “What (labor) shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” They thought if there were only some regimen to follow, some list of rules, some clear map, they could just follow it and they would have food; they would conquer Rome! Their minds were still on earthly things.

His answer was beautiful in its simplicity, and is just as applicable today as it was then: Believe on Me! Believe that the Father has sent Me!

And that’s when they asked Him for a sign. I doubt that Jesus was in the habit of rolling His eyes, but I wouldn’t blame Him if He had! He sighed deeply in His spirit. Not an adolescent, “nobody GETS me” sigh, but a sigh of deep understanding of the people He had come to redeem.

The people didn’t even pause to consider what He meant when He said, “Believe in Me.” They said, “What sign can you give us, that we may see and believe? What are Your works?”

I think they wanted something spectacular, like a bolt of lightning that would destroy Rome. I guess five loaves and two fish being made to feed 5000 people wasn’t spectacular enough.

But I wasn’t there, so I can’t be too quick to judge. Would I have been a part of that short-sighted crowd? I’d like to think not, but it’s entirely possible.

A Teachable Moment

John 6:25-27.

And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?

¶Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.

Image result for seek not for the meat which perisheth

First, notice that Jesus did not answer their question. He could have, but because He knew their hearts and motives, He chose instead to use this opportunity to drive home an important truth.

Years ago, I heard a message that described this conversation as a “teachable moment,” and we were encouraged to use similar situations as openings to teach our children truths about God. You know, kids are always asking questions. We give them age-appropriate answers, and the reward for patience with them when they’re small is that when they hit the teen years and then adulthood, we can enjoy deep, meaningful talk with them around the things of the Lord.

But back to the story.

In v. 59 of this same chapter, we learn that this conversation took place in the synagogue in Capernaum, at a Sabbath service. Also, in Matthew 15, we learn that Jewish leaders from Jerusalem had traveled to Capernaum to question Jesus, always intent on their determination to shut Him down.

Instead of answering their question as to when He arrived in Capernaum, He told them why they had come. They were looking for more of that miraculous bread and fish. They were seeking food that eventually spoils, and is no longer useful.

They wanted another miracle. Also, they were still looking for a sign that this Man was the valiant leader who would free them from Rome’s tyranny.

The incredible miracle they had already witnessed was not enough. They were looking for deliverance, not a relationship with Jesus. They had a crusade against Rome in mind, and Jesus was not there for that purpose. They wanted full bellies and freedom from Rome, and that is all for which they followed Him.

They were looking for meat (food) that is temporary and subject to spoiling; power against an enemy that is a passing thing.

I can’t help but compare the attitude of those people so long ago with what is happening worldwide today, and especially in America during the campaign season. Promises of free stuff will always attract followers. Free education, free medical care, free food, free phones, free, free, FREE! And yet, nothing is free. Someone, somewhere, is paying for all the free stuff and doing so in hope of buying the loyalty of the people. The irony, of course, is that it is the people who pay for all that free stuff, through the taxes that grow more burdensome as time marches on. This is not a new thing. Think of the history of Rome, whose fall was, in part, due to giving the people free lunch and free entertainment at the Colosseum. Bloody, horrifying entertainment. When people don’t have to work for their food, they have way too much free time on their hands. The most depraved side of human nature surfaces, demanding more and more thrills and chills.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Notice also that Jesus never, in this conversation, referred to Himself as the Messiah. Rather, He was “the Son of Man,” a term which was not in common usage then, and one that would stir their interest. Jesus was far more interested in bringing them everlasting spiritual food through the miracle of His birth, death, and resurrection than He was in providing perishable food that would satisfy only temporarily.

Finally, referring to Himself as the Son of Man, He said that the Father had sealed Him. What does that mean?

A seal was a mark of ownership, and a promise of good quality. The clear seal of the Father had come at Jesus’ baptism, when the voice of God said, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

Jesus is eternal life and satisfaction. We ought to seek Him for a relationship with Him, not just as a source of free stuff.

Pleasant Places

Several verses have been in my mind this week. One is John 14:1 and following:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.

It is too easy for us to allow doubt, fear, and worry to consume us when every form of media is blasting at us 24/7 to doubt, fear, and worry. That’s why so many people are clearing store shelves of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, tissue, and other products considered to be essential for the duration. When this present danger is a thing of the past, I would love to see a poll about how how many people have rooms filled with all the stuff they took off the shelves, leaving nothing for others who needed the same products.

By the way, a bar of soap will do as much as all the hand sanitizers to protect against the virus. Many hand sanitizers have a strong alcohol content, which I’m learning dries my skin and leaves me needing lotion. You can see a good article here.

The main verse I’ve been thinking about, though, is Psalm 16:6.

“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

I’ve loved this verse, the whole Psalm, really, for a very long time. And it became even more meaning years ago when I first heard this song:

Right now, it would be easy to fail to recognize whatever pleasant places you may have. Can you remember, though, a time when you wished you could just stay home for a while? Especially when we consider that there are those who MUST plan to work every day: Police officers, health and medical workers, fire departments, utility service people, and many others are not getting time off.

“But what about paying my bills?” Yes, I understand that is a deep concern. Remember that God is the Creator and Owner of everything, and He has always supplied our needs when we seek Him. So far, today’s needs don’t hold a candle to the years of the Great Depression. This, too, shall pass.

I’m not saying we should just sit back and meditate. We need to take whatever steps we can toward staying healthy. However, worry, doubt and fear do NOT lead to health. Rather, they increase blood pressure, poor immune systems, and an overdose of adrenaline and cortisol as well as headaches and poor sleep.

Why worry, when you can pray?

Seeking for Jesus

John 6:22-24.

The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone;

(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)

When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

Image result for John 6:24 images

I hope no one is offended by my use of a cartoon. I don’t usually do that, but this one so perfectly expressed what happens in today’s passage, and then in the next few verses.

Before I try to get underway here, I need to share with you that it has been an absolutely crazy morning here. I’ve been trying to start this post since 10 a.m., and there have been constant interruptions. I finally had a little talk with Jesus: “Lord, I can’t seem to get started this morning. Please put Your hand on all these interruptions and stop them long enough for me to write this post. Keep Satan away! I can only think there is something he doesn’t want me to post, but You are greater than he is. Thank You, Lord.”

Now. It would seem that at least some of the people who had experienced the miraculous meal the day before had camped overnight in the same location. As they began to stir the next morning, they realized that there was no sign of either Jesus or the disciples. Apparently the disciples took the only boat in sight as night descended. They also seem to have observed that Jesus had gone off by Himself, and had not left with the disciples.

Can you imagine the conversation?

“Hey! Did anyone see where those guys with Jesus went?”

“Nope, that was a huge storm last night. I hope they’re not all at the bottom of the sea!”

“Has anyone seen Jesus? I’m getting hungry again!”

“All you ever think of is your belly, Jonas. And no, Jesus has disappeared too. I guess we’re on our own.”

Note: None of that is scripture, okay? Just my imagination.

Parenthetically, John adds in v. 23 that other boats had come from across the sea from the area of Tiberius, on the western side, near to where the miraculous feeding had taken place on the eastern side. Notice that this insertion actually proves the storm was real because the disciples were “rowing against the wind,” rowing from the east into the west.

After making sure Jesus and the disciples were nowhere to be found, as many of the crowd as could find boats went across to Capernaum. When space ran out in the boats, anyone else who wanted to find Jesus must have gone by foot around the northern end of the Sea of Galilee.

Image result for Map of Sea of Galilee in time of Christ

Note that Tiberias is a little more than halfway down the western side of the sea. The feeding of the 5000 took place somewhere near Bethsaida, which wasn’t a terribly long walk, for people who were used to traveling by foot, from Capernaum. As closely as I can figure, it was about five miles.

We’d probably have called an Uber today, or at least found a camel to rent 🙂

Thank You, Lord, for giving me this uninterrupted time.

Question and Answer

In conversation with friends yesterday, the question came up about the post I wrote yesterday concerning Jesus walking on the water. As I wrote, I kept expecting to hear from Peter, who also walked on the water at Jesus’ invitation.

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Peter’s name is not mentioned in John’s account. So, is that a contradiction in the Bible?

No. It is simply an account written from the point of view of John, who presented Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior. Peter’s participation in this event is chronicled in other gospels, according to each writer’s point of view.

I did a little research on a forum in which this question was asked, and found a very good answer here:

 Singapore Moses Messenger of God, CEO in IT industry, Astronaut, Scientist

"Jesus walking on water" account is not included in Luke.

This episode is covered in Matthew 14:22-33 in Mark 6:45-52 and in John 6:16-21. However, the account of "Peter walking on the water" is not included in Mark, Luke and John.

Matthew was one among the 12 disciples of Jesus and he got the first hand information that he had seen Peter walking on water. Peter as a fisherman who knew how risky it was to attempt to walk on water. But he ventured because he knew who called him (Mt 14:24-29). Matthew wanted to add the following message to his audience. Even when we don't know who calls us, we run to the telephone the moment it rings! Many times it will be a wrong number call!

Mark on the other hand Jesus' step brother (Mt.13;55) who was a convert of Peter (1 Peter 5:13). 
He later worked with Paul(Col 4:10-11, 2 Tim 4:11; 1:24). He should have gotten the information Peter. He had NOT seen the episode of Peter walking on the water.

Matthew is written primarily for Jewish community where as Mark’s gospel meant for Gentiles (Roman believers). Mark wrote as a pastor to Christians who previously had heard and believed the Gospel (Romans 1:8).

In a nutshell, there are four different re-tellings from four different perspectives. Now granted, there are some differences. For instance, we might liken the account of Matthew and John to eye-witness accounts whereas Mark was the second-hand telling of the story (there is strong indication that Mark probably wrote his Gospel based off the teaching of Peter), and Luke would perhaps be better likened to a reporter who interviewed numerous people who had witnessed the crime and then compiled the data to give an accurate account. But the point remains the same. We have four testimonies that supply information about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. They provide varied details, much commonality, they never contradict, and they stand as a very reliable set of witnesses to the person of Jesus.

In God’s wisdom, He inspired four Gospels to be written by men with different vantage points and with knowledge of specific information that sometimes varied so that when the life of Jesus would be put on trial, as it so often is these days, we could show just how strong these testimonies really are about Jesus of Nazareth. (https://ebible.com/questions/14585)

I also consulted The Harmony of the Gospels, by Bradley Galambos, which gives essentially the same answer as the one above.

In my opinion, there is no contradiction here. No one is leaving Peter out for any other reason than the leading of the Holy Spirit on each writer, who was recording his version of the story of Jesus according to a specific purpose:

Matthew: Jesus as Israel’s Messiah; Son of David

Mark: Jesus as the servant of God; Son of Man

Luke: Jesus as the perfect man; Son of Adam

John: Jesus as God in the flesh; Son of God

And so we get the complete picture of Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, from the perspectives of four different men used by God, led by the Spirit, to increase our understanding and encourage our faith.