Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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What Are You Hungry For?

August 30th, 2009 by Vic

John 6

Chapter 1 beginnings; Chapter 2 wedding and temple cleansing; Chapter 3 Nicky D & Jonnie B; Chapter 4 Well; Chapter 5 porticos; Chapter 6 Fed by Bread.  Chapter 7 focuses on water and 8 looks at light.

Miracle #1 water to wine; #2 nobleman’s son; #3 cripple by pool; #4 feeding 5,000; #5 walking on water.

Miracles 4 & 5 should remind the Jews of the Exodus.  But we see them seeking with wrong motives (vv. 22–40), murmuring (vv. 41–51), arguing (vv. 52–59), and leaving (vv. 60–71).

The Jews were thinking of Moses.  They remembered he brought bread (manna) from heaven to feed the people (see Ex. 164-7).  They did not mention how God had demonstrated His power over the water of the Red Sea and Jordan River just as Jesus has demonstrated over the water of Galilee.  The Jews who received manna were a rebellious people.  All they had to do was stoop and pick it up.  They either picked it up or walked on it.  They had to humble themselves and receive the gift.

We will see that the bread that Jesus gives is not just for the Jews and not just for today.

Compare the manna to Jesus:

1. It came from heaven at night.  Jesus came to men in darkness.

2. It came like dew.  Jesus came born of the Spirit.

3. It was white and not defiled.

4. It was sweet to the taste.

5. It had to be received and eaten to be of benefit.

6. It was a gift from heaven.

7. There was enough for everyone.

8. If you did not pick it up, you walked on it.

9. It was food for the journey to the promised land.

10. The manna was not to be stored.  Jesus’ abundant bread was to be preserved.

The 12 baskets suggest the disciples are responsible for the preservation for future believers.  They each received enough to share.

Jesus said, “I am the living Bread,” (51) and in Matt. 4:4 He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

What do you want out of life?  What are you hungry for?  This whole chapter focuses on the fact that Jesus wants you to have a spiritual appetite.  Jesus wants you to be hungry for Him and what He has to give you.  Why do we work so hard for what does not satisfy?

6:1-4  Jesus had been healing a lot of sick.  A multitude was following Him.  He is about to feed all of them.  Entertainment and food seem to make people happy.  But life is more than physical.

It looked like Jesus may have had a problem with a multitude of hungry people.  Jesus was not concerned about feeding them physically, but doing it in a way that made them spiritually hungry.

6:5-13  We have the bread multiplied and the fragments gathered.  Jesus gives thanks for what He has and God made it go farther.

When Jesus asked the disciples what they could do, one solution was to try to raise the money.  We think that money is the answer to every need.  In Mark’s account of this miracle, the disciples suggest that they send the people home.  Just get rid of the problem.  Andrew pointed out some more facts, but was not sure what the solution would be.

It is interesting that proper Romans would always have some food left over after a meal to indicate more than adequate provision was available.

Jesus distributed to the 5,000 “as much as they wanted.”  How much of Jesus’ bread do you want?  You can have as much as you want.  You cannot deplete the supply.  Jesus can love you with all His heart and still love me.

6:15 The people were about to force their will on Jesus and the disciples.

According to Matt. 14:22 and Mark 6:45 Jesus compelled the disciples to get into the boat because He knew they were in danger.  The crowd was now aroused and there was a movement to make Him King. Of course, some of the disciples would have rejoiced at the opportunity to become famous and powerful!  Judas would have become treasurer of the kingdom, and perhaps Peter would have been named prime minister!  But this was not in the plan of God, and Jesus broke up the meeting immediately.

Kings rule, they are not ruled by their people. The very intent of the crowds to force Jesus to become king shows how weak their allegiance was to Him.  They wanted Him to fit their expectations.  They wanted to use Him for their purposes.  Why do we seek Jesus?

6:16 Jesus came walking on the water.  The disciples had experienced great joy in being part of a thrilling miracle and a big rally to crown Jesus. Now just a couple hours later they are in the will of God and facing a storm.  Jesus cares and comes along side to demonstrate the power of God over the waters.  They are struck with fear.

John wants us to understand that Jesus is the “I am” of God (35).  He wants to feed you real bread and still your storms and help you get to shore.

What does “I am” mean?  Jesus is not saying, “I was” or “I will be”.  He says “I am”.  In the OT, God was the “I Am” when he was revealing himself to someone.

“I am” can be used in several different ways.  a) It can be used to answer the question, “Who are you?”  b) It is used to answer the question, “What are you?”  c) It is used here to answer the question, “Why are you here?” or “Who’s responsible?”  Mom comes home and finds a mess.  She asks, “Who’s responsible for this?”  The truthful reply is, “I am.”  The Jews were asking, “Who is the one that God will reveal as the Messiah?”  Who is responsible for the situation we are in?”  Jesus comes walking on the water and says, “I am.”  And for the Jews this is a claim to be God.

Jesus also says, “I am the Bread of heaven…  the bread of life…  the water of life (7:37, the light of the world (8:12), the door (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (11:25),  the way, truth and life (14:6), the true vine (15:1).  He never says, I am a man or I am a Jew or I am a carpenter, teacher, preacher, etc.  But He does say, “I am.”

Bread meant more to the Jews than it does to us.  They did not have all the bread substitutes that we have.  Bread was the difference between life and death.  You worked for bread so you and your family could live.  When God provided bread in the wilderness, bread meant life.  He wanted them to learn that He was the giver and sustainer of life.  When Jesus fed the 5,000 there was food left over.  God’s provision was abundant.  When God gives you more than you need, do you waste it, let it lay on the ground to rot, or do you put it in a basket to share with others.  The Torah was called the bread of life.  Wisdom was called bread.  Jews expected the Messiah to re-institute regular manna.

Let me tell you a little story.  50 years ago grandpa planted some trees in what used to be a berry patch about 1/4 mile from our house.  They have grown so that the bottom limbs on some were 4-6 inches in diameter.  A few years ago I trimmed those limbs up as high as I could reach with a 24’ ladder.  I cut the big limbs into firewood and threw them in a big pile. A couple months later I decided to bring the wood up and put it in my basement for winter.  That wood was mine.  I had worked for it.  I had plans for it.  But God gave permission for a skunk to move in and use it for a home.  My dog found out you should not put your nose in someone else’s home without permission.

I was like the Jews in chapter 6.  The Jews assumed the Scriptures were theirs.  They cut and piled the wood.  They inherited the trees from Moses.  They had invested a lot of time interpreting them.  The way to the kingdom of God was only through the Jewish culture.  They protected their Scripture.  They assumed their understanding of the Scripture was the true understanding.  But God sent someone into their woodpile to remind them that everything we have is the Lords.  I belong to the Lord.  In this chapter we see that the Jews were infuriated with Jesus. He was causing a stink in their woodpile.  What John wants you to see is Jesus.  He is the “I am”.  He is the bread and he wants you to be hungry for Him.  The Jews failed to see the unseen that was real, but they could smell it.

6:25 “Rabbi, how did you get here?”  They did not seek Him to worship, but to have more information.  Their Messianic expectations were being scrambled and they wanted to fit all the pieces together.  They were trying to figure out how to get the skink out of their woodpile.

6:29 The work of God is to keep on believing in Jesus.

6:30 They asked Jesus for His credentials.

6:32 Both contrast and continuation are found here.  They misunderstand (34) and ask for bread from heaven again and again.

6:40 Those who believe have eternal life.  The murmuring of the Jews (41) echoes the murmuring motif of the Exodus story.  The difference between Moses and Jesus is their origins.

6:48 “I am the Bread of Life.”  We talk about devouring a book, or drinking in a lecture, or swallowing a story, or chewing over some information.  Maybe we can’t stomach it or maybe we eat it up.  Some people can bite off your head with words while we digest the idea.

6:53 It is a requirement to eat His flesh and drink His blood.  How can a man give his flesh to eat?  That is a gross thought to us and it was repulsive to the Jews.  Moses had commanded them not to eat any blood, but the blood made atonement for sin.  New covenants were initiated with blood.  The flesh profits nothing (63).

This was an attention-getting metaphor.  The words “eat” and “drink” denote the operation of the mind in receiving and benefitting from the teaching.  The words are Spirit and life (63).  Flesh and blood emphasizes the life of Jesus.  Jesus will provide a food for the life of the world.  That food is His life.

Jesus no longer says “believe in,” but “eat.”  The expressions are parallel.  During this time of the Passover Feast Jesus announces there is another kind of bread from heaven that perfects, fulfills, and transcends the traditional bread of the Jewish Passover.

The fathers who ate manna were dead.  Something better has come.

Jesus does not offer donuts, pavlova, Tim Tams, Twinkies, and ice cream.  He offers life, abundant eternal life.

6:60 Some disciples leave Him and the rest are warned that failure is always possible, even among those who believe (67).  No matter how much has been revealed, some will not believe.  It is not information that makes a disciple.

6:69 This is the first time in the gospel that someone expressed faith in Jesus for the right reason: His origins.

1.  Why did He expect the Jews to be hungry for spiritual food?  They had the Scriptures.  They had the story.  They had the Son.  Jesus was walking among them.  John the Baptist had identified Jesus as the Lamb of God.  They had seen the signs.  Maybe we should be hungry too?

2.  Why were they not hungry?  How do we kill the hunger for God in our children?  Selfishness, traditions, expectations.

Jesus wants us to hunger for truth, for Him, for righteousness.  Is something suppressing our appetite?  We have the Scriptures, the story, the Son, the signs just like the Jews.

3.  How do we improve our spiritual appetite?

a.  6:29-30  Come and believe.  Belief in God is a choice.  You will never have enough evidence to convince you that God exists.  You must choose to believe then you will see.  (Love is also a choice.)

Jesus illustrated coming and believing (6:35) by speaking about eating and drinking.  Coming and believing is like eating and drinking.

c.  6:36  Open your eyes and expect God to be working in your life.  As you walk with the Lord, in the light of his Word, you will see more and more of the glory He is shedding on your way.

d. 6:43  Stop grumbling among yourselves.  Consider trusting God.  Do you really believe that God is working all things together for good with those who trust Him?  Maybe God wants you to have a good attitude in the storms, even though you are treated unjustly, even though you were absolutely right, even though you are crucified.  Maybe he wants you to be like Jesus.

e.  6:47-51 Keep believing.  Eat for life.  The real food is Jesus.  The bread is Jesus’ flesh (not his body) (6:51).  His flesh is real food (55).  The Word became flesh.  We receive life from him and through him as we believe.  It is not the flesh, but the Spirit (63).  His words are your food if you believe.  Chew over it a little.  It is significant that the word flesh is never used in any of the reports of the Lord’s Supper.  Only the word body is used at the Lord’s Supper.  There’s probably a reason for that distinction.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Get off the spiritual Twinkie and donut diet.  Eat something that gives spiritual life.

The return of Jesus is described as an invitation to dinner.  Come and dine.  Dinner’s on the table.

6:35  Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry.”  Just like the manna in the wilderness, God has made available everything you need for your pilgrimage.  Receive the gift of God, the bread of life.  Eat.  Your life depends on it.  And as often as you eat or drink give thanks and remember.

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