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Sunday, September 2, 2018

posted Sep 2, 2018, 6:13 PM by Site Administrator

 

I AM THE LIVING BREAD

 

John 6:41-71

Key Verse 6:51

 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

 

First, "He who believes has everlasting life" (41-47). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus proclaiming that he is the bread of life. The crowd was not willing to accept Jesus as the one sent by God unless he satisfied their desire, that is, food. But Jesus would not compromise with them even if he had to lose them all, because it was not God’s will for him to make them believe by giving them food. Jesus said to them, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." Instead, he gave them his promise, saying, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." What was the crowd’s response? Look at verses 41 and 42. They grumbled, saying, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?" Previously, when they ate the free meal of barley loaves and fish and had their fill, they said, "Surely, this man is the Prophet," and they tried to make him king even by force. But now only because Jesus did not give them food any longer, they grumbled, disqualifying Jesus’ statement about his origin.

 

At this, Jesus said to them, "Stop grumbling among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." Jesus did not despair despite their unrepentant hearts because he knew that no one could come to him unless the Father drew him. He simply understood that they were not sent by God. Instead, he was looking for those who were prepared by God, because they would accept him. Unlike the crowd in the passage, these are the people who renounce their own desires and accept Jesus' teaching. Here, we should stop a moment and think about people who are prepared and sent by God. What kind of people are they? Look atverse 45. Let's read this verse together:

 

"It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me."

 

They are the people taught by God, and Jesus explains what it means to be taught by God in two ways – "listening to the Father" and "learning from Him." The first condition to be taught by God is to listen to Him. "Listening to the Father" is different from just hearing God's words. Listening to the Father means "paying attention to what the Father says, accepting his teaching and doing it." It's about acceptance and obedience. The expression, "Learning from the Father" shows these people's attitude very well. When they hear God's message, they accept it, willing to give up their own ideas and desires. They are the ones who learn from God continually. When people have this kind of attitude toward God and his teaching, they are taught by God. These people come to Jesus and live as his disciples. The crowd in the passage however, were not willing to accept his teachingbecause they were not willing to let go of their own desires for food; then, they could not learn from him, even after having Bible studies with him. As a result, even if they followed Jesus for a while, eventually, they would go away. We all want to come to Jesus. Then, we must be taught by God. How can we be taught by God? We must listen to the Father and learn from him. Instead of insisting our own ideas and desires, we must pay attention to what He says and accept his teaching, by living according to his will and purpose. At that time, we can follow Jesus as his disciples. 

 

Look at verses 46 and 47. Jesus is the only person who saw the Father, because he was from the Father. Only he knows about God, about how the heavenly life goes, and how we can go to the heaven. As the only person who has seen the Father, as the only person who knows the Father really, what does he say? What news does he bring to the human world? In verse 47, Jesus declares, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."

 

This is good news! The topic Jesus issues is about everlasting life. What is "everlasting life"? It is the life that lasts forever. This is what all mankind look for. We don't need to mention about the first Chinese Emperor who looked for a special herb to have everlasting life. It is the hope and dream for everyone on earth. No one wants to die; no one wants to decay in the grave; no one wants to be extinguished of his own existence. The most terrible tragedy our father, Adam, caused by sinning against God is that he brought death into the world and into our lives. Because of death, people are fearful for their health problem. Because of death, parents worry about their children when they go outside. The older people grow, the sadder they become because they have lost many of their beloved ones to death, and they cannot see them any longer. In order to prepare ourselves for the future funeral ceremony, our bodies already start collapsing causing a lot of health problems such as arthritis, lower-back pain, and all kinds of diseases. Surely, all men are under the shadow of death; all men are under the power of death.

 

But as the only person who has seen the Father, Jesus brings to us good news from God. He proclaims, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." God sent Jesus, His Son to this dying world, so that all men might have everlasting life by just believing. No one knew about this good intention of God, this secret design of God, but only Jesus, because he has seen the Father, and he is from the Father. When people have this everlasting life, they no longer worry about their future; they no longer live in fear; they no longer suffer from mental diseases.Instead, they put their hope in the kingdom of God and live as holy pilgrims here on earth. When they have everlasting life, the things of the world suddenly look very small, and their desires change to love God and develop fellowship with Jesus Christ, their Lord. This is the good news all mankind have been waiting and looking for throughout human history. But you must believe.We thank Jesus for bringing to us this good news, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."

 

But, wait a minute! The only condition for us to have everlasting life is to believe. But what does it mean to believe? All the Jews believed that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning. They attended worship service every Sabbath. Yet, in Jesus' eyes, they did not have everlasting life. The crowd in the passage said, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come in to the world." They had complete confidence that Jesus is the Promised Messiah. Yet, to these people, Jesus proclaimed, "He who believes has everlasting life." In his eyes, they did not believe, even if they said, "Jesus, you are the Christ." What does it mean to believe? It meant for the people in the passage that they would believe Jesus' teaching that he is the bread of life that came down from heaven and that when they ate him, they would never go hungry and never be thirsty. By believing Jesus' teaching, they would renounce their own desire for bread, and turn to him and pursue him. Believing in Jesus is not conceptual; it is not religious. Rather, it is very real and practical in your life. If anyone hears Jesus' message, accepts it and turns to him, that person has everlasting life. If you believe that Jesus is the bread of life that gives you life, zoe, you come to him, instead of coming to other bread. That's the expression of your belief in him. This real faith is what you need to have, not just having some Bible knowledge or doing some religious things. Notice here when that person has everlasting life - not when he goes to heaven after death, but the moment when he believes, here on earth, even now! This is what the Bible talks about.

 

Second, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you" (48-55). Look at verses 48 through 51. Let’s read these verses together:

 

48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

 

As we studied in the previous passage, God’s original plan was that through his provision of heavenly bread, people might live forever. But strangely, even though the Israelites ate themanna that came down from heaven for forty long years, they all died instead of having everlasting life. Why? It was because that bread, called manna, was not the real one, but fake one, a shadow of the real one to come. The real bread that came down from heaven is Jesus Christ. Jesus says, "I am the living bread who came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is our Savior who saves us from death. He is the Perfector of our life, and of this world.

 

Jesus says in verse 51, "This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." This statement of Jesus shows us how he could give everlasting life to everyone who believes, that is, through his death on the cross for our sinsJesus did this much for us; he really loves us. The crowd however, were only confused, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" How did Jesus respond? Let’s read verse 53 together:

 

53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 

 

Here, Jesus shows us how we can have life, zoe, saying, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." By saying "my flesh" and "my blood," Jesus is talking about his death on the cross. Jesus suffered so much that his body was mutilated, and he shed his life-blood and died - all these were for the forgiveness of those who come to him. That's what Jesus did so that  those who come to him can have life in him. And now Jesus shows us how we can get the benefits of his sacrifice for us on the cross - forgiveness and eternal life: We must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is the only way we can have life in Jesus. Eating and drinking is very real and practical. You can see a cup of coffee at Starbucks and say, "Oh, that's Cappuccino." But recognizing it and saying, "It is cappuccino," is different from drinking it. You see Rib Eye steakWhen will you be happy and satisfied? Not when you recognize it as Rib Eye steak, but when you practically grab and eat it. The people in the passage had Bible study with Jesus and followed him; they had confidence that Jesus was the Christ and they confessed it, yet they had no life, no zoe in them. Why? Because they had not eaten his flesh and drink his blood.  

 

What does it mean to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Let's say, Jesus brings his suffering-filled flesh to you and asks you to eat it, saying that he suffered so much to pay the price of your sins. Let's say, Jesus brings you a cup of his blood and asks you to drink, saying that he was sacrificed on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. At that time, who eat his flesh and drink his blood? No one wants to eat such a suffering-filled flesh, and no one wants to drink someone's blood. But those who truly accept what Jesus did for them, those who truly believe and accept what God has done for them through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, eat his flesh and drink his blood. The action of eating his suffering-filled flesh and grabbing the cup and drinking his blood is an expression of your acceptance of what Jesus did for you, how much he suffered for you, how much he sacrificed for you. When you truly accept what he did for you, how much he suffered for you, you come to truly appreciate his love and sacrifice you; there come deep thanks, and at the same time, you come to recognize how terrible your sin is, and thereby, you never want to live in that way any longer. There comes true repentance, and true appreciation, all mixed with many tears. There, your sins are washed away from your heart - they lose their grip on you, and you are freed from your sins; there your old person who lived in sin is dead, and now a new person that is alive to God lives - that's the new life in Jesus Christ; that's the beginning of eternal life, zoe in Jesus Christ. The real thing in our Christian life is not about living a religious life; it is not about having a lot of Bible knowledge either; instead, it is about having real life as God originally designed, by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Accept what Jesus did for you on the cross; appreciate truly what he did for you, how much he suffered for you, and you will know how much he loves you, and how you must live your life. This is the whole essence of Christianity.

 

The people in the passage could not be real to God, as long as they pursued something else than Jesus. Jesus wrestled with them to turn their interest from bread to himself. It was his wholehearted struggle for them. This is Jesus' struggle for us. Let's not be sidetracked in our Christian life. Let's renounce all our own secret desires for money or marriage or positions or titles. Only then, we can be real to God and truly accept and appreciate what Jesus did for us. Let's seek Jesus all the more so that we can enjoy that truly fulfilling life

 

Look at verse 54. Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Here notice that Jesus makes a distinction between having eternal life and participating in the resurrection that will happen atthe last day. Having eternal life by eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood is present - Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." That's what happens to everyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood. And Jesus will, later, at the last day, raise them up with a new resurrection body - they will participate in the next life in the kingdom of God. Many people think that they will have eternal life when they die. But it does not go that way. If you don't have eternal life here, you will not have it in the resurrection. If you don't truly accept and appreciate what Jesus did for you, only because of some silly desires you dream of, Jesus will not consider you so highly and you will not participate in the resurrection. We must secure eternal life while we are here on earth, instead of just being content with our religious life or our Bible knowledge. We must believe in Jesus by accepting his teaching and letting go of our own desires and plans. Then, Jesus will raise us up at the last day.

 

Look at verse 55. Let's read this verse together:

 

55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 

 

Here, Jesus explains why those who eat his flesh and drink his blood have eternal life. Simply, it is because his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. Real food is the food that is completely nutritious, making those who eat it grow healthy and sound. Real drink is the drink that quenches thirst really completely. So, instead of spending our time and energy on other things, we must make all possible efforts to eat this real food and drink this real drink. Meditate on what Jesus did for you, how much he suffered for you, and accept his atoning sacrifice for you. When you truly accept and appreciate what he did for you, there you find God's intense love for you that satisfies your soul; there you find the true meaning and purpose of your life; you know what to do and how to live your life; and by seeing all these, you can dedicate yourself to God really, by loving him and serving his purpose. As you live that way, you become so healthy and sound in understanding and in character, and your life is so fulfilling and meaningful. Man does not live on bread alone that comes from the ground, but on the true bread that came down from heaven. His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink for your soul, for your life.

 

Be careful that you will not pursue or eat fake foods or even poisonous foods. Be careful that you will not drink poisonous drink either. When Levi the tax collector ate the food of success and money, he was almost killed, because it was poisonous food. When the Samaritan woman pursued happiness and fulfillment in marriage, she later found that it was fake food that left her empty; it was poisonous drink that left her so miserable, shameful and dirty; she was almost destroyed. Stop pursuing these things. Don't reject Jesus only because of these things. Today, accept Jesus' teaching - that is the expression of your faith in him. Pursue his flesh and drink his blood, and you will have eternal life. Then, you will see that you don't need any other things, but Jesus.

 

Third, "So the one who feeds on me will live because of me" (56-59). Look at verses 56 and 57. Let's read these verses together:

 

56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

 

Now Jesus shows us what happens to those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. They do not want to leave Jesus at all; they are happy with Jesus and want to be with him, so they remain in him, doing everything in his will and purpose - in choosing their major, in choosing their career path, in their marriage matter, in everything. As they remain in him in everything they do, they come to develop the same perspectives, same desires and same value system with Jesus forming unity with him. Then, as they struggle to remain in Jesus, Jesus also remains in them, revealing himself to them and helping them. Thus, they come to have life together with Jesus, experiencing him and coming to know him more and more. This is their changed life. And this is what happens to everyone who eats his flesh and drink his blood.

 

But that's not all. Jesus says, "Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me." Here, the expression, "I live because of the Father," shows Jesus' hot love for the Father and how he enjoyed his Father's love very well. Because he loved the Father so much, and thereby, the Father became the most important figure to him, the Father became the meaning and purpose of his life; the Father was the source of his strength, courage and inspiration. When the Word that was with God in the beginning became a human and served God's will as a human in the world, there were many difficulties. Hunger and thirst was a norm; there was people's rejection - even his own family members did not understand him; there was jealousy, hatred, and even many people wanted to kill him; even his disciples did not understand him. Often, people considered him as a clown in the circus and asked him to perform more miracles to amuse them, instead of trying to teach them. It was really difficult. But despite all such challenges, Jesus had no problem because the Father was with him. Whenever he was discouraged, he went to God in prayer, then, through fellowship with the Father, he was refreshed in spirit, he gained new strength to go and do God's work. Even if no one understood him, Jesus was not lonely; even if the whole world was against him, he had no problem, because he knew that the Father was with him. At the last supper, right before his arrest, Jesus said to his disciples, "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." (Jn 16:32) Jesus enjoyed that kind of beautiful love relationship with God; the Father was everything to him.

 

Now Jesus says, "Just as I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me." Those who eat his flesh and drink his blood experience his love deeply, and thereby, they love Jesus so much; Jesus becomes everything to them - the meaning and purpose of their existence, the source of joy and happiness, the source of inspiration, strengthen and comfort. They live because of Jesus. We experience many difficulties in living as Jesus' disciples - rejection after rejection, ridicule, persecution, sometimes, betrayals, terrible injustice; sometimes, we are so discouraged; sometimes, we are so sorrowful; sometimes, we reach our limit and we say, 'I cannot go any longer.' But then, as we come to Jesus in prayer, as we pour out all our agonies on him, as we cry and cry, he gently touches our hearts, saying, "I know you." Or, sometimes, we are reminded of how much Jesus suffered from those things all for our sake. Then, we are completely thankful that we are found in him; we become so thankful that He has given us a chance to experience him in the same situation. There, we are completely renewed in spirit, ready to go and do God's work more wholeheartedly than before. Brother and sisters! We live because of Jesus! We thank God for revealing Jesus to us; we thank God for giving us Jesus - he is the Dearest of all, whom we love so much. With him, suddenly our life becomes so colorful - everything we do carries meaning and purpose, and we are so happy to have life together with him. But the minute we see our life without Jesus, suddenly it becomes so grey and nothing carries any meaning and purpose; without him, there is no reason for us to exist on earth any longer. He is the Lilly in the mountain; he is theRose of Sharon, so beautiful, and we love him so much. Praise Jesus! He is everything to us! Now because of him, we live! Eat his flesh and drink his blood, and this is what will happen to you!

Fourth, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (60-71). Look at verse 6060On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" When we think about what they said, we can see that they understood Jesus' message, but to them, it was a hard teaching, difficult to accept. Of course, it was a hard teaching. What Jesus said was that, instead of seeking bread in him, they must seek him so that they would have everlasting life. Giving up what seemed the most important and urgent thing to seek Jesus was a hard teaching. But this is what Jesus teaches us. No one can live as Christians with casual attitude. The way of Christians is to give up everything so that we can seek Jesus really. Such people enjoy eternal life in Jesus. 

 

Look at verses 61 through 63. Let's read these verses together:

 

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 

 

Even though his disciples were grumbling about his teaching, saying, it was a hard teaching, Jesus did not back out. Instead, he challenged them, saying, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!" In human eyes, with the worldly perspectives, giving up such an important matter of bread for the sake of seeking Jesus seems hard. But when we think about it in view of heaven, in view of eternal kingdom of God, it is such a small matter. In view of eternity we are going to enjoy in the kingdom of God, giving up our security matter, or license or comfortable life is nothing. We must not see all these with the worldly perspectives, but with heavenly perspectives, in view of eternity in the kingdom of heaven. Then, we can freely give up what seems very important to us such as a career matter, a marriage matter, or a family matter, and follow Jesus wherever he leads us. 

 

Jesus says, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." What Jesus talked about was spirit and life - they are really essential, truly important and valuable things. What the crowd thought about was flesh and food, which counted for nothing - it had no value at all. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. Between life and nothing, what should you choose? Of course, you must choose life. The crowd had to renounce their own desire and accept Jesus' teaching so that they might have life.But they didn't. Instead, according to verse 66 many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Between eternal life and nothing, they chose nothing! What dummies they were! But this is what so many people do even today. By the way, they were not unbelievers; their title was "disciples." They were the ones who enjoyed his Bible study so long, followed Jesus, even running around the Sea of Galilee on foot while Jesus went to the other side of the Sea by boat; they were the ones who even ate the heavenly bread, experiencing Jesus' power and grace. Yet, how come they turned back and no longer followed him? It was because now they saw that, eventually, they would not get what they had desired; they realized that Jesus would not give them what they wanted no matter what; instead, they saw that, in order to follow Jesus, they had to give up what they had really desired and pursued, and that's not what they wanted. So, knowing this end result, they had no reason to follow Jesus any longer. This is why many people leave God's calling. People study the Bible, and even grow up in Jesus to some extent. Then, eventually, they see that they cannot get what they have desired; instead, they see that they have to lose them to seek Jesus really. But this is not what they want. So, they make excuse and no longer follow him. Eventually, it's about what you really desire - eternal things, or things in this life.

 

Yet, the 12 disciples were different; they stayed on, except Judas who would later leave and betray Jesus. Among 5,000 people who experienced Jesus’ grace, none remained, and even many of them were called, "disciples." But Jesus did not try to hold them back or plead with them to remain. Instead, when all people fell away, when all half-committed disciples were gone, he turned his eyes to the remnant, the Twelve, and challenged them to make their decision clear, saying, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" What was their answer? Look at verses 68 and 69. Let's read these verses together:

 

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

 

Peter could not leave Jesus because he experienced and found that Jesus' words gave him true meaning, purpose and fulfillment. As he followed Jesus, he found that the word of God Jesus preached was the source of joy, delight and happiness to him. And there was no one else who could give him such words of eternal life, but Jesus alone. He thought about going to other synagogues - so boring. He thought about going to the temple worship service in Jerusalem - so dead. So, he would not leave Jesus at all. We are a small church; our disciples do not have any degree in theology, any title or position people desire. There are many fancy churches with great and fun programs and benefits. But our students keep coming to us for Bible study. Why? It is only because they have tasted greatness of the word of God through us. Peter's confession is our confession too: To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

 

In this passage, we learn that Jesus is the living bread that gives life to the world. Jesus invites us, saying, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day." "My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink."Now between your own desires and Jesus, which one do you choose? 

 

One Word: Jesus Is The Living Bread

 

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