The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
What kind of "bread" are you seeking?
John(82) (Part of the Believe(74) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on September 22, 2019 (Sunday Morning(282))
The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
There are all kinds of videos and posts on the internet about how McDonald’s hamburgers don’t rot. It’s seems as though their hamburgers will last forever, but there is a simple explanation that the following video will explain.
Just hang in there with me and you’ll understand why I showed you this video this morning
I studied Business Management and Economics in college
For one of my Economics classes, I wrote a paper about planned obsolescence
Here is the definition of planned obsolescence – “a policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of nondurable materials.”
Basically companies make products that they know will not last, or use colors and designs that will eventually not be trending, so that we have to replace them
This guarantees a continual demand from consumers, which in turn guarantees future sales, and the growth of a company
How many of us have had to recently replace a washer, dryer, dishwasher, stove, microwave, television, computer, etc.
Our first step is usually trying to have the appliance repaired, but then realizing it’s cheaper to just replace it because the replacement parts are expensive
We all understand the idea of planned obsolescence because we have experienced it
Jesus is talking with the crowd in the Capernaum synagogue (John 6:59). They have just experienced the miraculous feeding of over 5,000 people and Jesus wants them to understand that they are seeking Him for the wrong reasons. They want to continue to receive free food from Him, but He wants them to believe in Him. The crowd is seeking food that will spoil, but Jesus is offering them food that will lead to eternal life. They are seeking the temporal and Jesus is offering the eternal. John wants us to answer this question today . . .
BIG IDEA – What kind of “bread” are you seeking?
Are we seeking temporal bread that will spoil or eternal bread that leads to eternal life.
Even though McDonald’s hamburgers and other thin-made hamburgers don’t rot for lack of moisture, I would still be hesitant to eat one after it has set out for years. It’s still a temporal food source that will not last once it’s eaten.
GOD (John 6:22-40)
Seeking Jesus (vv. 22-24)
Jesus has just fed the 5,000 on the north eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in what is the modern day Golan Heights
He compelled the disciples to get in their boat and cross back over the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum
He dismissed the crowd and then went up on the mountainside to pray
Jesus sees the disciples struggling against the oars because of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, and He walks on the water to be with them
John picks up the story line again on the north eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee
Night has passed and some of the crowd had remained where the miraculous food distribution had taken place
The wording lets us know that some of the crowd probably returned to their homes nearby
The remaining crowd realized that the disciples had taken the only boat that had been on the shore, and that Jesus was not with His disciples on the boat
More boats arrive
While the crowd is pondering everything and probably looking for Jesus, some boats from Tiberias arrive at the place where Jesus had miraculously fed the 5,000
Tiberius would have been south of Capernaum on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee
We’re not told why these boats arrived the next morning
Perhaps they had heard about Jesus and were seeking Him also
Perhaps it was the sovereignty of God to allow the remaining crowd to cross over to Capernaum
When the crowd realizes that Jesus and His disciples are not with them on the north eastern shoreline, they get in the boats and cross over the Capernaum
They are searching for Jesus and knew that Capernaum was the hometown of several of His disciples (perhaps they also knew that Capernaum was His home base for ministry while in Galilee)
Their search for Jesus doesn’t take long, at least in our text
True Motives (vv. 25-34)
We don’t actually know how long it took the crowd to find Jesus
My guess is that another crowd was already forming because Jesus was teaching, so it wasn’t hard to find Him
We know from John 6:59 that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum
His “Bread of Life” discourse may have started out in the open, but it was completed in the synagogue
Full of questions
We’ll see in these next ten verses that the crowd is full of questions for Jesus
Jesus doesn’t always answer their direct question, because He knows their hearts and what they are truly asking
Their questions also reveal where their focus is and what they were taught about entering the kingdom of God
“When did you get here?”
Perhaps the question they wanted to ask, but were too afraid to ask is, “How did you get here?”
They knew He hadn’t gotten in the boat with His disciples
They also knew there weren’t any other boats for Him to use
“The question they ask means both when did you get here? (NIV) and ‘How long have you been here?’” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 283]
The crowd is trying to clear up the confusion they have about how Jesus got to Capernaum ahead of them
They have seen Jesus do the miraculous, but they still don’t understand who He is
Jesus’ answer gets to the true motive behind why they were seeking Him
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus knows our heart, because He is all-knowing (omniscient).
Jesus knew the reason why the crowd was looking for Him
They weren’t seeking Him for spiritual reasons at all, but rather for physical reasons
They wanted another free lunch
The miraculous signs were very important, because they were designed to point people to Jesus
But, the crowd had missed it
“The meaning of ‘sign’ in this Gospel is that it points beyond the physical, concrete reality to the reality of revelation. It provides insight into who Jesus is.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 262]
Jesus knows the reason why you and I seek Him
What kind of “bread” are you seeking?
He knows what kind of discipleship we are pursuing, with Him
Is it a discipleship of the physical or the spiritual?
Every person makes sure that their physical hunger is taken care of, which is especially evident in our American culture (myself included)
“Speaker Mike Benson tells how one night, as his family was finishing dinner, his eight-year-old daughter left six green beans on her plate. She normally ate her veggies, and Mike did not usually allow this sort of thing to bother him, but this night he was irked and said to her, ‘Eat your green beans.’
She replied, ‘Dad, I'm full to the top.’
‘You won't pop,’ he responded.
‘Yes, I will pop!’ she said.
‘Risk it!’ he said. ‘It will be okay.’
‘Dad, I could not eat another bite.’
Mike knew that night they were having her favorite dessert, pumpkin pie squares. So he asked, ‘How would you like a double helping of pumpkin pie squares with two dollops of whipped cream on top?’
‘That sounds great!’ she responded as she pushed her plate back, ready for dessert.
‘How can you have room for a double helping of pumpkin pie squares with two dollops of whipped cream, and not have room for six measly green beans?’
She stood up tall out of her chair and pointing to her belly said, ‘This is my vegetable stomach. This is my meat stomach. They are both full. Here is my dessert stomach. It is empty. I am ready for dessert!’
What we eat reveals what we hunger for.”
Phillip Gunter, pastor of Crossroads Chapel, Round Rock, Texas
We do whatever it takes to satisfy our hunger
“Compare that to how much time and energy and effort we put into making sure our spiritual hunger is met. Do we even think about it? Do we give any thought to what sustains our spiritual lives, what nourishes our souls? Even when we attend church, are we thinking about anything other than what we want and what we like?” [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 151]
Jesus knows the motives behind why you and I come to church and why we claim to be a Christian
He knows if our motives are about our own preferences and getting our own way
He knows if we’re holding on to something that’s not Biblical
He knows if we’re holding on the past instead of following His leading into the future
He knows if coming to church is just a “check box” item for us, and not about going deeper with Him and finding nourishment for our souls
If our thoughts are consumed with what’s happening after church instead of what’s happening during church, Jesus knows!
My Next Step Today Is To: Pursue what sustains my spiritual life and nourishes my soul, with the same effort and energy as I pursue what sustains my physical body.
That transitions us into Jesus’ words to the crowd about pursuing the eternal over the temporal
Eternal over temporal
Jesus instructs the crowd to move from the physical to the spiritual
What kind of “bread” are you seeking?
They were focused on the physical – receiving free food and not having to work anymore
Matthew 15:17, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?”
Physical food doesn’t last
The crowd was still going to have to eat, but Jesus wanted them to pursue the eternal with the same effort they pursued the physical
He is One (Son of Man) who is going to give them the spiritual food that will endure to eternal life
Jesus explains that He has received God’s seal of approval
When I hear the words “seal of approval” I always think of The Good Housekeeping Seal of approval [show the Good Housekeeping Seal]
They test products, so you can trust it
They’ve been doing it since 1909
Did you know that they have expanded the seal to other areas as well?
The Green Good Housekeeping Emblem [show image]
The Good Housekeeping Innovation Emblem [show image]
The Good Housekeeping Humanitarian Seal [show image]
The Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem [show image]
We are not told in the passage when Jesus received that seal of approval
There are various thoughts as to when He received the seal of approval
Some believe it was in heaven before He came to earth
Others believe it was during His baptism by John the Baptist
We don’t know, because we’re not told
Jesus is moving closer to His declaration of being the Bread of Life, but He has to deal with the crowds preconceived ideas first
That leads us to the crowds second question
“What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Notice that the crowd focuses on the wrong thing
Jesus intended for them to focus on the goal (spiritual instead of material) and not on work
Unfortunately, they focused on the work aspect instead of the goal
At this point they understood that Jesus was talking about the spiritual and not the material/physical
“As good Jews they wanted some way to work in order to gain God’s favor . . . ‘To Jewish questioners, attaining eternal life consisted in finding the right formula for performing works to please God . . .’ (Tenney, EBC, p. 75)” [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 122]
How often do we do the same thing?
We think that there is some special formula that God requires of us in order to please Him
We try to find out how many times we have to go to church in a week, a month, or a year
We try to determine how much we need to give to the church, missionaries, homeless, etc.
We wonder how long we should pray or study the Bible each day
All of that is meaningless if it’s done only to please God, and not out of our love for Him, our desire to bring Him praise and glory, and because of His gift of salvation offered to us
Jesus explains that it is not works (plural), but work (singular)
The work of God (what God requires) is for us to believe in Jesus
God requires faith in Jesus
PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s desire is that His created beings believe in Jesus.
“Faith, as we have seen, is the touchstone by which works are judged, not the other way around.” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 367]
Faith in Jesus, and the transformation He brings in our lives, sets us up to serve God by serving others with the right motive
It’s out of love for God and a desire for His name to be honored and glorified that we attend church, give to the church, missionaries, and the hurting, that we pray, and study His Word, that we visit the sick and those in prison, and so much more
The crowd is starting to understand what Jesus is saying, so they ask Him a third question
They realize that Jesus is saying that they need to believe in Him, because He is the One that God has sent
Their third question is really saying to Jesus, “Prove it!”
“What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”
Does anyone else find it interesting that most of the crowd, if not all of the crowd, just witnessed Jesus taking five small loaves of bread and two small fish and feeding a crowd of over 5,000 people with it?
Was that not a miraculous sign?
PRINCIPLE #3 – Faith comes by hearing and not seeing.
Too often, we’re just like the crowd in this story
We want God to do something miraculous for us, and then we will believe in Him or follow Him
“If You’ll just help me to get an A on this test, then I will believe in You.”
“If You’ll just heal my Dad, grandmother, child, friend, or me, then I will believe in You, Jesus.”
If You’ll just get me out of this financial hole, then I’ll follow You.”
If You’ll just heal my marriage or other relationship with a family member, coworker, neighbor, or fellow church attender, then I’ll believe in You.”
The list could go on and on
Romans 10:16-17, But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Jesus had been teaching them about God
They had heard the word of Christ, directly from Him
It wasn’t going to matter if Jesus did another miraculous sign for them
What matters is trusting in Jesus by faith and watching Him transform us from the inside out
Through that transformation we can and will see Him do the miraculous for His honor and glory
1 Corinthians 10:31, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
When we do everything for the glory of God:
We’ll do well on our tests, because we have studied to the glory of God
We’ll see God’s miraculous healing power (physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally)
We’ll experience God’s provision for our needs
The crowd wanted to see something on the scale of manna from heaven, just like their forefathers had experienced with Moses
“If Jesus is superior to Moses, as his tone and claims suggest, then should not his followers be privileged to witness mightier works than those seen by the disciples of Moses?” [Carson, 286]
There was a Rabbinic belief that the Messiah would call down manna from heaven, like Moses did [Carson, 286]
Some Rabbi’s interpreted Exodus 16:15 this way
Jesus reminded the Jews who had provided the bread from heaven
It was God who had provided it
God was now providing the true bread from heaven – Jesus Christ
The crowd was still struggling to understand that Jesus is talking about Himself as the bread of life
Perhaps they thought Jesus was speaking metaphorically of some kind of gift from God [Michaels, 372]
They want to receive this bread from now on
This would have been an incredible request if they truly understood what it meant
“The spiritual bread that the Lord can provide is necessary for life, suited for everyone, must be eaten daily, and produces spiritual growth in those who believe it.” [Gangel, 123]
We need Jesus in our life – He is necessary for us to live life fully
Suited for everyone – Jesus is gluten free, lactose free, peanut free (whatever allergy you may struggle with, Jesus is suited for you)
We need to feed on the bread of life daily
The crowd is so close to believing in Jesus
They want the bread of life, but they aren’t quite sure what it is and how to obtain it
Jesus makes it clear in this final section
True Bread (vv. 35-40)
“I am the bread of life.” (vv. 35-36)
Jesus cannot make it any clearer than this
What kind of “bread” are you seeking?
He is the bread of life that God has sent down from heaven
Come to Jesus
Jesus promises us that when we come to Him we will never hunger spiritually
“Jesus is the bread of life; he’s the only one who can fill the emptiness inside us. A full life is a life spent in pursuit of Jesus. A life spent any other way will feel barren and unfulfilled.” [Carter & Wredberg, 152]
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus encourages us, in this passage, to partner with Him in our life
He will teach us the right way to go as we follow His leading
Coming to Jesus will provide rest for our souls
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” [Augustine of Hippo, Confessions]
Revelation 22:17, The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let them who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Coming to Jesus means believing in Him
Believe in Jesus
We see here a return to the Samaritan woman at the well who was seeking living water
It is the same as not being hungry – Jesus satisfies every spiritual need we have
The greatest need we have as humans is the need to deal with the sin we are all born with
It affects every aspect of our lives
We are all born sinners, separated from God because of our sin (Rom. 3:23)
Since God is holy (perfect) He cannot allow sin into heaven
God is also just, so He has to punish sin (Rom. 6:23)
God is also love, so He made a way to take care of our punishment for sin (Rom. 5:8)
Romans 10:9-10, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Being saved is another way to express having eternal life
My Next Step Today Is To: Come to Jesus and believe in Him, so I can be saved and have eternal life.
The amazing thing is that they still didn’t believe even though they had seen Jesus face-to-face (v. 36)
Jesus then promises to protect those who come to Him and believe in Him
Jesus’ protection (vv. 37-40)
PRINCIPLE #4 – God promises to protect those who come to Jesus and believe in Him.
Most scholars see the doctrine of election in these final verses
All that the Father gives me will come to me
There seems to be the idea that the Father has chosen certain people to come to Jesus
When those individuals come to Jesus, He will never drive them away – this is an incredible promise for us as followers of Jesus Christ
What is in tension here is God’s sovereign will and human responsibility
God’s sovereignty – All that the Father gives me will come to me
Human responsibility – whoever comes to me I will never drive away
We see Jesus submitting to the Father’s will – He is not doing His own thing on earth, but only what the Father has told Him to do
Jesus expresses God’s will in two ways
God’s will is that Jesus will not lose any of those that God has given to Him – He will protect them and raise them up at the last day
God’s will is that everyone who looks to Jesus and believes in Him will have eternal life – He will protect them and raise them up at the last day
My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the promise that God will protect me, until the last day, when I come to Jesus and believe in Him for eternal life.
What kind of “bread” are you seeking?
Pursue what sustains your spiritual life and nourishes your soul, with the same effort and energy as you pursue what sustains your physical body
Come to Jesus and believe in Him, so you can be saved and have eternal life.
Claim the promise that God will protect you, until the last day, when you come to Jesus and believe in Him for eternal life.
When we pour ourselves into pursuing what sustains our spiritual life and nourishes our soul, those around us will see a difference in us and as a body of believers we will experience peace and unity
The Gospel is something that everyone needs to hear – it is part of the Great Commission of Pursuing Disciples, Growing Disciples, and Multiplying Disciples for Jesus Christ
I want to close with this illustration from Gangel that helps us understand the doctrine of election, which combines God’s sovereignty and humanity’s responsibility.
“My seminary theology professor, Dr. Alva J. McClain, used a wonderful illustration to explain the doctrine of election, one which I have repeated hundreds of times throughout my own ministry. He talked about standing outside a beautiful garden, perhaps like the Butschart Gardens on Vancouver Island, or perhaps the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, or the DuPont Gardens in Delaware. As we stand outside the gate surveying the beautiful array of flowers, we ponder what it might cost to spend two or three hours strolling around the gardens and photographing the beautiful scenery.
About this point, we look at the stone archway over the gate and read in large letters, ‘Whosoever Will May Come.’ Surely it cannot be possible. Places like this are always expensive. But there is no ticket booth, no waiting line, no signs offering different rates for children, adults, and seniors. Assuming the sign means what it says, we enter the garden and begin to peruse its botanical treasures. Before we get too far down the pathways, however, we want to see that welcome sign one more time – inviting us without charge to enjoy this magnificent place. But as we turn, we look up at the interior of the wall and see the wording of the sign has changed. Now it reads, ‘Chosen in Him from the Foundation of the World.’
McClain’s point was both brilliant and simple: to unbelievers, the message is a universal call to faith in Jesus Christ; to believers, it is a reminder that God has controlled our eternal destiny from the beginning. To state it theologically, only the elect will come, but those who come demonstrate they have been chosen.”
[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 132-133].