Bread of Heaven, Part 2
Joh 6:34-59 ESV They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." (35) Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (36) But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. (37) All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (39) And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (40) For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (41) So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." (42) They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" (43) Jesus answered them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. (44) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (45) It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— (46) not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. (47) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (48) I am the bread of life. (49) Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (50) This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." (52) The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (53) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (54) Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (55) For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56) Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (57) As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. (58) This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." (59) Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at
Last week we read the first part of this discourse of Jesus where we learned about the Jews who had followed Christ across the Sea of Galilee to
Capernaum. Many of them, had been a part of Jesus’
miracle of feeding the 5,000 and had a desire to take Him by force and make Him
Jesus dismissed the disciples and sent them on ahead to
Capernaum… then He calms
the crowd and goes up on the mountain to pray.
Sometime during the night… seeing the disciples struggle in the storm
that came up suddenly… Jesus walked on the water… enters the boat they’re in…
and the storm not only calms… but they find themselves “immediately” at their
Then we saw that on next day, the Jews on the other side wake to find Jesus MIA… so they go looking for Him. After finding Him in a synagogue in
Capernaum… they started a
discussion with Him that lead to His teaching them about the differences
between the food that the world has to offer… and the food that endures to
After telling them that the bread of God that came down from heaven is the bread that gives “life to the world” (6:33)… they in turn make a request that’s similar to the request made by the Samaritan woman at the well after she heard about “living water”, and asked… “Joh 4:15 ESV … "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water."
In similar fashion… when these Jews hear about bread from God that gives “eternal life”… they ask… Joh 6:34 ESV … "Sir, give us this bread always."
Though I believe the difference between these two instances is that the Samaritan woman had faith… and the Jews really didn’t… they are similar in that both the Jews and the Samaritan woman were still thinking in “worldly” and “natural” terms.
She was thinking of real water… and they were thinking of real bread… This in itself is a little unusual because the Jews weren’t unfamiliar with the practice of spiritualizing ideas. Many of the popular rabbis would spiritualize worldly concepts in order to illustrate their point… just as Jesus did…
So… it is unusual that they weren’t “getting it”… unless you make an argument that their “not getting it” was a ploy used to find something to trap Him… or trip Him up… And that could very well be the case… but the scriptures usually tells us when this is the underlying motive.
But, regardless of their motives… or lack of motives… in the rest of this discourse… Jesus moves more and more from speaking in “shadows” to giving more and more detail until He actually reaches the crass or coarse by bluntly talking about “eating” His flesh and “drinking” His blood.
Statements that initially would be shocking… maybe even bordering on pagan… if someone were to enter the conversation late… not knowing what was said before.
Think about it for a minute… can you imagine what you might think if you walked up right at that point? Do you think you might do a “double take” and exclaim, “What?” Even my wife… when we were talking about this very thing the other day… asked me why Jesus spoke like this? She thought it was blunt… and maybe even a little gross. (And I’d have to agree…)
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So… as I was reading through today’s text… praying as I always do for some “revelation”… I really struggled… This text contains so much… I could easily preach on these 25 verses for the next several weeks! 25 verses… 25 weeks…
But you know what? The Lord is merciful toward you! As I began mapping out these verses… all of them dealing with the central theme of Jesus being the “Bread from Heaven”… He opened my eyes to the fact that this whole passage revolves around two simple gospel truths…
These truths are, first… all who desire to be saved and hope for eternal life… must first “Come to Christ”… and second… all who come to Christ will be…“Received by Christ”.
It’s really just that simple…
Joh 6:35 ESV Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Now… as I mentioned earlier… Jesus began this discussion talking about the real bread from heaven being different from the bread that Moses fed their fathers.
And if someone hadn’t understood Him up to this point… which it appears that most of them didn’t understand… He now makes His point crystal clear by saying… “I am the bread of life…”
“That bread that I told you about that I give to whoever I wish… and all who partake of it will have eternal life? Well… That’s ME!” “Come to me and you’ll never hunger again… Believe in me, and you’ll never thirst again.”
“Come”… “Believe’… What’s He talking about? What does it mean to come to Christ? How does one go about doing it?
Coming to Christ… and believing in Christ are synonymous… they mean pretty much the same thing. It means receiving His doctrine… believing what He teaches to be the truth of God… It means believing that His death on the Cross was substitutionary… that He took my place and made the payment of a debt I couldn’t pay.
It means believing that His death atoned for my sins and made me right with God… because now through faith, I am clothed with His righteousness… not mine.
It means knowing that my sins are blotted out… my soul has been purified before God… and His justice has been satisfied…
It also means that because of all of the above… I am now at rest! I have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! The penalty for my sin no longer hangs over my head… threatening to fall at any moment. The knowledge that I have been saved, sanctified and secured in Christ… gives me peace.
And the last thing I want to mention is that, although, just like all men… I may die at any moment… This physical body may expire at any time… That doesn’t scare me. Because unlike all men… I have believed in Christ unto salvation… and my spirit has been made alive in Him… And, that which is made alive in Christ… will never die!
This is the simple explanation of what it means to “come to Christ”. But how does this happen? How does a person go about doing it?
Well… that’s simple too. Remember last week, when the Jews asked Jesus the same thing? Joh 6:28 ESV …"What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"
And then we found out that the only thing we can “do”… is “believe” in Christ… Joh 6:29 ESV … "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." Our “work”… that thing we must “do”… goes far beyond the natural and physical… into the spiritual… We must “believe”.
Well today we find that only those who are “drawn” to the Son by the Father can believe… Joh 6:44 ESV No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…
Joh 6:65 ESV … "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
We also find that all those who are drawn by the Father… are “given” to the Son… Joh 6:37 ESV All that the Father gives me will come to me...
Joh 6:39 ESV And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me…. (See also Joh 17:6, 12, 24)
And furthermore… all who are “drawn” by the Father and “given” to the Son… “will come” to the Son! Joh 6:37 ESV All that the Father gives me will come to me…
Let me tell ya something… when God purposes a thing… there is no room for doubt… no place for error… no such thing as chance. He is sovereign over His creation and He is the primary cause of all things.
The salvation of man was planned out from eternity… all who come to Christ were chosen in Him… long ago… Eph 1:4a ESV even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…
This is the Scripture. This is the plain teaching of the Bible… and yet there are Christians who dislike it because it takes salvation out of man’s hands and places it firmly into God’s hands.
So… just like the Jews of old… the ones in this very chapter… they continue to ask… Joh 6:28 ESV …"What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" When what’s required… has been done… and all that’s left… is “believe”!
This is a beautiful and extremely humbling example of the sovereignty of God… and the responsibility of
Two truths that are clearly taught in the Bible… yet they appear to be
The natural man would ask, “If God is sovereign in salvation… then how can man be responsible?” It’s the same question that Paul foresaw men asking when he wrote in Romans… Rom 9:19 ESV You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
And do you know what God’s response was? “Shut up!” God’s response to that question in Romans is the same response He gave to Job when Job questioned God’s sovereignty… “Shut up!”, “Who are you to question me?”, “Where were you, when I did all these things like create everything that is out of nothing?” “Can the clay ask the Potter, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
God is sovereign in salvation… and Man is responsible. Two truths that run parallel to each other in the Bible… Like railroad tracks running beside each other… though they may appear to come together way off in the distance… they actually never do.
And our inability to completely understand them in this fashion… And all our efforts and complete failure… to make these parallel truths come together into one track… to force them to harmonize… only goes to prove that we’re still just clay. We’re not as smart as we would like to think we are…
Once we come to that realization… Once we can acknowledge that… we can move on… confident in the knowledge that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws them… And that it is the work of the Holy Spirit that regenerates our heart and causes us to desire Christ.
And when that happens… we will be…
II. “Received by Christ”
Joh 6:37 ESV All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Now, the title I’ve given to this section… and the verse we just read… are a bit misleading. What I mean is that though it is absolutely true that all who come to Christ… will be received by Christ… that’s not what this verse says.
This verse doesn’t say… “Whoever comes to me I will receive”… it says something completely different… it says… “I will never cast out!”
Do you see what I mean? The implication is that all those who have been “given” and “come” to Christ… have already “received” by Christ. They were the love gift from the Father to the Son… and because the Son came only to do His Father’s will…
Joh 6:38 ESV For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
He would never turn away… or not accept… a gift from the Father.
So this isn’t as much a statement about being received by Christ… as it is a statement of our security in Christ. Once we are His… we are His forever. And of all those who are His… He says… Joh 6:39 ESV … I should lose nothing of all that he has given me...
Christ will never cast out… or lose… anyone who has been given to Him by the Father… because that would be like denying Himself. He is the Son, after all… the second Person of the Trinity.
The Father draws people to the Son through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit… All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in the salvation of man. And God works in unity… regenerating… drawing… and receiving.
And the other promise to those who are saved by Christ is... Joh 6:54b ESV … I will raise him up on the last day.
Four times in this passage (vs. 39, 40, 44 and 54), Jesus tells us that He will raise up those who are his… on the last day. And this is something that tends to be glossed over when we speak or think of “eternal life”…
The fact is that it’s eternal “life”… not “death”. Eternal life isn’t just a spiritual concept… something we enjoy forever in a non-corporeal condition. We will be raised from the dead… given physical bodies once again… and we will live eternally in that state… physically… not just spiritually.
As the Bible says… it is eternal “life”! When we die… we will go to be with the Lord in heaven. As wonderful as that is… our ultimate goal isn’t heaven… but the resurrection and the new heaven and new earth… the Kingdom!
Now… a final point I want to make concerning the rest of our passage… is that you’ll notice from somewhere around verse 50 to verse 59… Jesus makes some remarkable statements… about eating His flesh… and drinking His blood…
He had been confronting their continued, willful unbelief… and in the process… He didn’t tone down, soften, or even clarify His words. Instead… He made His teaching even harder for them to swallow by adding a shocking concept… Eating His flesh… and drinking His blood!
This is simply a restating of what He’s already said… that anyone who desires eternal life must come to Him and believe in Him. He is not speaking literally of eating His literal, physical flesh and drinking the blood out of His veins. This is a metaphor… and it’s referring to the necessity of accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death.
Also… this is not a statement concerning the Lord’s Supper.
I say this for 3 reasons. First… nowhere in the Bible is the bread and wine referred to as “flesh”. His body… yes. His flesh… no. Two… the Lord’s Supper hadn’t even been instituted yet. That would be a year to a year and a half away later. And three… if this were referring to the Lord’s Supper… then it’s teaching that the only thing necessary for salvation is to take Communion. Reread verses 48-59 again… you’ll see what I’m talking about.
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Next week… we’ll have Part 3 of this “Bread of Heaven” series… and we’ll talk about the disciples reactions to Christ’s words.
But at the moment… I’m more interested in your reactions. Have you appropriated Christ’s sacrificial death for yourself? What I mean by that is… have you come to Christ in faith… believing that though His death on the cross was for the sins of the world… they were also for you… specifically?
Have you repented of your sins? Given your life to Christ? And do you follow Him now?
If you haven’t yet… that opportunity is before you now. Don’t squander it.