Skip Heitzig - John 6:22-6:71
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Father, we give you this time during the week as part of our worship back to you. It's a way for us to say that we love you enough, we worship you so much, that what you say to us is worth our listening to, that gathering together as a group, as a body, as a church, listening to the same texts of scripture together and determining what it means to us as a group, and what do you want from us individually, that that's important to us. It's part of our worship. Give us ears to hear, as in the words of Jesus, give us ears to hear your message for the church. We your people. In Jesus' name. Amen.
If you have ever seen a miracle, it is a life altering experience. When I say a miracle, I mean that. I mean the suspension of natural law. I don't mean a baby has been born, gee, that's a miracle, or I found a parking space at the mall during Christmas time. That's wonderful. But it's not a miracle. A miracle is the suspension of natural law. And if you have ever seen one, it changes you. Because what it immediately does, it brings to you the awareness that God is real and that God is near. And it usually shakes a person to the core. Early on in Jesus' ministry, when our Lord said throw the nets on the other side of the boat, and they had that great catch of fish, it dawned on Peter what was happening. It dawned on Peter that what he'd just witnessed and felt in that catch of fish was not normal, it was not natural. They had been fishing all night.
There was somebody who was able to control the forces of nature itself and he's in the boat, and his reaction wasn't, oh that's so cool. He said, depart from me lord I'm a sinful man. In realizing who he was looking at, he realized who he was himself and it shook him.
I told you before about my friend Tony who had an accident lifting something, hurt his shoulder tremendously, and his radial nerve, and I forget which hand, right or left but, was impinged, it was pinched. So his hand was deformed, and he was over at my, I was single, he was over at my apartment one night, and he had fallen a little bit away from the Lord. And he's in this condition, and doctors were treating him. And so as we were falling asleep, I just prayed that the Lord would touch him and heal him.
I didn't even pray out loud. And I didn't make a show of it, I didn't pour oil on him. I didn't say, bless says the Lord. I didn't do any of that. I was falling asleep and I was just, oh lord it would just be so amazing if you'd just touch Tony and heal him and just show him how much you love him. And I'm drifting off to sleep and, suddenly, the light goes on, Tony gets out of bed, and he starts yelling at me calling, my name. And he's going like this, moving his hand. Right in front of my eyes. I saw it with my own eyes right after my prayer.
And I was shaken. I started filling up with tears, and we were both weeping. And it was just a tremendous opportunity. It does something to a person. However, miracles can also change, perhaps the way one relates to God, the way one prays, the motivation for following the Lord. So that you begin to seek the Lord, not for who he is, but for what he gives, what he might do now, what's next on the miracle agenda.
I begin the study tonight with that because that is what you're going to see happening here. You're going to see people following the Lord, seeking after the Lord. Which, in most churches, we will go amen, put their name down and let's count them as part of our group and it's so exciting. But Jesus confronts them because of it. And the confrontation will lead to many of those would be disciples turning away and walking away from him.
It was James Montgomery Boice in his commentary on the Gospel of John who said, we have now come to a place in American Christianity where we are seeing that lamentable tendencies for people seeking the Lord based on personal need than just seeking God Himself. And so we begin in chapter 6 in verse 22. On the following day, this is after the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 men. We can guess there were maybe 15 or 20,000 people total.
On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea," that is, the lake of Galilee. "When they saw that there was no other boat except that one which his disciples had entered and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but his disciples had gone away alone, however, other boats came from Tiberius near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks, when the people, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there nor his disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum", now look at the wording, "seeking Jesus."
Oh, this sounds good. They're seeking the Lord, we would say. They are following after him. They want him. "And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?'" Now, you know he didn't take the boat. He walked. He walked on the water. He met them, calmed the sea, and got in the boat, and went the rest of the way with them. "They said, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Most assuredly I say to you, you seek me not because you saw the signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.'"
In other words, he calls their bluff. No words of nicety. This would be the kind of counseling session that people would get up and leave and try to phone the senior pastor and say, do you know that that counselor of yours was rude to me? He called me out. He said, you're not seeking me for the right reason or seeking the Lord for the right reason. This is Jesus' own language. You seek me not because you saw the signs, but you had a good meal and you were filled.
So in other words, there are those people who seek the Lord not because they love the Lord, not because they want the Lord, but they want what the Lord gives to them. They are seeking the gifts rather than the giver. And it was precisely this that Jesus was saying to them. They woke up the next day. They were hungry again. It was breakfast time. This is sort of like saying, hey, that miracle yesterday, that dinnertime meal, was great. It was really cool. But what's for breakfast? That was in their hearts. They wanted another miracle. They wanted another sign. And they will ask for that in just a few verses.
So rather than hungering and thirsting after righteousness, they're just hungering period, for physical stuff, for physical food. Nothing's wrong with that, of course. You need food to eat. But that was their motivation. The miracle got them hooked. And they just wanted another miracle, another sign, so much so, just to show you how important this is and grave a situation, because as Jesus goes through his message in this chapter and they realize he's not going to give us what we want, in verse 66, many of his disciples turned and walked away and followed him no more. So it's an issue about motivation.
I remember when I came to Christ by watching Billy Graham. And when he used to preach his crusade messages, he would end in a very peculiar way. It would sound peculiar to us today. He would lead people in the prayer. And his final words were, "And don't forget to go to church this Sunday." He would often always tell people to go to church. And it's a good thing to go to church. But I guess we need to ask ourselves the question, why do I go to church? What is my reasoning? I'm glad you're here. And I would dare say our midweek folks are here for the right reason. They want to learn and grow that they might grow in relationship and please the Lord. But it's a good question for all church goers to ask, why am I coming to church? Why am I praying? Why am I reading my Bible?
Some years ago, a group of researchers did a study of churchgoers, churchgoers. But they went a little deeper, examining four areas of churchgoers' life and practice. Besides just going to church, church attendance, they looked at four other areas of their lives. And they made this discovery. They said, churchgoing Americans, about 22% are avidly spiritual. That is, they put into practice what they say they believe. They're avidly . Spiritual they're truly committed. About 19% were people going to church who the survey considered moderately religious. They come to church. But it's hit and miss. They do other things, spiritual exercises. But it's hit and miss. They're never really committed and deeply consistent.
And it said 29% of church-going Americans are nominally religious, that is, in name only. They're not really committed to any great degree at all. They're there for other reasons, other motives. So it's always a good question to ask ourselves that. I don't need to badger you with it or probe you with it. May the Lord do that with each one of us. But why do I do what I do spiritually? What is my real motivation?
I've spoken to young men who say, honestly, I've come to church, he told me that. I used to come to your church because of the cute girls. And so I said, well, did you find any? He said, yeah, but they weren't interested in me. And I thought, good. They're being fed well. "Most assuredly I say to you, you seek me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you because God, the Father, has set his seal on Him."
In other words, don't aim below to satisfy physical needs of your decaying flesh or decaying body. Don't aim below. Aim up high. Aim at heaven. In the words of the Apostle Paul, set your affections, your mind, on things above, not on things of this Earth, but on things above, where Christ is raised and seated at the right hand of God. CS Lewis used to say so perfectly, he had a knack with words. He said, "Aim at heaven, and you'll get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth, and you'll get neither." The words of Jesus are even clearer. "But seek Ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you."
What our Lord is saying here in this chapter is the equivalent of what he has already said in the fourth chapter to the woman at the Samaritan well. When he said, "If you drink of this water, you will thirst again. But if you drink of the water that I will give, you will never thirst." So let me ask you a question. How do you get your needs met? I love asking these kinds of questions. I love asking applicational, probing questions. I do it to myself when I am asking you this question.
How do we get our needs met? The real and the best answer is by seeking the Lord. But, but you get your needs met by seeking the Lord not so that you can get your needs met. You get your needs met by just seeking the Lord, period. It's all about Him. It's his will. It's his kingdom. It's his righteousness.
He'll take care of you. You seek him. Don't seek him as a means to an end. Seek him as the end. "Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you."
Then Verse 28, "Then they said to him", Now, this is all a fluid, dynamic conversation. "They said to him, 'What shall we do that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
Now, understand the flow of the conversation so you understand this question, "What must we do to work the works of God?" He has just told them not to work or labor for physical things, but labor for spiritual things. So they immediately take that, when they're listening, to mean, I've got to do something to work for salvation, to work for heaven, to work for the right relationship with God. So "what must we do to work the works of God?"
Now, why would they ask a question like that? Because that's how they were programmed. It's how they'd been taught. They grew up believing in a works-based righteousness. I get to heaven by doing religious works. So OK, you did a miracle. And you're telling us these things. So "what must we do to work the works of God?" That's how they were programmed.
In Romans, Chapter 10, Paul speaks about the Jewish nation, Israel, and Judaism. And he said, "They have a zeal for God not according to", what? Knowledge. "They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." He continues, Roman 10, this is around verse 2, 3, 4, right around there. "For they, being ignorant of the righteousness of God and seeking to s their own righteousness have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
They are looking to be right with God by doing certain works instead of submitting themselves to the righteousness of God. Now, this is something. It's foreign to them. The idea of justification by faith, a New Testament staple, a foundational truth, the idea of justification by faith is completely unfamiliar to them. But that is what Jesus is teaching them.
Verse 27, notice again. "Do not labor for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life", watch this, "which the Son of Man will", what? "Give you."
You don't earn it. It'll be a gift. You receive a gift. You don't earn a gift. You're thinking about working works. This is justification by faith. It will be given to you. So they're asking the question, what must we do? Jesus is saying, "This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
I hope you can see the difference here. They're thinking, I have to do something. He's saying, you have to believe someone. Do something or believe someone?
Would you agree that most of the people you meet are in the first category? What do I have to do to get to heaven? That's why people will say, you know, I try my best. I give it my best shot. I have the right reason and motivation. I am not perfect, but I'm working hard. And I go to church. And I read my Bible. And I do this. I take the sacraments, whatever background or persuasion you might have, hoping that in the end, it will all shake out because what they're saying is that to get to heaven, you have to do good works.
But here's a question I have for you. Let's think of this logically. If you can get to heaven by being good, then the follow-up question is, how good do you have to be? So imagine a conversation. If I say, how do you get to heaven? Well, by being good. OK, how good do you have to be?
I mean, are you going to set the standard? Or is that guy over there drinking that double macchiato, is he going to set the standard? Because his standard may be different than yours. Whose standard of goodness are we going by here? Yours, mine, his, or God's? Because if you're going by God's standard, you're going to have a huge problem.
For Jesus himself, when the rich young ruler said, "Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said, why do you call me good? There's only one good, and that's God. Now, he either is saying, I am no good. Or he is saying, I am God. But he asked the poignant question, why are you calling me good because last time I checked, that standard of goodness can only be defined by the one who created the world and its moral values. And that is God.
"What must we do to work to do the works?" The answer is fitting because the rest of the answer would be there's nothing you could ever do that's good enough. Therefore, here's the work of God. "Believe in Him whom he has sent." By the way, John, the writer, loves the word "believe." He loves it. It's his favorite word. He uses it more than any other writer in the New Testament.
Did you know that the word "believe" shows up 241 times in the New Testament? John uses it about 100 times in this gospel alone. He takes the lion's share and talks about believe, believe, believe. 107 times, John uses it in all of his writings, 98 times in the Gospel of John. Verse 30, "Therefore, they said to him, 'What sign will you perform then that we may see it and believe you? What work will you do?'" What's wrong with this question?
Right, you're getting that this is ludicrous, only somebody blind could ask this kind of a question. That's the point. They're spiritually insensate. They're blind. "What sign are you're going to do?" Uh, what part of the free lunch yesterday did you guys not get? When did you ever see any sign like that? But we have to read on to really understand their thinking.
"Our fathers ate the manna in the desert. As it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat." Suddenly, they were comparing Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000 or 20,000, let's just be realistic, to Moses in the wilderness and the manna that came down from heaven.
Why would they make the comparison? It's simple, two reasons, well, really one reason, two parts. Moses himself in Deuteronomy 18 said, "The Lord God will send another prophet like me to you." And so the Messiah was sometimes called, in Judaism, "the prophet, the prophet." "Are you the prophet," they asked John the Baptist.
Go back to Verse 14 of Chapter 6, "Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, 'This is truly the prophet who is to come into the world.'" They're already learning to equate Jesus with the prediction of Moses in Deuteronomy 18 as being the fulfillment of the prophet.
"What sign are you're going to give?" Moses gave manna. And now in saying what they are saying, they are marginalizing what Jesus just performed, marginalizing his miracle. Let me loosely paraphrase it.
You know, you gave us food yesterday. But it was only one meal. Moses provided it for 40 years in the desert every single day, which by the way, was part of the reason they complained in the desert, right, because of the manna.
I mean, it was amazing stuff. It tasted all sorts of different ways. It could be baked. It could be cooked a number of different ways. Manicotti, I suppose, and manna souffle, and all sorts of different ways. But they started loading it. They started hating it and complaining against it. Bamanna bread. They, "Jesus said to them," Verse 32, "Most assuredly I say to you... is the Greek, "Amen, Amen," or "truly, truly." "Most assuredly I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven. But my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Then they said to Him. "Lord, give us this bread always." you see, they still don't get it. It's like, wow, you're like a walking bakery. Give us this bread always.
And you have had the experience of telling people spiritual things only to have them look at you like deer in the headlights. It's like, huh? They just can't connect. They're spiritually blind to it.
"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger. He who believes in me shall never thirst." Jesus answers their rebuttal about Moses in the wilderness by saying, first of all, Moses didn't give you the bread. God, my Father, gave the bread. Moses had nothing to do with it. He was a spectator. He watched the whole thing. Moses didn't do it. God did.
The second thing you need to know is that it was just temporary. It fed them physically. But they all died in the wilderness. It was just a temporary fix.
And number three, spiritual nutrition, that's what he's really zeroing in on, the true bread that comes from heaven. Spiritual nutrition is a being, a living being, not a loaf of bread. Spiritual nutrition is a living being, not a loaf of bread. This is the true bread that comes down from heaven"
Now, Jesus makes a statement here, "I am the bread of life." Keep your antennas up, or keep your eyes open, for these statements in the Gospel of John, the "I am" statements of Jesus. There are seven of them in the Gospel of John. This is the first one. There will be seven, another feature of John's writings. 23 times in this gospel, Jesus will say "I am, I am, I am." The Greek construction "ego eimi," "I am."
But seven times, he will use a metaphor. So let's see if I can remember them. "I am the bread of life," that's the first one. "I am the light of the world," that's the second one. "I am the door to the sheepfold." "I am the good shepherd." "I am the Resurrection and the life." "I am the way, the truth, and the life." And number seven, "I am the true vine. And my Father is the vine dresser."
You will see that sequence followed in the Gospel of John as Jesus makes these incredible statements about his identity, his divinity, because he wants them to know who He is claiming to be, that He is equal with His Father, that He and his Father are one.
"So Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life, ' Verse 35, 'He who comes to me shall never hunger. He who believes in me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me. And the one who comes to me, I will by no means cast out."
Now, I'm going to camp on this verse for just a couple moments. There's a couple of verses in this chapter that are just, I mean, when you read them, they're like wow. How did he do that? How did he do a whole theological truth in a single statement? This is one of them.
This verse and this section gives us two perspectives of salvation, the divine perspective, the human perspective. It all has to do with choice. God has chosen you, but you must choose Him. Both of those truths are in this section and in this verse. God must choose you first. And then you choose Him. You cooperate.
So the first perspective is divine election, divine election or predestination. God knows in advance those who will choose Him, those who are His. He elects you. He invites you to eat the bread of life. But also it is true, you must decide to sit down to the table and pick up the fork.
And by the way, these two truths, human volition, my choice to follow Him, and divine election, are not in contradistinction to each other. They are not contradictory truths. They are compatible truths.
We call them truth held in tension. They seem contradictory. They are not. They're compatible. They're truth held in tension. And the bridge requires tension, a suspension bridge at least, for it to stay in place.
If you've ever been across the Golden Gate Bridge, you know the only reason you are making it from one place to the other, if you get from San Francisco to Oakland, it's only because there is tension. And it's working for you. And so it is with this.
In one verse, Verse 37, you have divine election, God's choice, and human responsibility, volition. Look at Verse 37 again and look at it. See it. Notice it, I mean.
"All that the Father gives me will come to bee." That's divine election. That's God's choice in advance. "And the one who comes to me, I will by no means cast out." That's human volition. That's the choice to do so. Sometimes, like here, you find these incredible truths compacted in one little verse.
"For I have come down from heaven," Verse 38. Oh, let me give you an example of this. Last week, I boarded an airplane from Albuquerque to Los Angeles International Airport, and then from Los Angeles International Airport to in Lihue in Kauai in Hawaii.
I chose to get on the plane. I even chose my seat. Well, Lainey booked my seat for me. So she got me the exit row for long legs. I try to choose that seat.
Now, the airplane was going to a pre-determined port. It was determined in advance where it was going. The FAA, Federal Aviation Association, along with that particular airlines, American Airlines, worked a schedule together. And that plane was going whether I was on it or not.
But I chose, as did other passengers, to do it. So all of us were on this plane with choice. We chose what airlines, what day, and the destination, even though that was already determined by the FAA and the airlines.
Once we were aboard the plane, we decided what we were going to do on the plane. Some of us wanted to read magazines. Others wanted to sleep. Others wanted to have the meal, the eight peanuts they give you in the little bag because everything else is $300 to get a little sandwich. So you opt for the eight peanuts.
Others say, no, I don't want peanuts, or I'm allergic to peanuts. Others will watch a movie. Most people, honestly, were just looking at their little devices, like they do when they drive. But the point is, you had human choice and predetermination both working together flawlessly. So we find that as a truth, a salient truth, a compatible truth, in the scripture.
"For I have come down from heaven", Verse 38, "not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." By the way, that statement is what bothers them. He just said He came down from heaven. I know we read this. We've read it before. We just sort of read through it.
He just said to this crowd, this person, this human person, it would seem like, hey, I came down from heaven. That now sets him apart from every other human being who's walked the Earth because that implies preexistence. And that implies not humanity, but divinity.
How does one do that? How does one come down from heaven? And that is the one statement that will really bother them.
"I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me. This is the will of the Father who sent me that all He has given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up on the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent me that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life. And I will raise Him up on the last day."
The Jews then complained about Him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven?' Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, 'Don't murmur. Do not murmur among yourselves. Don't complain about this. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
They are operating under the assumption that they are speaking to a human being only even though their own prophet, the major prophet, Isaiah, said that the coming one is going to be both human and divine. Isaiah Chapter 9, "For unto us, a child is born," human. "And unto us, a son is given," divine. "The government will be upon his shoulders. His kingdom will be everlasting." That can't be said of any human, unless they are fully divine and fully human.
The virgin birth was predicted by Isaiah, the prophet. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and be with child." Their own prophet said that. But they are making the assumption that this one is not that one.
This is just the son of Joseph, which he wasn't the son of Joseph. Joseph had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus whatsoever, as we know from scripture. Jesus preexisted. Jesus lived before Bethlehem, before the manger, in eternity past. But notice Verse 44. I just want to make a quick comment on it. I do want to finish the chapter. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
He keeps using this phrase, "And I will raise him up on the last day." We've talked about Resurrection before. But do you know that you will have a physical resurrection? I hope you're looking forward to it.
Your body, even if you die before the Lord comes back, will be buried in the ground. It will decay. It will not look good. It will turn to dust. If you're complaining about yourself looking how you look now, like I do, I remind myself, just wait. It's going to get worse.
But the moment that happens, my spirit will be with the Lord. I'll be in His presence. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I'll be with the Lord. While I'm with the Lord in spirit but not in body, I'll be waiting for the day when the Resurrection happens. "The dead in Christ will rise first." That's Resurrection. "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air." So Resurrection day is Rapture day.
And it is called "the last day" because that is the last day of the church on the Earth. Resurrection day, for all those who die in Christ before that day, that is the last day of church history. God will still move. But there will be a tribulation period on the Earth. The church, last day will be the Rapture. We will be taken up into heaven. "I will raise him up at the last day."
Now, Verse 45, "It is written in the prophets", and he's quoting now Isaiah Chapter 54, Verse 13. "It is written in the prophets. And they shall all be taught by God." That's what Isaiah says in Isaiah 54. "And they shall all be taught by God." Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
Why did Jesus say this? Simply because he's explaining to them how it is that the Father draws people to Jesus, draws them. How does he do that? Well, "And it is written, they shall all be taught by God." So God chooses people in advance, predestination, election. Right? He gives them to Jesus, his own words.
And once he chooses them, then he teaches them. He speaks to them through the teaching of his Word, through the teaching of his Word. Anybody who responds to the teaching of his Word will come to Jesus.
See the revelation that we tell people when we tell people to come to Jesus, we're not making this story up. Nobody would make up a story that condemns everybody as a sinner going to hell. That didn't sound like a popular religion. Nobody would make that stuff up, to say that "you are doomed apart from Christ, but if you trust in him, you'll be saved."
So we only proclaim what has been taught by God in the revelation of scripture. And anyone who is willing to receive God's teaching will come to Jesus. God will unlock their hearts. So he chooses them. He speaks to them.
"Every one of us heard and learned from the Father comes to me, not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God. He has seen the father." He's speaking of Himself. We haven't seen God yet. Ah, but we will. One day we will.
1 Corinthians 13, "We see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face-to-face." 1 John 3, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we shall be called the children of God. Therefore, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God. And it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him just as He is."
Aren't you looking forward to the day when you will actually see the Lord and be able to enjoy the experience? Moses wanted to see the Lord. He would not have enjoyed the experience. God said, no man has seen me, no one can see me and live, Mo. Mo, if you see me, you'll see me no mo. You'll be gone. But one day, we will see the Lord. We'll behold Him.
"Most assuredly," verily, verily, that very strong Greek construction, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life." OK, again, indulge me. I have to camp on this. Here's another one of these single verses packed with theological truth.
This is perhaps the most significant salvation scripture. What I mean by that is it's the briefest and the clearest way that a person is saved. "He who believes in me", not will have, someday, hopefully, "will have", that's a guarantee, "will have" present tense, "everlasting life."
How do you get everlasting life? You believe. You believe. It's not by good works, not by churchgoing. It's not by law keeping. It's not by keeping the Golden Rule or I live by the Sermon on the Mount. It's by believing. "If you believe in Him, you have everlasting life."
"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the man in the wilderness. And they're dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die." Can you imagine eating bread that tastes incredible, not only tastes incredible, makes you feel wonderful, saves you, satisfies you, and is non-fattening? That is Wonder Bread. He is Wonder Bread.
"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate their dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven. If you eat of it, you won't die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I give is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world. The Jews, therefore, quarreled among themselves saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly I say to you, 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. And I will raise him up at the last day, for my flesh is food indeed. My blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. 'As the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not as our fathers ate the manna and are dead", he reminds them of that twice. "He who eats this bread will live forever. These things, he taught in the synagogue as he taught in Capernaum."
Now Jesus, in these statements, gives them raw, shocking verbiage about his sacrificial death. When they heard what he just said, they were shocked. They were shocked because it says in Leviticus 23, "The life of the flesh is in the blood."
And Jews were forbidden to take blood of any kind, to drink blood or to have bloody meat. It had to be drained the kosher way. They were forbidden to take blood. So Jesus said this very raw and shocking to shock them, to get their attention. "Eat my flesh and drink my blood."
OK, I was raised in a system. And I know some of you were. It's the Roman Catholic Church that taught the doctrine of transubstantiation. You might say, they never taught me that. I never heard that word. It doesn't matter if you heard the word or not. That's just a theological term for the belief that when you take communion, the wafer and the juice or the wine, you are taking the actual body and the actual blood of Jesus.
There is the transformation where those elements become His flesh and become literally His blood. That's what I was taught. Not a symbol. It's literal. It's called transubstantiation. If you were raised Roman Catholic, that's what you were taught. You are actually eating the body and blood.
Now, that is not what Jesus means here. How do I know that? I know that number one because He has not yet instituted the Last Supper or communion at all yet. And He won't for another couple years. So for Him to say this at this point would be a nonsensical statement to anyone, listening even his disciples. So that's reason number one.
Reason number two, if Jesus meant that you were taking communion, then he says, "If you take my body and my blood, you will have everlasting life." right? That's what he says. So if he says, if you take communion and you'll have everlasting life. Now, Jesus just taught against what he just taught because he said salvation is a gift. You receive it. You believe in Him. Now he's teaching, if that's what he means, salvation by works. You have to do that. If you do this, if you do this work, this activity, you'll be saved. You'll have everlasting life. Right? So that would be a contradiction of salvation by grace.
Number three, the tense in the Greek language is the aorist tense. The aorist tense is an action that is done once and for all, never to be, it doesn't have to be repeated again. It's done. It's over. It's punctiliar in time. That is, it's done. It's over. It's the aorist tense.
Communion is done how? How often? Often, right? You do it over and over and over and over again. So when he says, "Whoever takes my body eats my body," all that is in a tense that is it's done.
The fourth reason is context. Jesus, in the context of this teaching, plainly says, when he speaks about his body and blood that He's speaking in spiritual terms, not literal terms. That's what He says. Go to Verse 63.
"It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit. And they are life." I'm speaking spiritually about these life-giving truths. So he's not speaking about communion.
What is he's speaking? He's using the metaphor of the intake of bread now to the intake of body and blood. But the context is believing.
I want you to compare two verses with me. Compare Verse 54, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. And I will raise him up at the last day", compare that with Verse 40, "this is the will of Him who sent me that everyone who sees the Son" that is, recognizes the Son, 'and believes in Him may have everlasting life. And I will raise him up at the last day."
So to eat his flesh and drink his blood is the appositional truth, or the equivalent of, believing in Him. He's just making it raw and real to get their attention. To this group of people who can't take blood under any circumstances, but he is speaking metaphorically. It's figurative. He even says so.
His main point is this, true life comes through death. True life comes through death. And it's my death. I'm going to give sacrificially my death. I'm going to break my body. I'm going to spill my blood. And you have to see, recognize, and believe in the one who was sent.
Verse 60, let's finish this up. "Therefore, many of his disciples, when they heard this, said 'This a hard saying.'"
I'm glad that's there. I'm glad Jesus, I'm glad I'm not the only one that gets stuff like this. That was hard.
"'This is a hard saying. Who can understand it?' When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said, 'Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where he was before? It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit. And they are life."
"This is a hard saying." The word "hard" is the Greek word "scleros." "Scleros," it means stiff, rough. Some of you have heard of arterial sclerosis. Hear that word "scleros" in there? It's a hardening of the arteries? If your doctor says you have arterial sclerosis, it means you've lost elasticity in your arteries. They're getting clogged up. And they're getting hard.
When it's used here, it doesn't mean it's hard to understand. It means it's hard to tolerate. I don't like Jesus' preaching. It's a hard, difficult-to-tolerate teaching.
There are some truths in the Bible that are just easy to tolerate, wonderful truths. When you speak about heaven, I love preaching about heaven. I got to do this last Sunday. It's a wonderful thing to teach about. Or God's comfort to the suffering, love to teach on that. God's grace, love to teach on that.
But then there are other things are hard truths to hear. Hell is one of them. False teachings, false prophets, false doctrines, all of those are difficult subjects to speak about. Jesus was saying some pretty difficult stuff to this group.
By the way, Jesus often said hard things. Jesus didn't always smile at people and pat little children on the head and people walked away always feeling that they're exploring their best self. He said hard things.
To the woman at the well, he said, you're right. You're not married. You've been living with a guy. And you've had four husbands before him. Now, you're living with a guy who isn't your husband. Jesus said in Matthew 23, "You scribes, you Pharisees, you hypocrites, every time you convert somebody to your way of life, you're making them a two-fold child of hell more than yourself." That's a tough sermon. Nobody's taking notes on that.
And this is another one. It's hard to understand. Or not hard to understand, but tolerate.
"But there are some among you, some of you who do not believe, Verse 64, "for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe." You and I don't know that. You don't know who's sitting in here who really does not believe or who does believe. He does. The Bible says He knows those who are His.
"Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who would betray Him. And he said, 'Therefore, I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father. From that time on, many of his disciples went back and walked with Him no more."
A startling statement. His disciples. Just because it's his disciple, "mathetes" is the word used in the original language. It means a learner, a follower, in the most generic sense. It doesn't tell you anything or doesn't imply motive, doesn't imply level of devotion, or commitment. It's just "follower." It could be any kind of a follower. It could be a food follower like these guys.
So the Pharisees had mathetes, followers, disciples. John the Baptist had disciples. Jesus had disciples. Some of them were authentic. Many of them were not. And Jesus knew the difference. Boy, can you imagine him looking as over, knowing everything about us and loving us anyway, trying to draw us to Himself in the fullest possible? Like Judas, He knew Judas would betray Him, but he seeded Judas next to him at the Last Supper. That's love, reaching out, loving us anyway. "Jesus said to the 12, 'Do you also want to go away?' Simon Peter answered him. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'"
I am so glad that Peter answered this question. You know why I am glad? Because Peter always gets the bad rap, from preachers especially. I think there's going to be a long line of preachers in heaven waiting to tell Peter how sorry they are for all the bad things they said about him in their sermons. And I'm going to be in that line. Peter's a guy who got the answer right. It says right in Phillipi, "'Who do you say that I am?' 'You're the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Bingo! "'My God, my Father revealed this to you."
And Peter said, I love it. It's the heart of a true disciple. Where else are we going to go? Like in the song that we sing, nothing and no one can ever compare. "'You alone have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and we know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" "Jesus answered them, 'Did I not choose you, the 12? And one of you is a devil.' He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it is he who would betray Him being one of the 12."
As we close tonight, here's something to consider. What is it, what experience could happen in your life, what bad event could turn up for you that would cause you to turn away from Him? I think it's a fair question. I've seen a lot of people that I once used to see in fellowship serving the Lord, walking with the Lord in fellowship here, hands raised, reading the Bible.
But something happened. And the expectations that they had weren't met. They're bitter at God. And they take their ball, and they go away. What is it that could ever cause you to say I'm done? I hope your answer is like Peter's. Where else are you're going to go? My life before I met Jesus was so flat and so dull and so insipid. Oh, there were moments of fun. They did not last. And I was always emptier afterwards. Man, I've got bread. I've got water that quenches my thirst and quenches my hunger. I never had that before. Do you know Him? Do you know Him? Are you His?
Father, as we conclude this message, this intriguing and very difficult to hear message for those in the crowd that day, even some of these disciples who decided, I'm done being a disciple, that's just one thing too many. It's one hard thing to hear too many. That's one experience too many. I'm done. Lord, it reveals that the true heart of people, those disciples that walked away were never truly converted. And Jesus sifted them out by these hard messages. But Father, we want to pray for anyone who has come to a crossroads, a decision, in their own life. They've considered Christ. They've heard their friends or relatives, fiance, husband, wife, children, parents, tell them about Jesus. They're here in this place, in this setting. But for them, it's not personal, neither is it real. It could be that. You're drawing them. They're here not by accident. Lord, as you invite, as you call, I pray there would be a response and we would see by that response that it's just proof that you have called them from eternity past, before the foundations of the Earth. And we're just seeing it realized tonight.
As our heads are bowed, as our eyes are closed, as you're thinking about your life, some of you maybe you've followed Him once or you thought you did, you turned away from Him, whatever experience, whatever busyness, the truth is, you're just not following Jesus tonight. And you know it's true. For others of you, you have watched from a distance. You've politely attended church with people who've brought you here. But you haven't made the commitment yourself. I'm asking you to make the commitment. Yes, I am asking you to make that commitment tonight. As even the Apostle Paul said, we implore you, we beseech you to do so.
Moreover, God is calling you because He loves you. He wants to forgive you. He wants to give you a bread that will take away your hunger, a water that will satisfy your thirst. He wants to quench the thirst that you know you live with every single day. And no experience in this life has been able to give that you.
You have to be willing to give your life to Him though. You have to be willing to cooperate with that love for you and that calling on you. And if you are willing here to say yes to Jesus, while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, mine will be open so I can acknowledge you and pray for you. I need to know who I am praying for though. So I'm going to ask you, if you are willing to give your life to Christ or come back to Him, you raise your hand up in the air. Raise it up high so I can see your hand. And I'll pray for you.
God bless you and you, right there in the middle on my left. Anybody else? Over here to my left. Anyone else? A couple of you in the back. Lights are out, so I can't see you. But I think I see a couple hands. Anyone else? Raise it up high. Unashamedly, say yes to Jesus. Come to Him. Come to Him. Let Him love you and forgive you. Anybody else? Right here. Excuse me, right up here in the front, front row.
Father, thank you. We are witnessing truly miraculous transformation because it doesn't come by the will of man or by the will of the flesh, but they have to be born of God. And we're seeing that before our eyes. We pray for these men and women. Strengthen them. Give them your peace. Let them be assured that their sins are forgiven and that they're a new person in Jesus. It's in His name we pray. Amen.
Let's all stand to our feet. Somebody told me this week, why do you say "stand to your feet? There's no other way to stand." And I thought, well, that's an interesting statement or thing to observe. But I suppose you could stand on your hands. But anyway, I don't even know why I'm talking about this. But you've stood. So if you raised your hand like you did just a moment ago, we're going to sing a final song. And I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands, that I prayed for you, I'm going to ask you to find the nearest aisle, step into it, and come right up here to the front.
Just stand up in the front. I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now, right here, to receive Jesus as your Savior. You're going to make it personal. You're going to make it your own right now. You come as we sing. We're going to wait for you. If you're in the middle of an aisle, the middle of the row, just say excuse me. If you're in the back or balcony, I didn't see everybody's hand because of the lighting. But we're just going to give it another sing through. Maybe you didn't raise your hand. Whatever.
But the Lord's been working on you a long time. You've just gotten really good at saying no to Him. I just I'm praying you lose the wrestling match tonight. That you'll lose that match. You just say yes to Him. He will forgive you of your sin. He will cleanse you of all your unrighteousness. All of your past will be wiped away in His registry book. You will be a new creation in Christ Jesus. You come to him. Anyone else? We'll sing at one time through.
That's so good. God love you. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to asked you to say these words, pray this prayer after me. I want you to say it out loud. OK? And you're saying it to Him. We're all here to witness it. Like a beautiful marriage, we're able to watch you do this, this transaction between heaven and Earth. So I'll say it out loud. You pray it out loud after me. Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ that he came from heaven to Earth, that he died on a cross, that he shed his blood for me, that he rose from the dead. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. And my Lord. In his name, I pray. Amen.