Articles

The Living Bread from Heaven (John 6)

John 6:1-15

1After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

  • Where we pick up the story, Christ has already been rejected in Judea.
  • He is now in Galillee and will be rejected here.
  • He has already performed many signs and wonders. Belief is unacceptable.
  • A crowd gathers and Christ commands Philip to get them something to eat.
  • Philip performs a calculation that it will take about a year’s salary to feed them.
  • Christ provides not according to human calculation but by His own power. A lesson that His Apostles ought to know by now.
  • He feeds the multitude and they are excited.
  • The people correctly perceive that Christ is the Prophet that Moses foretold in Deut 18.
  • They incorrectly perceive the mission of that Prophet and Messiah.
  • They desire to make Him their King.
  • They expect, by their understanding, that the Messiah will kick out the Romans and usher in a golden age.
  • They are ready to make Christ their King by force according to their expectation that Christ will be a political conqueror and usher in goodness and plenty for their physical lives.
  • Christ withdraws, as He does so often, because He refuses to be the kind of Messiah that men expect and will only be the kind of Messiah that they need.

John 6:16-21

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened.20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

    • Much could be said here.
    • I want you to hear this portion so we don’t lose the flow of the account.
    • It’s enough to note that Christ and His disciples were now in Capernaum the next day.

John 6:22-27

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

    • The people noticed Christ was no longer in the place where they had their bellies filled.
    • They went to Capernaum seeking Jesus.
    • Notice that Christ has thousands of followers Who are excited about them.
    • One might think He’s going to do everything in His power to keep them as followers.
    • Instead He rebukes them.
    • He identifies that their motivation for following Him is that He gave them bread to fill their stomachs.
    • He instructs them that they’re seeking the wrong thing from Him.
    • Christ is in their midst to give them eternal life and they only want enough food to make it through the day.
    • He’s calling them to faith and repentance.
    • Do they understand Him?
    • No.

 

John 6:28-34

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

    • There appears to be eagerness to follow Christ and “do the works of God.”
    • Christ answers them that it is not their works that is critical.
    • It is the work of God that they need.
    • The work of God is that they would believe in Christ Whom the Father sent.
    • Do they understand?
    • No. They challenge him for a sign. They challenge Him to show more works.
    • The heart of idolatry is always more interested in the effects of a living God.
    • What the heart of idolatry does not desire is to truly worship the living God.
    • They call Christ’s attention to the provision of Manna in the desert.
    • Interestingly, they are on to something here because Christ’s provision here is John 6 is much like the provision of manna in the desert.
    • But the thing they miss is that they’re always interested in stopping at the sign.
    • They cannot perceive what the manna pointed to.
    • They cannot perceive what Christ’s provision of bread pointed to.
    • Christ is the true bread of heaven.
    • Everything important is standing in front of them.
    • Everything that manna and bread signified is fulfilled in their midst.
    • Do they understand?
    • No. They want the sign. They want bread.

 

John 6:35-42

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’?”

    • Christ now tells them plainly what the bread has signified.
    • It has pointed to Him.
    • He has come in power and majesty.
    • He has plainly performed signs and wonders before their eyes to testify of His authority.
    • He has come down from heaven to give eternal life.
    • He has come to satisfy their hunger forever by His provision.
    • He has come to satisfy their thirst forever by His provision.
    • All who come to Him in faith will possess eternal life through His provision.
    • Yet it is not of man’s own doing that they will come to Him.
    • As we’ve already seen, the fleshly mind is in slavery to sin.
    • It can only perceive earthly things. It can only perceive concerns of itself and the world.
    • The Father must give people to Christ that they might come to Him.
    • Supernatural work is needed for the people to come to Christ.
    • And as surely as they come, the Son receives and holds on to all of them.
    • None shall be lost.
    • All who come to Him will be raised again with Him on the last day.
    • Do the Jews understand?
    • Do they perceive?
    • No.
    • Why?
    • Because the Father has not given them to the Son.
    • They are still stumbling in the blindness of sin in Adam.
    • So blind are they that they grumble before the living God as their forefathers grumbled in the desert.
    • They rebuke and ridicule Christ for saying that He is the bread come down from heaven.
    • Again, all their understanding is wrapped up in earthly things. This man is not bread.
    • This man is not from heaven.
    • We saw Him grow up in Nazareth.

 

John 6:43-52

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?”

  • Notice Christ’s response.
  • He is pointing out the blindness I just underlined.
  • He knows very well they cannot perceive spiritual things.
  • He rebukes them for grumbling and again points out that the reason they are unable to perceive is that Father draws them to Christ.
  • Christ did not come to be understood according to the world’s understanding.
  • The world is captive to sin and its thinking is hostile to the mind of God.
  • God, by the power that created the world, needs to drag men into the Kingdom for they will never do so in their sinful state.
  • God, in His power, needs to conquer the sin that reigns men’s thinking that they may perceive Christ as the One sent by the Father.
  • And all who come by the Father’s power will be saved by the Son.
  • Christ reminds the people that they are just like their forefathers who could only perceive physical food in the desert.
  • The food fed them for the day but they all perished outside of the Promised land.
  • They perished because they never combined the food they received with the eyes of faith to look upon the Provider of that food.
  • Here, again, the true spiritual food that will give them eternal life is in their midst and they refuse to believe upon Him.
  • Christ tells them that He’s given His Body up for spiritual life.
  • His flesh will be that which provides the power for salvation.
  • All who look to His flesh, His sacrifice, for provision, will possess eternal life.
  • Do the Jews understand?
  • Do they perceive?
  • No.
  • They accuse Christ of cannibalism.
  • All they can understand is flesh.
  • All they can understand is bread.
  • How can a man give his flesh to eat?
  • He cannot according to the thinking of the world.

 

John 6:53-59

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 Capernaum.

    • Christ is not content to leave them unoffended.
    • He speaks again clearly of spiritual things they cannot perceive.
    • He does so in a way that confirms to the fleshly mind the worst possible thing.
    • All they can hear is flesh, blood, bread, drink.
    • Christ is offering Himself.
    • He is laying forth the mission of the Messiah to save by His body and blood.
    • All who look to Him will be saved.
    • The Passover is at hand and Christ is clearly alluding to the Passover flesh that signifies Him.
    • These same people will soon eat the flesh of a lamb that is a mere shadow of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
    • Yet, they will not perceive the sign as pointing to Him.
    • Every sign is a brute object to them and they cannot perceive when the glory which it signifies is standing in their very midst.
    • Very God of very God!
    • Veiled in human flesh.
    • Come down from heaven.
    • God in a Tabernacle among them.
    • The Bread of Life sent from heaven.
    • The true Manna.
    • The Serpent lifted on a pole.
    • The Lamb of God.
    • The True Prophet.
    • The True Priest.
    • The True King.
    • Completely lost on the mind of men in slavery to sin and death.
    • O, how much we need the Father to draw us!

John 6:60-71

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

  • Imagine Christ giving a Church growth seminar.
  • 5000 eager disciples and that’s only counting the men.
  • Give a powerful sermon about the nature of the Gospel.
  • Offend everyone so much that only a dozen are left.
  • But Christ is well aware of what He’s doing.
  • He’s said it before and He says again that only those that the Father draws can come to Him.
  • He wants disciples Who seek Him for the provision He has come to give.
  • He’s not a coach.
  • He’s not here for your best life now.
  • His words are exclusive and ugly to the sight of men.
  • He turns now to His inner circle.
  • It’s like He’s saying: “How do you like them apples?”
  • Do you want to leave too?
  • Imagine the gall?
  • These men have left their professions for Him.
  • He had called them to be fishers of men and now most of the followers are gone.
  • “Do you want to leave as well?”
  • Take the moment in for a second. It had to give the Apostles pause.
  • This is not success as the world measures it.
  • Peter doesn’t really say: “Of course we don’t want to leave.”
  • In his reply is the hint that this didn’t sit well with anyone.
  • The Holy God makes men uncomfortable.
  • But, Beloved, Peter’s reply is exactly what Christ was after!
  • “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
  • This is hard Jesus!
  • I don’t think I understand all of this stuff.
  • You’re a hard man to follow sometimes.
  • But to Whom shall we go?!
  • We believe!
  • We believe you are the Holy One sent from God!
  • We believe that you have words of eternal life.
  • Where else is there to go?!
  • Sure, the world is more comfortable.
  • It doesn’t challenge us.
  • It doesn’t require that we give up our ambitions.
  • It doesn’t require that we depend on anyone but ourselves.
  • It doesn’t require that we be ridiculed and mocked for following some stupid Carpenter who is barely educated and talks about men eating His flesh.
  • But if we think like that then we’ll have bread for today and hunger again.
  • Lord, YOU ALONE HAVE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE!
  • I don’t understand you Lord but I KNOW YOU.
  • I’ll trust you in what I don’t understand and follow you to the bitter end.
  • I’ll believe the promise of eternal life because I’ve come to believe that Your Word can be trusted.

 

  • This, beloved, is what it looks like when the Father draws a man to the Son.
  • It’s not the quality of the man’s understanding.
  • It’s not the quality of the man’s works.
  • It is the power of the Father to draw men unto the Son by the power of His Word.
  • The man wakes up and is convinced he understands the world and reality.
  • Men are men.
  • Bread is bread.
  • Blood is blood.
  • Then, suddenly, out of the blue, the Word of God comes like a mighty conqueror.
  • It pierces the heart of men.
  • It wakes them up.
  • The world that seemed rightside up is now upside down.
  • The Savior who seems a rejected and despised failure is seen for what He truly is.
  • O, may you know the power of the saving hand of the Father to draw you to the Son.
  • May you fall down at His feet and cry: “I don’t understand it all but I’ve come to believe you are the Holy One sent from God. You alone have the words of eternal life. Save me! May I feed on your flesh. May I drink your blood. Give me the spiritual nourishment I have been lacking as I have been stumbling blindly through this world.”
  • Such a request, the Son is delighted to grant.
  • He will lay hold of you with such a strong Hand that none can pluck you out.
  • He will save you today and, on that glorious day of His return in Judgment, will raise you again on the last day!
  • Let us pray.

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