I Am Who I Am: “The Bread of Life” [Part One] John 6:30-36

 

This morning we begin a seven-part series on the great, “I Am’s,found only in the gospel of John.  In this series, we’ll examine, not what others said about the Lord, but what He said about Himself.

Liberal scholars would have us believe that Jesus never said He was God.  It’s their contention that Jesus intentionally skirted the issue of His deity by always pointing to His Heavenly Father.  And that much is true.  He did!  On numerous occasions, Jesus said: “I can do nothing on My own initiative” [John 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10].

However, even a cursory reading of the New Testament proves without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus IS the Son of God!  He IS the Christ!  Although He preferred to use the title, “Son of Man”.  After all, He came to us as One of us.

But, it’s not just John who upholds Jesus’ deity.  The Synoptic gospels also validate this assertion.  For example, when Jesus and His disciples traveled to the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”   They responded by saying some believed He was John the Baptist, or Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets of Old.  Jesus then asked, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter immediately responded by declaring, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-20].  In each account, the Lord prohibited them from revealing this to anyone.  Not because He was denying this truth, but because this disclosure would be made known in God’s appointed time; not man’s.

As we begin this series, “I AM WHO I AM,let’s consider where this phrase originates.  You will find it in the Book of Exodus where God spoke to His servant Moses on Mount Horeb.  Amidst the burning bush, God commanded Moses to lead His people Israel out of their bondage in Egypt.  Whereupon Moses asked, “And what shall I say to the sons of Israel if they should ask, ‘Who has sent me to you, and what is His name?’  And God said, “I AM WHO I AM” [Exodus 3:24].    

The first of these seven “I Am’s” is when Jesus proclaims Himself to be the “Bread of Life”.  Rather ironic since Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, David’s hometown, which in Hebrew means, ‘house of bread.’

In this passage, we read that: PEOPLE WERE ASKING FOR SIGNS AND WONDERS (repeat).

Soon after feeding the five thousand, people asked: “…what sign do You do, that we may see and believe You?  What work do You perform?”  One would think after having fed as many as fifteen thousand people, this would be proof enough that Jesus was, at the very least, a miracle worker called of God.  The head count was based on the number of men present.  But because there were many families with children, the actual count was much greater.

Jesus provided enough food for everyone from just two fish and five barley loaves from a young boy’s lunch.  And after everyone had eaten, twelve baskets were retrieved.  But apparently this miracle did not satisfy their hunger for more!  Their stomachs had been full, but then all too soon, they were hungry and thirsting again!

The Jewish people were clamoring for signs and wonders from God above.  After all, three hundred and fifty years had passed since the last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi.  During this long dry spell, not a prophetic word was spoken, nor had a single miracle occurred.  God’s people were starving.  Their mouths were parched for spiritual food to ingest.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were also demanding a sign [Matthew 12:38; 16:1-3].  Provoked by this, Jesus replied: “An evil and adulteress generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the Prophet Jonah.”  On another occasion, the Pharisees and Sadducees demanded a sign be given them from heaven above.  Whereupon Jesus said to them: “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’  Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.’”

Cannot the same be said of us, today?  Are we so very different?  For us to believe, we expect to have something tangible!  Something we can lay hold of.  It matters little to us what God did thousands of years ago.  No!  Inquiring minds want to know what God can do for us…NOW!

Our spiritual condition is not unlike the ad appeared for Wendy’s years ago that showed a cute little old lady asking, “Where’s the beef?”  Yes, many of us have a ‘beef’ with God!  We want proof!  Something we can see with our own eyes.

But, need I remind you that proof is ‘in the eye of the beholder’.  Alistair Begg commented: “…for the skeptic no proof is possible, and for the believer no proof is necessary.” [1]

But, in addition to asking for signs, the people in Jesus’ day had another problem: THEY ATTRIBUTED HEAVENLY GIFTS TO EARTHLY SOURCES (verse 32)

Days following the feeding of the five thousand, many were standing on the shoreline wondering how Jesus had traveled across the water since He did not arrive by boat with His disciples.

They then began comparing Moses, the Lawgiver, to this Nazarene.  They retorted: “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; for as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  They believed that Moses had provided the manna from heaven for their forefathers while wandering in the desert for forty years.  A miracle of miracles to be sure!  A miraculous feat when compared to feeding a few thousand for just one day.  They clearly inferred that Moses’ miracle was far mightier than what the Lord had done!

But, for them to compare Moses to the Person of Jesus was woefully misguided!  Jesus explained to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.”  Jesus quotes from the psalmist who said: “Yet He commanded the clouds to open up the doors of heaven, and to rain down manna on them to eat, and gave them the ‘bread of heaven’; the food of angels’…” [Psalm 78:23-25].

One must never presume that Moses, or any mere mortal, could possibly provide for our daily sustenance.  No!  Only God, our Jehovah Jireh, can provide for what we need!

But even this miraculous feat in the desert only provided for their temporal needs.  Above all else, we must concern ourselves with matters of eternal consequence.  Which points to yet another dilemma [that]: PEOPLE ARE SHORT-SIGHTED (TEMPORAL VS. ETERNAL)

Jesus, pointing out their short-sightedness, said: “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  Did you happen to catch the use of the third-person pronoun, “HE”.  The ‘Bread of Life’ is not an ‘it’.  It’s not just an entity.  It is a Person.  The Bread of Life, which God provides, is none other than His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ!

In response to this, the people exclaimed: “Sir, give us this bread always.”  A bread that will not just sustain us temporarily, but the bread which will always satisfy our hunger.  Notice, too, that the people addressed Jesus as ‘Sir,’ a polite salutation, but of far less importance than that of ‘Lord’ suggesting their uncertainty as to who they were addressing.

At this point, the Lord could simply have walked away in disgust and resignation.  He could have disregarded these people like scraps of stale bread.  But, He did not!  Instead, Jesus makes this startling declaration: “I Am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”

Jesus went on to say, All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”  Put simply, Jesus never discards people.  He will always leave the door open for us to come to Him.  And come to Him we must.  That is, if we desire to eat of the ‘Bread of Life.’!

Jesus reminded us that we should hunger and thirst after righteousness.  We must seek the One who can give us spiritual food.  Nourishment which will not only sustain us in this life, but which will replenish our souls for all eternity!

Speaking of short-sightedness, a woman was returning a pair of prescription eyeglasses that her husband had purchased a week earlier.  The store clerk asked: “What seems to be the problem, madam?”  She curtly replied: “I’m returning my husband’s glasses because he still refuses to see things my way!”

This so clearly illustrates our human condition.  The same affliction which plagued those by the seashore that day so long ago.  Even if you are blessed with 20/20 vision, you still might be ‘short-sighted’!  We like to see things our way!  Not His way!

There’s a lovely spiritual song by Don Moen which best explains what I mean: “God will make a way where there seems to be no way.  He works in ways we cannot see; He will make a way for me…”     

Yes, God sees through our blindness.  He looks beyond our present afflictions.  So, stay tuned.  Because next week we’ll discover more about our Lord as He opens our eyes to see Him as: ‘The Light of the World’!  

Let us pray…

[1]     Alistair Begg,  What Angels Wish They Knew: The Basics of  True Christianity  (Chicago: Moody Publishers,  1998)  pg. 31

 

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