Jesus, The Bread of Life.
Read John 6:22-42.
We see what we want to see. Unfortunately, what we see is commonly determined
by our interests at the moment, not by the obvious which stares at us. As a
result, we often search for something that is not there, and are completely
oblivious to what is in plain view right in front of us.
Let me set a little background for the reading. Jesus took the 12 to the
uninhabited side of the sea of Galilee. Mark 6 states Jesus made this trip with
the intent of providing all 13 of them with some rest. Jesus had become so
popular it was hard for him to find time to eat. The 12 had successfully
completed a mission which both elated them and exhausted them
Thousands of people recognized them and went by foot to where Jesus and the
12 went by boat. In Mark, this huge group of people are described as sheep
without a shepherd, and Jesus had compassion on these thousands of people. He
spent a day planned for rest teaching and healing these thousands.
Late in the day, Jesus told the 12 disciples to fed the group. The 12 were
astounded, and replied, "Two hundred days wages would not be enough to buy food
for this group!" Jesus then with very little food fed the huge group all they
wanted to eat, and he did it in a very orderly manner.
At dusk he told the 12 to go back across the sea of Galilee while he stayed
and prayed on the mountain alone. It was that evening Jesus walked on the sea to
them in windy, wavy conditions.
- Now let me focus your attention on what happened in our reading.
- The people Jesus fed woke up the next morning knowing the 12 had left by
boat but that Jesus had stayed.
- Yet, they could not find Jesus, and they were hungry again.
- They were totally confused as they tried to understand what had
- Around that time small boats began to arrive at this uninhabited area.
- Many decided they should take the boats, go to Capernaum, and see if
they could find Jesus.
- He obviously was not there, so the only option they had was to look
for Jesus on the other side.
- They found Jesus on the other side.
- Their first question, "Rabbi (teacher), what did you get here?"
- Jesus' response: "You look for me for the wrong reason."
- "You are here because you are hungry."
- "You are not here because you understand I have something to teach
you about God and eternal life."
- "Do not work for food which rots in a short time; seek eternal life
- Their second question: "What should we do to do God's work?"
- These were people who lived in a religious nation devoted to God
their entire lives.
- These were people who went to the synagogue every Sabbath (that is
what you did on Saturday if you lived in Israel).
- These were people who had heard God's laws discussed since birth.
- Yet they asked, "What are we supposed to do?" (Sounds too much like
- Jesus' answer, "Put your faith in God and me--that is God's work!"
- Their third question: "If we are to place our confidence in you, you
need to give us a sign. What are you going to do?"
- (I smell manipulation coming on!)
- They even had the sign they wanted him to do: "Our forefathers ate
manna in the wilderness when they left Egypt--Moses gave them bread out
of heaven (and gained their confidence).
- Jesus replied, "You need to get your facts straight!"
- Moses did not give them bread out of heaven.
- God gave them bread out of heaven.
- When God gives bread, God's bread gives life.
- The incident they are trying to use to manipulate Jesus into feeding them
is recorded in Exodus 16.
- The Israelites spent about 2 months in the wilderness traveling to Sinai
where they would receive the Ten Commandments.
- They are not to Sinai, but they are quite close.
- They begin to complain, "We wish we had died in Egypt where we had
meat to eat and could eat bread until we were full. Moses, the only reason
you had for bringing us out here in the wilderness was to kill us."
- God said to Moses, "I am going to give them what they want, and I am
going to do it in a way to will reveal if they trust me."
- "I am going to send them bread."
- "But Sunday through Thursday they can gather only one day's supply."
- "On Friday they will gather two days' supply."
- "If Sunday through Thursday they gather more than one day's supply,
it will rot, stink, and will not be eatable."
- "But the two days' supply they gather on Friday will not spoil; it
will still be good to eat on the Sabbath."
- "I will prove again to them that I am God."
- "At night they will have all the meat they want in the quail I
- "In the morning they will have all the bread they want to eat in the
manna I send."
- Early in the morning, around the camp, a heavy dew fell.
- When the dew dried up, it left a fine flaky substance that looked like
- When the sun got hot, it melted the manna.
- Note: God provided the manna, but the Israelites had to gather it.
- The only description of how it tasted was it was like honey wafers.
- Honey wafers was not the common food of slaves!
- Yet, Israel was to have honey wafers every morning.
- While they were unfamiliar with manna, they knew bread did not come
- The first morning manna appeared, Israelites asked, "What is that?"
- Moses replied, "It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat."
- To hear the giving of manna from the perspective of Israelites in John 6,
Moses give Israel manna, and Israel exerted little or no effort to eat it.
- From their perspective, I hear them trying to manipulate Jesus by
saying, "Now it is your turn! If we are to believe in you, show us
- "Give us this bread that gives life!"
- "We are hungry (physically), and it would be wonderful never to be
hungry (physically) again.
- Listen carefully to Jesus' response.
- "I am that bread God sent."
- "I am the solution to hunger and thirst."
- "I am the one who can give you life."
- "The problem: you do not believe in me."
- "Everything God will send to people He will send through me."
- "I will not lose those who come to me; I will resurrect them."
- "Eternal life is believing in me and my power to resurrect."
- I want you to pay careful attention to something.
- They did not say, "Look at what he did for us; he must be who he says
- "We better listen to him!"
- Instead, they grumbled.
- "He says he is the bread--that is not what we want!"
- "We know who he is and where he came from--how can he possibly say
he is from heaven!"
- They only saw what they wanted, not what was!
- Warning: Do not try to manipulate God.
- God's primary purpose is not about the physical but about the eternal.
- Do not be so focused on physical expectations and desires that you do
not see eternal realities!
- Do not be obsessed with what you want; be obsessed with what God wants.
Money is not permanent.
Sex is not permanent.
Lifestyle is not permanent.
Prestige is not permanent.
Only Jesus' resurrection is permanent.
May God grant us the "eyes" to "see" the permanent. May we not seek to
manipulate God, but seek to surrender to God and His purposes.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening sermon, 20 November 2005
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Writings of David Chadwell