The Bread of LifeIn John 6, a huge crowd is following Jesus excitedly, searching him out, because they want to see some signs. The Passover is happening, so people who have heard about his miracles are eager to see some. Those who've seen it before have been talking. Devout Jews are curious: Is he the Messiah? Pious Jews are furious. Early on in Chapter 6, Jesus is with his disciples after a long day of Festivities, and has compassion on the crowd by giving them dinner. They wanted a sign, and he gave them a doozy. The ones who saw it were determined to make him the king, and why wouldn't you? This is what you call a free lunch program. He can take a tiny amount of food and make it reach the masses. He can heal people – that’s free healthcare. He can turn water into the best wine anyone’s ever had, I mean, hello, I don’t see a problem with that. He’s not manipulated by the elite leaders of the day, he’s not afraid of confrontation... This would be the best king we’ve ever had! Tell us what to do, what works do we have to do? We’re all in. Where do we sign up?
Why do you follow Jesus?Jesus wants us to believe that he is the Son of God (John 6:35-40). His mission from the Father is that we would believe, and that he wouldn't lose anyone who the Father brings. For that reason, he wants the signs he does to point us to something greater, to the Father who sent him, to the abundant life we can have when we believe everything God says about him is true, but a lot of the time we just want bread. We say things like: "Make my problems go away, Lord. Just fix the problem with the neighbor so I don’t have to talk to them. Lord, fix that funny feeling in my arm so I don’t have to go to the doctor. Lord, fix that problem in my wife so I don’t have to learn how to love someone that doesn't always respond the way I hope. Make my life decent and take me to heaven when I die. Give me a new job or fire my boss so I don’t have to submit to him/her anymore." Now what we see in Jesus’ compassion in feeding the 5000 is that your physical experiences in life are important to him. Your circumstances are not lost on him, and he is not heartless toward your health, your job, your family, etc. He willingly provided for the 5000 even though he knew they would miss the sign.
Jesus didn’t come to give bread; he came to be bread. I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. This isn’t the first time God has provided bread for a large crowd. In Exodus 16, the people need food and God makes it rain bread from heaven, called Manna. There was a felt need by the people of Israel, they were hungry. Then God gave them as much as every one of them could eat. But here’s Jesus’ point: You can eat miracles from heaven all day long and still die. You can have the perfect job, the most conflict-free marriage, the best kids, perfect health, and more money than you know what to do with ––– and still die in your sins! If you want to experience real life, you need the bread of life. Jesus continues:  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.  So Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves.  The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day,  because my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate-and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever."  He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Telling people you’re going to die and they need to eat your body will thin out the crowds a little. You'll get some parking spaces freed up in a hurry.  From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him. Jesus started the story with 5000 people following him, and in verse 67, he turns to apparently all that’s left:  So Jesus said to the Twelve, "You don't want to go away too, do you?"  Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
What has your appetite?Peter has lost his appetite for anything else but the Bread of Life. Nothing else will bring eternal life. If you truly are the Messiah, which we believe you are, we have no appetite for anything else. Brisket is delicious, but it won’t keep me from dying. Manna, as miraculous as it was for the Israelites in the wilderness, didn’t keep them from dying. But just like literal bread that we receive into our bodies and the nutrients and physical life that is is for us, when we receive all that Jesus is for us, he is the true food that gives us life. And John 10:10 says that Jesus has come so we would have life, and have it in abundance! And so the invitation stands. For you, for me, every morning of our lives: Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the water; and you without silver, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without silver and without cost! The bread of life is free! -- Well, it’s free to you. The bread of life is the most expensive bread there is. The reason Isaiah 55:1 can say, "Come and buy, without money," is because Jesus the Son of God paid the price for your salvation by going through hell so that you wouldn't have to. So as we come to him in faith, believing that his finished work was on our behalf, we "ingest" our bloody Savior on the cross, nourished and saved by his work. I encourage you today, to eat and drink deeply of your Saviors life, death, and resurrection!
This post is an excerpt from a sermon preached February 23, 2020, by Pastor Rodney Gehman. Listen to the full sermon here: Bread of Life