The Bread That Gives Life
The next day began with a mystery: how did Jesus get to Capernaum?
The crowd saw the disciples embark to go across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, and then the men were lost in the storm. The crowd also saw Jesus leave the place and go by Himself to a mountain. But the next morning, here were Jesus and His disciples together in Capernaum! Certainly He had not walked around the lake, and there was no evidence that He had taken another boat. Other boats had arrived, no doubt driven in by the storm; but Jesus had not been in any of them.
No doubt some of the people who had been fed simply went away to their homes, while others stayed to see what Jesus would do next. Our Lord’s sermon probably began outdoors, and then the discussion moved into the synagogue (John 6:59).
“When this crowd could not find Him or His disciples, they boarded their small boats and crossed the sea to Capernaum looking for Him. When they found Jesus across the sea, they questioned Him.
Crowd: Teacher, when did You arrive at Capernaum?
Jesus: I tell you the truth—you are tracking Me down because I fed you, not because you saw signs from God.”
John 6:24-26 (VOICE)
They were seeking the Lord, which was the right thing to do, but they were doing it for the wrong reason.
Just the day before, these same people had tried to take Him by force and make Him their king, but He withdrew and spent the night in prayer. Jesus was never moved by flattery, and He said that those who were could not operate in God’s kind of faith (John 5:44).
This crowd looked like they were seeking Jesus, but they were actually trying to use Jesus to seek their own welfare. It is true that there are many personal benefits to be reaped through serving the Lord, but the benefits are never to become our object. In all things, Christ must have the pre-eminence (Colossians 1:18).
Jesus exposed the true intent of these people’s hearts by preaching a strong message of commitment. Those who were self-centered were offended and left (John 6:66), while those who were willing to lay down their lives so that they could experience God’s abundant life (Luke 9:24 and John 10:10) remained (John 6:68). Commitment to God Himself (not what He can produce) is what always separates the true worshipers of God from the false.
These people had no true commitment to God but wanted Jesus as their king for their own selfish reasons. They had mistakenly interpreted the miracle that Jesus performed in feeding the 5,000 to mean that Jesus would supply all their lusts (James 4:3). On the surface, it may have looked like they were seeking Jesus, but they were actually seeking their own interests. Jesus didn’t come to do His own will (John 6:38) or our wills, but the will of the Father.
Once again Jesus reveals that the motives behind our actions are more important than the actions themselves. If we desire the Lord just because of what He can do for us, then we are no better than these people were. We should certainly take advantage of all the good things the Lord provides (Psalms 35:27), but we must always love Him for who He is and not just what He provides.
We see Jesus did something that very few ministers of the Gospel will do today. He preached a hard message of commitment, knowing that many of these people would follow Him no more. Many times, we see Christians today compromise the message in an effort to win more people. Regardless of how well ministers can argue this point and justify their actions, this is not the way that Jesus ministered. Jesus was always more interested in quality than quantity. We would do well to follow His example.
Do Not Work For Food That Spoils
“Don’t spend your life chasing food that spoils and rots. Instead, seek the food that lasts into all the ages and comes from the Son of Man, the One on whom God the Father has placed His seal.”
John 6:27 (VOICE)
Jesus pointed out that there are two kinds of food:
- Food for the body, which is necessary but not the most important; and
- Food for the inner man, the spirit, which is essential.
What the people needed was not food but life, and life is a gift. Food only sustains life, but Jesus gives eternal life. The words of Isaiah 55:2 come to mind:
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?”
“They then said, What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God? [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?] “
John 6:28 (AMP)
This is a good question, which Jesus answers in the next verse. Most people are looking for some good work to do, but Jesus reveals that what He wants is faith.
So many times I have said to the Lord,
“Father, what do You want me to do? If You will just show me what to do, I will gladly do it.”
All throughout history, mankind has been seeking what they must do to do the works of God. All people have knowledge within them of the reality of God (Romans 1:18-20) and a desire to be right with Him. However, just as with these Jews, few agree with the Lord as to how to do it. These Jews were willing to do something to obtain salvation, but they were not willing to commit themselves to Jesus and accept His gift.
This is one of the major differences between Christianity and the religions of the world. Religion is willing to make sacrifices to obtain right standing with God, but Christianity recognizes our complete inability to ever do enough to save ourselves and calls for total faith and reliance on what Jesus did for us.
As Jesus began to explain to them in these verses how He was the only way to the Father (John 14:6) and that they would have to come through Him, the people grew angry. It always angers the flesh to think that all our righteous acts can’t save us, but Jesus made it clear that our only part in salvation is to believe.
Believe on Jesus and His sacrifice, not ours. Salvation is a gift and cannot be purchased (Romans 10:2-3).
“Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]. “
John 6:29 (AMP)
Belief is what the Lord desires from us, and it has to be the root of all our actions (Hebrews 11:6). Proper action without faith as the motive is just legalism.
You and I think we are supposed to be achievers, and we are. But the way we achieve is to first believe. That frees us from worry and reasoning and enables us to live victorious, blessed lives. God has works for us to do, but faith must come first and works will follow. When done in faith, works are easy and God gets the credit instead of us. Faith without works is dead, but we must be careful not to get “the cart before the horse.” When we do that, we struggle and make every effort, yet we see no progress. We are called “believers,” not “achievers.” Our first and foremost work is always to believe!
“Crowd: Can You show us a miraculous sign? Something spectacular? If we see something like that, it will help us to believe.”
John 6:30 (VOICE)
The crowd began by seeking Christ, but then started to seek a sign from Him. “For the Jews require a sign” (1 Cor. 1:22). The rabbis taught that, when Messiah came, He would duplicate the miracle of the manna (see Ex. 16). If Jesus was truly sent by God (see John 6:29, 38, 57), then let Him prove it by causing manna to fall from heaven. They wanted to “see and believe.” But faith that is based on signs alone, and not on the truth of the Word, can lead a person astray; for even Satan is able to perform “lying wonders” (2 Thes. 2:8-10).
“Our fathers ate manna when they wandered in the desert. The Hebrew Scriptures say, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
John 6:31 (VOICE)
In His reply, our Lord sought to deepen the people’s understanding of the truth. It was God, not Moses, who gave the manna; so they must take their eyes off Moses and focus them on God. Also, God gave the manna in the past, but the Father is now giving the true bread in the person of Jesus Christ. The past event is finished, but the present spiritual experience goes on!
Jesus: I tell you the truth: Moses did not give you bread from heaven; it is My Father who offers you true bread from heaven.
John 6:32 (VOICE)
Then Jesus clearly identified what the bread is: He is the true Living Bread that came down from heaven. But He came, not only for Israel but also for the whole world. And He came, not just to sustain life, but also to give life! Seven times in this sermon, our Lord referred to His “coming down from heaven”;
- The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Jn 6:33
- For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. Jn 6:38
- Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Jn. 6:41
- They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” Jn. 6:42
- Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. Jn. 6:50
- I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh. Jn. 6:51
- I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” Jn. 6:58
A statement that declared Him to be God. The Old Testament manna was but a type of the “true bread,” the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For the Bread of God is He Who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.
Then they said to Him, Lord, give us this bread always (all the time)!
John 6:33-34 (AMP)
This dialogue began with the crowd seeking Christ and then seeking a sign, but listeners soon began to seek the “true bread” that Jesus talked about. However, like the woman of Samaria, they were not ready for salvation (see John 4:15). She wanted the living water so she would not have to keep going to the well. The crowd wanted the bread so they would not have to toil to maintain life. People today still want Jesus Christ only for the benefits He is able to give.
In His reply to their impetuous request, Jesus used two key words that often appear in this sermon: come and believe. To come to Jesus means to believe on Him, and to believe on Him means to come to Him. Believing is not merely an intellectual thing, giving mental assent to some doctrine. It means to come to Christ and yield you to Him. At the close of His sermon, Jesus illustrated coming and believing by speaking about eating and drinking. To come to Christ and believe on Him means to receive Him within, just as you receive food and drink.
Jesus: I am the bread that gives life. If you come to My table and eat, you will never go hungry. Believe in Me, and you will never go thirsty. Here I am standing in front of you, and still you don’t believe. All that My Father gives to Me comes to Me. I will receive everyone; I will not send away anyone who comes to Me. And here’s the reason: I have come down from heaven not to pursue My own agenda but to do what He desires. I am here on behalf of the Father who sent Me. He sent Me to care for all He has given Me so that nothing and no one will perish. In the end, on the last day, He wants everything to be resurrected into new life.
John 6:35-39 (VOICE)
Once we come to Jesus, He said we would never hunger or thirst again (John 4:14). This has to be speaking in a spiritual sense.
So, why do so many Christians talk and sing about their hunger and thirst for God?
If they are speaking of a passion for God, then I can understand.
But the popular song “Breathe,” with its “I’m desperate for You” lyrics, uses these terms to describe a negative emotional state that shouldn’t exist after a person is born again.
The word “desperate” means “reckless or violent because of despair…nearly hopeless; critical…extreme; great: a desperate urge” (American Heritage Dictionary). The Houghton Mifflin American Heritage Electronic Dictionary gives synonyms for “desperate” as
- Extreme in degree, strength, or effect. Terrible, intense, violent, fierce, vehement.
- Having lost all hope. Hopeless, forlorn, despondent, despairing.
- So serious as to be at the point of crisis. Critical, crucial, acute, dire, climacteric, exigent.”
I believe we are supposed to love God with all our hearts, and therefore, I can understand those who long for and desire God with all of their hearts. But I think most of the people I hear singing about being hungry and desperate for God are moaning and groaning because they aren’t taking advantage of the union and fellowship available to us all through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, that type of hunger and thirst is caused by our ignorance or unbelief. Those who come to Jesus should never be desperate or despondent again. They have the living water right on the inside of them (John 7:37-39). All they have to do is take a drink anytime they want.
For this is My Father’s will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.
John 6:40 (AMP)
This is a good example of how to interpret Scripture.
Is Jesus saying that we have to physically see Him with our natural eyes to be saved?
Certainly not. That would mean no one could have been saved after He ascended back into heaven. This is speaking of our spiritual eyes. We have to see in the sense that we understand His substitution for us and believe that.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
I do not waste effort trying to produce food that perishes, but strive to produce the food that endures unto eternal life. Jesus has given me plentiful provision of such food out of his abundance.
All of that is required for me to habitually do the works of God is to believe in Jesus with a steadfast and unshakable trust, for belief is the channel that brings all of Gods blessings into my life.
Jesus is the Bread of Life to me. I cling to Him with all of my heart. Because of Him, I will never hunger or thirst again.
My heavenly Father has entrusted my eternal security to Jesus. I have turned to Him and pledge my endless devotion. He has given me His Word that He will find absolutely no reason to reject me. Because I have come to Him and have given Him my life, I never have need to fear again.
Jesus continually does the will of the Father on my behalf.
This is the Fathers will: that I should never be lost again.
I have been given new life and shall be raised up on the Last Day.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd of my life. He will not allow me to stray from the flock to be devoured by the wolves.
I am now a child of God. I believe in Jesus with all of my heart. The security of my eternal life rests in His mighty power to see me through.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name, Amen.