The True Bread from Heaven | John 6:1-35
Brian Hedges | September 23, 2018
Well, this morning turn in your Bibles to the gospel of John, the sixth chapter; John chapter 6. The gospel of John is one of those parts of Scripture that has often been recommended to new believers or to seekers or even to people who are not believers in Christ but who are just beginning to investigate the claims of Christ, and it’s one of those places in Scripture that God has used many times to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed, this was the purpose for which John wrote his gospel. In John 20:31 he says, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
This is also one of the deepest books of Scripture. It’s often been said of Scripture that it’s such that a child can wade on its shores, but an elephant can swim in its depths, and that’s especially true of the gospel of John. I think it was John Calvin who said that while the other three gospels show us Christ’s body, the gospel of John shows us his soul, shows us the depths of who Jesus is.
Last year we began working through this gospel. We spend I think it was about 18 weeks or so working through chapters 1 through 5 in the gospel of John, and today we’re beginning a 12-week series, starting in chapter 6, and we’re going to work through chapters 6 through 10 together. This morning our passage will be John 6:1-35.
So, I want you to turn there in your Bibles, or you can follow along on the screen as we cover this passage of Scripture together. Let’s read God’s word.
“After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 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?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’ 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. 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. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!' 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. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 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. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. 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. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 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. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ 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. Do not work 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.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”’ 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. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ 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.’”
This is God’s word.
So as we look at this passage of Scripture, I want us to notice three things. I want us to, first of all, consider the signs that are recorded for us in these two miracles; and then, secondly, the hungry crowd, and how the crowd responds to Jesus, how they react to Jesus; and then, thirdly, we’ll focus on Jesus himself, the true Bread from heaven, and the things which he says to the crowd.
I. The Signs
So, first of all, let’s consider the signs.
There are two miracles recorded in these first 21 verses of John chapter 6. There is, first of all, of course, the feeding of the five thousand. This is the only miracle that is recorded in all four of the gospels. You have it also in Matthew chapter 14, Mark chapter 6, and Luke chapter 9. But some of the details we get only here, in John’s gospel. Only here do we get the names of the two disciples, Philip and Andrew, whom Jesus speaks with; only here do we discover that it was a boy that provided the five loaves and the two fishes, and only here do we find that the loaves were barley loaves, so, the poorest kind of fare. This was the staple diet of poor people, so it’s showing us that even these loaves and fishes were small. It was a small gift that Jesus then multiplied.
Then the second miracle you have here is Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm on the sea of Galilee. This episode directly follows the miracle of the loaves in both Matthew’s and in Mark’s narratives as well.
The key word for helping us understand these two miracles is the word “sign,” or the word “signs.” It’s used often in the gospel of John, but most of all in this chapter, in John chapter 6. You find it in verse 2, in verse 14, verse 26, and verse 30. John uses the word “sign” for the miracles to remind us that the miracles were not ends in and of themselves; they were, rather, pointers to a deeper reality.
In fact, the gospel of John regularly includes things that Jesus said and that Jesus did that help interpret these signs. This, again, is a unique thing regarding the miracle of the loaves here in the gospel of John. As New Testament scholar D.A. Carson says, “Jesus’s miracles are never simply naked displays of power, still less neat conjuring tricks to impress the masses, but signs, significant displays of power that point beyond themselves to the deeper realities that could be perceived with the eyes of faith.” We could say, in short, that they were signs of the kingdom, they they were signs that pointed to the kingship of Jesus Christ, they pointed to the reality of who Jesus is.
You might remember, if you’re familiar at all with the stories of King Arthur, that in the Arthurian legends the sign that the true king had come would be his ability to draw a sword from a stone, and when [a man] could draw a sword from a stone, it showed that he was truly the king of Britain. In the same way, the things that Jesus does were signs pointing to his kingship, pointing to his unique identity, pointing to the reality of who he was and what he had come to do.
There’s also a key detail here in John chapter 6 that helps us interpret these signs and understand what’s going on, and that detail - not what you might expect, but it’s the detail in verse 4 which says, “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.” It’s a key detail that helps us understand the significance of the signs.
Now, you remember the Passover story. We actually considered it last week when we were in the book of Exodus, Exodus chapter 6. We were looking at this rescue of God, when God redeemed his people Israel from slavery in Egypt, and you remember that the Passover happened in Exodus chapters 12 and 13. It was when God sent the final plague to Egypt, the death of the firstborn, and even the firstborn of the children of Israel were to die unless they were covered with blood. So a lamb was slain, the blood was spread on their doors, and God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you,” and this inaugurated an annual feast where, every year, the children of Israel would celebrate the Passover. They would remember, they would look back to how God had redeemed them.
Now, John is very attuned to the Jewish feasts and festivals, and you’ll see this as we study through this gospel, that over and again he calls attention to the time of year it was and the feast or festival that was either happening or was about to happen.
There are three Passovers that are recorded in the gospel of John. You have one in John chapter 2, when Jesus cleanses the temple; then, the final week of Jesus’s life, John chapter 11 then through the end of the book, happens during the Passover week. But here, it’s the second Passover. It’s showing us that this takes place squarely in the middle of Jesus’s ministry, but it also alerts us to details in the text that we might otherwise miss. The reason for including this, as Carson says, “is not chronological, it’s theological.”
So, why this detail? Why is John reminding us that it was the time of the Passover, and what does that have to do with these signs?
Well, remember for a minute two of the things that followed the Passover in the book of Exodus. You remember that in Exodus chapter 14 the children of Israel are fleeing from Egypt and they come up against a body of water, and they can’t cross the body of water. Do you remember that? The Red Sea. The Egyptians are behind them, the sea is before them, and do you remember what Moses says? He tells the children of Israel, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” and then he raises his staff, his rod, and the waters part, and the children of Israel go through on dry land.
And then, in Exodus chapter 26, the children of Israel are in the wilderness and they have nothing to eat. Do you remember this? They are starving. They’re complaining. They’re grumbling against God and against Moses. They’re saying, “We have nothing to eat; it would have been better if we were back in Egypt.” And you remember what God does? God sends bread from heaven. He sends the manna, the bread of heaven, the manna which sustains his people in the wilderness.
Those two miraculous deliverances are the background to the two signs recorded here, as Jesus provides bread in the wilderness for thousands of hungry people and as Jesus privately, with his disciples, walks on the sea, calming the storm, showing that he is the one who has power over the chaos of the sea.
In both of these instances, it’s showing us that Jesus is the new Moses who has come to lead his people on a new exodus, a new kind of deliverance, deliverance not just from Egypt, but deliverance from sin.
There are some indications that this is the right reading of these miracles. In verse 14 we read that “when the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’” Now, that’s a reference to Deuteronomy chapter 18, where there was a prophecy that another prophet, a prophet like Moses, would come and would speak to God’s people, and the crowds discerned that Jesus may indeed be this prophet.
The people, then, themselves bring up the story of Moses and manna from heaven in verse 31. They say, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” And Jesus will go on to say, “I am the true bread from heaven.”
Perhaps it was current in this time, the thought of the Jewish people of the time that’s reflected a few centuries later by a rabbi, Rabbi Isaac, in the third century. He said that “as the former redeemer caused manna to descend, so will the latter Redeemer cause manna to descend.”
So, there seemed to be the expectation that the Messiah would come and would give bread to his people, just as Moses had been instrumental in providing for God’s people in the story of the exodus. That expectation, perhaps, is present here.
And then there’s one more indication that we should read this sign as a new exodus, and that’s when Jesus is walking on the sea in verse 20. His disciples are afraid. And notice they are afraid when they see him walking on the sea. That’s what causes their fear. “Who is this man,” they are wondering, “who walks on the sea? The winds and the waves obey him.”
Do you remember what Jesus says? He says, “It is I; do not be afraid.” “It is I.” Now, that’s a fine translation of the Greek phrase; the Greek phrase is Ego eimi (Εγο ειμι), “It is I,” but those words could also be translated, “I am.” It’s the language that is used in Exodus 3:14 when God reveals himself to Moses and says, “Tell the children of Israel that I AM [ego eimi] has sent you.”
Now, it’s doubtful that the disciples themselves recognized what Jesus was perhaps doing here, but as we read the gospel of John we read over and again these “I am” statements, “I am” with a predicate; “I am the bread of life,” or, “I am the light of the world,” and then by itself in John 8:58, when Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” There can be little doubt that there’s something here for us to see, that Jesus here is claiming to be the divine One himself. He is the God who led his children in the exodus in the Old Testament, and he is the one who has come to lead them in a new exodus here.
These are the signs, and they help us understand everything that Jesus will teach in the sermon, the discourse, that will follow.
II. The Hungry Crowd
Let’s consider for a minute, now, the hungry crowd. The crowd is named, again, four times in this passage; verse 2, verse 4, verse 22, and verse 24, but then more if you count all the pronouns and the simple description of them as “the people.”
So the crowds of people are engaging with Jesus, and what we see in this picture of the crowds is not flattering. As one person described it, “they are fascinated, but they are fickle.” They are fascinated with Jesus, but they’re fickle in their loyalty to Jesus. In fact, by the time we get to the end of John chapter 6, most of them will have forsaken him. So it’s not a flattering picture of the crowd. They seem to continually miss the point of the signs. They see the miracle, but they miss the point.
It’s kind of like training a dog. I have a dog that we just got recently, and she’s really sweet, and I love her, but have you ever noticed that sometimes when you’re training a dog, especially if that dog is not very bright, you throw a stick, and the dog looks at you, right? And then you point, and the dog sniffs your finger. It’s like, “No, you’re totally missing the point here.”
That’s kind of what these people were like in the crowd. Jesus does something, and they completely miss the point. They’re not seeing who he is, they’re not seeing what he really came to do. Instead, they just want more bread. So, Jesus will eventually confront them with this.
They recognize Jesus’s power, but part of the problem is that their expectations of a Messiah are entirely earthly and political. They are looking for deliverance from Herodian rule in Galilee, from Roman rule in Judea. They are expecting that some Messiah will come and kick the Roman boot off of the Jewish neck. That’s what they want. So when they see that Jesus can provide miraculous bread in the wilderness, they’re ready to make him a king. They’re ready by force to make him a king to lead them into revolt. Jesus won’t have it, so Jesus, having fed the people in the wilderness, having fed the crowd, Jesus withdraws from them, in verse 14.
And then when they come seeking Jesus, verses 22-25, Jesus confronts them, and I want you to see what he says. Look at verse 25. “When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’” So they’ve been seeking Jesus. Look at what Jesus says, verses 26 and 27: “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. Do not work 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.’” They come seeking Jesus, and Jesus confronts them, Jesus rebukes them. He says, “You’re seeking me for the wrong reason.”
It is a powerful word for us who claim to follow Jesus today. What is our motive in seeking Jesus? This passage teaches us that there is a way of seeking Jesus that is not pleasing to Jesus! There is a kind of seeking that is fundamentally self-centered rather than Jesus-centered. There is a mercenary, opportunistic way of seeking after Jesus. It’s the seeking of the consumer, the person who is seeking Jesus, who is coming to church, who is getting religious for what he or she can get out of it, rather than for Jesus himself.
There are lots of ways this happens. This happens when Christians co-opt the name of Jesus, his name and his word or his people, to gain power or influence politically or professionally. It happens when we come to Jesus because we think he will give us a better life - health, and wealth, and prosperity.
It happens sometimes even when the church encourages people to come to Christ, making promises that Jesus never made and that Jesus himself does not fulfill. “If you just come to Jesus, he’ll fix your marriage, he’ll fix your family, he’ll do all kinds of things.” We make these promises, the church makes these promises; it’s not necessarily the case. And so people seek Jesus for the wrong motivation.
Let me tell you, there are three problems with this. When people do this, there are three problems. Number one, it misrepresents Jesus. It misrepresents the gospel. Secondly, it raises false promises of Christianity, and it sets people up for failure in their expectations, because they come expecting Jesus to do something, deliver them from all their trials and all their suffering, and then when they get cancer they blame God. It often, perhaps an even deeper problem, it leaves the most central needs of the heart unaddressed. It leaves unaddressed our need for forgiveness, our need for redemption, for regeneration, for faith and repentance, our need for an escape from sin and death.
Let me give you an illustration that I found helpful when I first heard this many years ago from an evangelist named Ray Comfort. Ray Comfort says to consider a man who boards an airplane, and the stewardess approaches him and says, “Sir, here’s a parachute. If you will put on this parachute and wear the parachute, I promise you that your flight will go better. The food will taste better, you’ll have a more comfortable ride, your self-esteem will be enhanced. Just wear the parachute.”
It doesn’t sound very believable, but the man says, “Okay, I guess I’ll take her word for it.” He straps on the parachute, and it makes the ride less comfortable, not more. The food doesn’t taste any better, it still tastes like airplane food. And when the stewardess then trips later and spills coffee all over his lap, he’s angry. “This stupid parachute didn’t do me any good!” He rips the parachute off, throws it on the floor. “This wasn’t valid, this wasn’t real.” He’s completely disillusioned with the purpose of parachutes.
Now, the problem is obvious in this rather quaint illustration, that the parachute was given for a purpose other than it was really designed to do. If you change the scenario and you change the conversation, it could sound very different.
If the stewardess said, “Sir, it’s almost certain that this plane is going to go down. A big jump is coming. You’re going to have to jump out of the plane, and your only hope for survival is to put on the parachute, wear the parachute. If you strap on the parachute and you jump out with the parachute, you can survive.” Well, then he holds onto the parachute tightly, and when the jump comes, he’s glad that he has it.
In the same way, if the way in which we share Jesus with people, or the reason for which we come to Jesus is to enhance our self-esteem, to have a better life, to have a better marriage, to have better kids, to get health, wealth, and prosperity, we will be disillusioned; but if we are fleeing the wrath to come, if we know that there’s judgment and that the only escape from that judgment is in a Savior who can rescue us from sin and death and hell, then we cling to him with gratitude in our hearts for what Jesus has done. Jesus confronts the hungry crowd, and he confronts them for seeking him for the wrong motive.
III. The True Bread from Heaven
But then the good news is that he begins to tell them exactly who he is and what he has come to do. We see that in the third point, the true bread from heaven.
This is where we begin to dig into the discourse, the bread of life discourse, which takes up most of the rest of John chapter 6. Now, it’s going to take us several weeks to work all the way through this sermon, but we’re just looking at the introductory words here in verses 27 through 35, and I want to point out four things for you. I want to point out who Jesus is, what he does, how we respond, and the result of responding to him.
(1) So, first of all, who he is. This is what we see: he is the Son of Man who came down from heaven, who was sent and sealed by his Father. Look at verse 27. Jesus says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” This is Jesus’s favorite designation of himself, the Son of Man.
It refers, of course, to Jesus in his humanity, but attentive Bible readers will know it also refers to this figure in Daniel chapter 7, the Son of Man who is exalted to the throne with the Ancient of Days. Jesus says that on him God the Father has set his seal; that means God the Father has given him authority, just as a seal, a notary republic, you know, it seals a document, it shows that this document is authentic. So God the Father authenticates the work and the words, the ministry of Jesus, the Son of Man. Jesus is probably referring here to his baptism. Remember when the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This testified to who Jesus was.
Then look at verses 32 and 33. Jesus says 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. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
I just want to lock in on that phrase, “came down from heaven.” “Who comes down from heaven.” It’s a phrase that is repeated over and over and over again in John chapter 6. You see it in verse 33, you see it again in verse 38 when he says, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”
This raises the ire of the people. It offends them, because in verses 41 and 42 it says, “The Jews grumbled about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 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”?’” It offends them that he makes this claim, and yet he makes it again and again.
You see it again, verses 50 and 51, and again in verse 58. It emphasizes for us the utter uniqueness of Jesus Christ. He is a true man, very man of very man, he is truly human; but he is also the one who came down from heaven. He existed before he was born of the virgin Mary. He came down from heaven; he was sent by the Father, sealed by his Father. He makes claims for himself that no one else makes. If you are to truly seek Jesus, you have to engage with who Jesus is and who he claimed to be. He made claims to have come from the Father, he made claims to be one with God himself.
One of the best expressions of this, one of the best articulations of this, is from C.S. Lewis. As you know, he was agnostic who became a very solid Christian and an apologist for the Christian faith. He wrote a wonderful little essay, I’d recommend it to you, you can find it online, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” I want you to hear what Lewis said.
“The things he says,” speaking of Jesus, “The things he says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, ‘This is the truth about the universe. This is the way you ought to go.’ But he says, ‘I am the truth and the way and the life.’ He says, ‘No man can reach absolute reality except through me. Try to retain your own life, and you will be inevitably ruined; give yourself away and you will be saved.’ He says, ‘If you are ashamed of me, if when you hear this call you turn the other way, I will also look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and from me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out; if it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first, you will be last. Come to me, everyone who is carrying a heavy load; I will set that right. Your sins, all of them, are wiped out. I can do that; I am rebirth. I am light. Eat me, drink me. I am your food.’ And finally, ‘Do not be afraid; I have overcome the whole universe.’ That is the issue.”
In this whole essay, Lewis is essentially saying, the question is not, “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” it’s, “What will Jesus Christ make of us?”
The pressing question for every one of us this morning is, Do you believe the claims of Jesus Christ? Do you believe that he is who he said he is, that he is the one who came down from heaven? This is his identity. Jesus is the Son of God.
(2) But notice, then, what he does. He came down from heaven for a purpose: to give us the food that endures to eternal life. Again, verse 27, “Do not work 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.” Verses 32-33, “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. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” Then verse 35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
One more verse, further down in the passage, verse 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.”
You put all those passages together, and what becomes very clear is that Jesus came for a purpose, that purpose is to give us life, and the way he gives us life is by giving up his own life. The bread that he gives for the life of the world is his own flesh! He goes to the cross! So, counter to the expectations of the crowd, who want a king to defeat their earthly enemies, they want a king who will take sword in hand, spear in hand, and will march against Rome; counter to that, Jesus goes to the cross, and he takes the spear in his own side. He dies giving himself as a substitute for sinners, so that through his death they might have life. He gives us the food that endures to eternal life, and that food is Christ himself. It means that the only way for you and I to have eternal life is to get Jesus. It’s to have Jesus! It’s to eat Jesus.
(3) Jesus uses this language. “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” He doesn’t mean it in a crassly literal way; he means that we are to partake of the what he has done for us, we are to depend on him, we are to rely on him, we are to entirely entrust ourselves to him. This is how we are to respond: through faith, believing in him and coming to him.
Verses 28 and 29, “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” And then it’s crystal clear in verse 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.’” There you see it; coming to Jesus, believing in Jesus, are parallel to one another. To believe in Jesus is to come to him; to come to him is to believe in him. This is an active response to Jesus of trusting in him.
Over the next several weeks we’re going to look more deeply into what this means, we’re going to dig deeper into the rest of this sermon. But this morning let me just commend to you this explanation of what it means to believe in Jesus, from Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
I’m on a Spurgeon kick right now, and you better get used to it. I just got the complete sermons. Praise God. I’ve been on cloud nine all week. It’s like 63 volumes, takes up three shelves. So, this is my reading for the next 12 years! So you’re going to get a lot of Spurgeon quotes. I read last night, it was the last thing I did before I went to bed, I read Spurgeon’s sermon, “The Best Bread,” and this was a quote from it out of four or five I could have chosen, but I love this. This is what Spurgeon says about believing in Jesus.
He says, “Trust him for yourself. That is the point, the hinge of the whole business. He is a Savior; I believe that, but I go further and resolve he shall be my Savior. May I say that? Yes, for I am permitted to do so inasmuch as he says, ‘Him that cometh to me I will no wise cast out.’ Scripture says that he is exalted on high to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins; therefore, I look to him to give me repentance and remission of sins. He has said, ‘It is finished.’ The atonement is finished, and I believe that it is finished for me. A prominent point about the offering under the old law was that the person who came with the sacrifice laid his hands on it and said, ‘This is mine.’ You must do the same with Jesus. Lay your hands on him and say, ‘This is mine. This sacrificial death is for me.’ If you come to Christ and take him into yourself, he is yours, and you shall live by him. Jesus says, ‘He that eateth me, even he shall live by me.’ Nor death, nor hell, nor time, nor eternity can take Jesus away when once you have him within you. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ Swallow, then, the divine truth. Let it go down quickly, for fear anybody should come before it has fully entered into your soul. This, then, is to feed upon Christ, to believe that which is revealed about him, and then to appropriate him to yourself by personal faith.”
Have you done that? Have you swallowed the truth? Don’t just taste it, don’t just nibble at it; eat it! Take it in! Swallow the truth, believe the gospel, entrust yourself totally to Jesus. Say with that hymn writer,
“Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.”
The only way to eternal life is to trust in what Jesus Christ has done for you. Have you done that this morning?
(4) When you do, here is the result. Look at verse 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.’” Jesus promises not only eternal life, but he promises a soul satisfaction in him. A soul satisfaction in him. “He who believes in me will never hunger, he who believes in me will never thirst.”
We might paraphrase St. Augustine and say that God has made us for himself, and our souls are hungry until we eat our fill in him. Or in the words of that great medieval mystic hymn writer and pastor, Bernard of Clairvaux,
“We taste thee, O thou living bread,
And long to feast upon thee still;
We drink of thee, the fountain-head,
And thirst our souls from thee to fill.”
There is a satisfaction that comes in knowing Jesus Christ. It’s not the satisfaction that the world promises. I’m not talking about an enhanced self-esteem, I’m not talking about earthly success, I’m not talking about all your problems going away; I’m talking about a soul that has found its joy in the Savior, in Jesus! Have you found that? Have you found Jesus to be your bread? The bread of life for you!
This morning, the simple message of the gospel is this: without Christ, you will die, you will die eternally. Without Christ you are lost; there is a hell, it is eternal, and you will be condemned. But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to take the condemnation in your place. It is a free gift, it’s all by grace, and all you need to do is believe in him. If you will trust in him, if you will believe in him, you’ll take him for your own, he will save you, he will rescue you, he’ll redeem you, he’ll change you, he’ll turn your life around; he’ll satisfy your deepest soul.
So brother, sister, if you’re a Christian, the good news of the gospel is, Keep believing. Don’t give up. Don’t turn away from Jesus. And friend this morning, if you’re not a Christian, the good news of the gospel for you is, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Let’s pray.
Our gracious Father, we thank you this morning for this amazing gift that you’ve given to us in your Son. You’ve given us the true bread that comes down from heaven. God, we thank you. This morning we long to feast our souls on Jesus. We come to him right now. We come to him in our hunger, we come to him in our sin and condemnation, we acknowledge that we have no hope save in your sovereign mercy. We cast ourselves on Jesus. We pray that all that Jesus has done for us might be deeply applied to our own hearts by your Spirit, that we would know the assurance of forgiveness, that we would know the power, the transforming, life-changing power, of your Spirit within us. So Lord, work this morning.
As we come to the Lord’s table today, we come to eat bread and drink juice in remembrance of what Christ our Savior has done. We know these elements are merely material symbols, but they point us to a greater reality, a spiritual reality of Christ, who is our bread; Christ, who is wine for our souls. So as we come to the table to physically take these elements, may we come to Jesus to spiritually feed our souls on him. Would you draw near to us in these moments? Would you send your Spirit? Would you seal the promises of the gospel to our hearts? Would you give assurance right now to the doubting soul? Would you give regeneration and new birth to the seeking person? For all of us, would you satisfy our soul’s longings in Jesus, in whose name we pray, Amen.