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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jesus - The Bread of Life Journeying through John

Jesus, The Bread of Life (John 4:46-7:37)

Journeying through John

The gospel of John was written that we might believe. (John 20:31) This book follows Jesus through His life. Since John was right there with Jesus, he describes His healings and records His teachings. As we continue on in John we read that Jesus healed a nobleman’s son. The boy was dying in Capernaum and the father was desperate when he traveled to Cana to find Jesus. Jesus spoke the word and the boy was instantly healed. (John4:46-54)

Next Jesus went to Jerusalem and healed a man at the pool of Bethesda. This man had been crippled and sick for thirty-eight years, and with one word Jesus healed him instantly. Then Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk home.

All of this happened on the Sabbath, and the man who was healed got in trouble as he walked home carrying his bed. The religious Jews saw him and accused him of breaking the law by carrying a load on the Sabbath. They demanded to know who had healed him so that they could prosecute the offender.

Instead of rejoicing that this crippled man had been miraculously healed, these religious leaders were angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath and broken their Sabbath laws. The Messiah had come and He was threatening the religious control and authority they held over the people. These legalistic Jews had given their lives to their religious establishment and now Jesus was upsetting it. And to make matters worse, Jesus had become immensely popular with the people and large crowds were following Him everywhere He went. What could they do to stop Him?

Jesus continued his ministry and thousands of people followed after Him because of His teachings and healings. At one point Jesus fed five thousand men and all of the women and children that were with them. A little boy had given Jesus his lunch of five barley loaves and two fish and Jesus had used this little boys’ gift to feed these thousands of hungry people. Can Jesus multiply the small gifts we bring Him and use them for great purposes also?

After Jesus fed the more than five thousand He later preached to the crowds and told them that He is the bread of life. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) Jesus continued: “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever: and the bread that I shall give is My flesh which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:50-51) “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” (John 6:53-58)

Jesus has identified Himself as the bread of life. He is life and He imparts life to those who come to Him and who believe on Him. The flesh of Jesus, His actual corporeal existence, was to be given for the life of the world. This teaching that He gave pointed to the cross. Jesus is speaking of the Eucharist or communion when He speaks these words to His many followers. When we take the communion bread and wine, we are taking the body of Christ which was broken for us and the blood of Christ which was shed for us. Christ communicates life to those who feed on Him and will bestow on them immortality.

Scripture tells us: “From this time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” ( John 6:66) Why did these many followers of Jesus turn away so quickly when they didn’t understand one of His teachings? Couldn’t they have asked Jesus to explain, or wait awhile and trust Him with whatever the meaning might be? Had their faith been superficial and pseudo? The crowds loved Jesus when He healed their sick or miraculously fed them. They ran after Him when they thought He might become their new political leader and free them from the hated Roman rule. But they turned away from Him when He gave His teaching about his followers needing to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Was He asking them to become a part of Him, to lose themselves in Him? Many who heard these words of Jesus weren’t sure what He meant and they weren’t willing to stay around and find out. They had wanted to get something out of Him but not if they had to give their hearts to Him.

The religious leaders became more and more upset as Jesus’ ministry continued. They plotted to kill Him when they heard Him refer to Himself as coming from God. The Pharisees believed that Jesus had committed the sin of blasphemy by teaching that He was the Son of God. At one point Jesus said: “…but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.” And “…I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.” (John 7:18b and John 7:28b-29) These words drove the religious Jews crazy! They considered Him dangerous and purposed to have Him arrested and get Him out of the way.

Those who hated Jesus insisted that His teachings were false and not from God. But his followers believed that His teachings were from God. There was a division back then as the excited crowds followed Him and the angry leaders planned His demise.

Jesus spoke and said: “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:17) It seems that Jesus is telling us here that if we determine to obey the Lord and align our will with His will, we will receive understanding of His Word, and know the truth. Obeying God frees up the Holy Spirit to teach us.

Jesus was a lightening rod back then and He is still a lightening rod today. He divides people. In Scripture there are either sheep or goats at the judgment. A person either accepts Jesus as Lord or rejects Him. We believe in Him and receive eternal life or we refuse to let Him change us. It’s as simple as that. Each of us has a choice. What do we do with Jesus? What will it be?

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