Thursday, March 6, 2014

John 6, conclusion

Today we are concluding our study of the sixth chapter of John's gospel. Let's dig in!

We've seen the miracle of Jesus providing food for over five thousand people, from a small basket containing only two fish and five barley loaves. Now let's see what the reaction was, from the people who received this food . . .
At the beginning of this passage, we saw that this large crowd was following Him because "they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick." So this throng followed because of the signs and miracles that they saw Him doing. He was healing the sick, and they were amazed; they wished for more of the benefits of His awesome power. Hmmmm . . . we've seen this before, right?
"Many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing."  (John 2:23) 
This was Christ's response at the time:
“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people” (John 2:24)
 We talked about how Jesus knew their hearts and realized that they were excited by His miracles. They believed He was a genuine miracle-worker. But something was wrong  . . .
The people in this crowd had a similar problem. When they saw the sign (the miracle of feeding so many people) they said, "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!" And Jesus, who knew their hearts, perceived that they were about to take Him by force to make Him king. So He withdrew to the mountain.
The enthusiasm these people had, was not for who He really was.
This reference to the "Prophet" points all the way back to Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses prophesied, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers -- it is to him you shall listen." Well, Jesus was indeed this predicted Prophet. He was the fulfillment of that prophecy.

But the people didn't understand what it meant. Let's look at verses 32 and 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.’”
In other words, I am like Moses, but so much more! Moses asked God, and God supplied the manna, the miracle bread that sustained the people in the wilderness. Now Jesus is saying, "I don't just give you the bread of life; I am the bread of life. You can see my power, but you don't yet understand the glory of how this power will be used.

Later in the passage, Jesus says,
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.” John 6:51
There were three things about Jesus, the bread of life, that they didn't "get" --

Jesus was going to use His power not to triumph over the Romans, as the people wished, but to triumph over their sins.  And it was He, not the miracles, that their souls needed (and ours do, too).  And the connection between these two is the way He becomes food for the eternal satisfying of our souls: by laying down His life for us.

But wait! Isn't He a king?
Yes, He is. In John 18:36 Jesus told Pilate:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Yes, He is King, but not the way Pilate, or this crowd in John 6 thinks of a king. In that verse, Jesus doesn't mean that this world belongs to someone else -- it belongs to Him. He made it. And someday He will come again and claim it. But He came into the world not to be a military captain or a earthly king, but to be bread. He came not to subdue armies but to satisfy souls.

So, Jesus is doing much more than taking five loaves and two fish and feeding a huge crowd -- He is opening a window on who He is. He is showing us His glory. And He is showing us, not so we can get excited about how useful He could be in giving us what we want, but so that we can see that He, Jesus, is better than anything we ever wanted before.
The point of making bread for the throng, like God making manna, is that the Son of God came into the world not to give us bread, but to be our bread. And we are all, every one of us, sinners, so we don't deserve this bread.
Then how will He give it to us?
“The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51)
When He gives His flesh on the cross, he becomes that bread. Something -- no, someone -- who will nourish us, and satisfy us, the sinners who believe.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
Thank you Lord, for coming to earth to be the Bread of Life!


Catherine Shepherd said...

I love the way the first verse of this hymn emphasizes all that you have been saying about this passage of scripture.

"Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more."

Belinda said...

Oh that's really nice Catherine!!

I should be more hungry for the Bread of life, than the bread made with flour! Not very dynamic words, but the simple truth. :)