Presentation on theme: "Presentation 19. Introduction Throughout the ages men have grappled with the big issues of life asking searching and demanding questions; "Who is able."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction Throughout the ages men have grappled with the big issues of life asking searching and demanding questions; "Who is able to satisfy the spiritual craving of my heart? Who will provide me with insight and understanding of spiritual truth? Who can deliver me from the tyranny of death?..." History records only one confident, positive, response which says, "I am able..." The voice belongs to Jesus Christ whose claims are brought into sharp focus in this gospel. Jesus makes unique claims about his person, in his famous “I am” statements. We turn to one of these claims now. "I am the bread of life"
Presentation 19 The Background To The Claim The events in this chapter take place immediately after the feeding of 5000 plus people. This crowd held a variety of expectations of Jesus. First, there were those who wanted to be entertained. We find them mentioned in 6v2. Life was dull and they had joined the miracle circuit to try and cheer themselves up. They were fascinated by the phenomenon of religion and intrigued by the wholesome attractiveness of Jesus. They would follow an entertaining Jesus anywhere.
Presentation 19 The Background To The Claim Such people exist today. They tell us that the world is such a depressing place that, the chief function of the church should be to cheer them up and make them happy. Preachers are warned against dealing with those areas of truth that disturb, challenge and cause discomfort. They are told their task is to relieve monotony, minister comfort and provide entertainment. This is the limited expectation of the pleasure seeker. The pleasure seeker asks no more of the church than that!
Presentation 19 The Background To The Claim Secondly, there were those in the crowd with political expectations. They resented the tyranny of Rome. They objected to the loss of their national identity. They were indignant at their exploitation. In Jesus, they felt they had a leader, who would free them from Rome’s yoke. Cf. [6v15]. Similarly, today many people would gladly follow a political Saviour. Think of the development of the liberation theology in South America. Jesus is presented a revolutionary, a Che Guevara figure, whose goal is to bring political emancipation to the oppressed. The political activist tells the church that her primary concern should be with the liberation of the oppressed peoples of the world. That is the limit of his expectation of Jesus.
Presentation 19 The Background To The Claim Finally, there were those in the crowd with materialistic expectations. Having experienced Jesus’ provision of bread and fish they would gladly follow a ‘soup kitchen Saviour’. The thought of material gain drove them after Jesus. They had no spiritual appetite for their appetite was anchored solely to this world. They too had a limited expectation cf. 6v26. The prosperity gospel, popular in many church circles today, is not a new phenomenon. It attracts people, who will follow a Saviour whose principle goal, we are told, is to alleviate poverty, material hardship and illness.
Presentation 19 The Significance Of The Claim It is important to understand that the unique claim of Jesus in 6v35 is made against the background of the low level of expectations of the crowd. Jesus’ goal was to lead men away from their own dull perception of their basic need. Addressing those, whose stomachs he had recently filled, Jesus points out that they were spiritually malnourished. In v27 Jesus contrasts the importance of food which sustains physical life with that which sustains spiritual life. Because time spent in this world is short, our energy should be given to the pursuit of that food which feeds our spiritual life.
Presentation 19 The Significance Of The Claim People need to recognise the spiritual void in their lives; what Pascal the French philosopher described it as a “God shaped blank". When men fail to recognise the spiritual nature of this void, they attempt to fill it with a variety of things; possessions, ambitions, pleasures and family. But none fit the shape, none satisfy the spiritual appetite. When Jesus says "I am the bread of life," he is saying, “I and I alone am designed to fit the blank; I am the missing piece!”
Presentation 19 The Significance Of The Claim All this talk of spiritual food reminded Jesus' hearers of the manna that their ancestors ate in the wilderness v31. They reason that material things supernaturally provided is as much as they can expect from God. Today people point to, answers to prayer or remarkable providences, and conclude that there is no more to experience of God's provision. But note how Jesus contrasts the limitations of the manna, which was given to Israel in the wilderness to satisfy physical appetites, with his own unique provision, which unlike manna is not physical and transitory but spiritual and eternal. There is no possibility of eternal life apart from Jesus. To have Christ in our lives means our spiritual hunger can be eternally satisfied v35.
Presentation 19 The Significance Of The Claim Of course there are many voices today that claim to provide spiritual satisfaction. What makes this claim of Jesus so unique? It was made by the Son of God who has come down from heaven. We read in v27 that Jesus had been sealed to this office by God. Therefore, his claim bears God's guarantee. God alone can fill the God shaped blank! In what way? We are told in v51, "this bread is my flesh which I give for the life of the world". This is a clear reference to Jesus’ sacrificial death upon the cross. Our spiritual needs are met through his Substitutionary death!
Presentation 19 The Significance Of The Claim The ‘Author of Life’ gave his body to be broken in death in order to deal with all that separated men from eternal communion with God. By nature we are dead to God. We have inherited the consequences of the fall of Adam - “on the day that you eat [of the fruit of the tree] you will surely die” Gen.3v17; a reference in the first instance to a spiritual death. By his death, Jesus has dealt with our guilty past, the just demands of the law have been satisfied and the weight of God's wrath borne by him. Those who receive Jesus - The Bread of Life – by faith, discover that the ‘God shaped blank’, which spiritual death produces, is filled by him. They access his eternal, resurrection life!
Presentation 19 The Response Of The Disciples Jesus made a very unique claim. He addressed man's greatest need. He alone was qualified to meet it. How did the majority respond? Cf. v60, 66. They turned their back on Jesus! Isn't that amazing? Perhaps not, when we consider that people often follow Jesus for their own ends: pleasure, material provision and political security. However, once Jesus confronts them with the purpose of his mission which is to take up residence in the ‘God shaped blank’ of their lives and once he reveals the reality of their spiritual emptiness and speaks of the cross, suffering and costly discipleship then he loses popularity. Not many are prepared to be cross-bearers!
Presentation 19 The Response Of The Disciples Indeed, as soon as the requirement of costly commitment to Jesus begins to break in upon their consciousness, what happens? They begin to re-evaluate the Jesus they had gladly followed for their own reasons. These ‘followers’ not only began to argue over the benefit of continuing to follow Jesus v52 but conclude that the implications of his instruction was ‘hard saying’ v60. The spiritual truths contained in Jesus’ words found no resonance in their hearts or deadened spirits. His word creates the faith required to receive him but it had not been welcomed by open minds and as a result they are categorised as those who ‘do not believe’.
Presentation 19 The Response Of The Disciples Jesus, the Bread of Life and Saviour of the world stands before men and they see only an enigma, a puzzling figure, who does not fit with their expectations. The rags of this world seem more attractive to them than Jesus’ riches. They prefer the hedonistic trough of this world's pleasures to the feast spread upon Christ's table. They want a Jesus, who will visit them in their foul smelling dungeon in order to entertain rather than a Jesus who would deliver them and lead them out into the clean fresh air of the kingdom of God.
Presentation 19 Conclusion When Jesus asked his true disciples, how they would react to his claim they provide a quite different response, "Lord to whom else can we go...” v67. They had greater expectations of Jesus not because their understanding was perfect but because they had an appetite for God and his Word. They recognised their need of salvation and recognised that only Jesus could provide it. Do you see Jesus as one uniquely qualified to meet the deepest spiritual longing of your heart? Bread is not beneficial unless you eat it; Jesus is of no value to you unless you receive him by faith. Have you been brought to the place where you can say, "Lord to whom else can we go....