“The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying: who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you has a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” [Iscariot, Hebrew Ish Kiriot: man from Kiriot]
“Let’s start our Bible study, John chapter 6. We’re going to pick up where we left off a couple weeks ago. If you’re here visiting this morning, it’s great to have you with us [online too, here at UNITYINCHRIST.COM], in fact, if there’s any way we can pray for you, get you a Bible, we have a prayer-room right here on the left-hand side. After the service, if you’re new or maybe you’ve been here for awhile, you’d like prayer, just some issues, needs in your life, we’d love to pray with you, there’s folks that are available to you after the service, right back here in this corner [room] here. So, let’s say a word of prayer again and we’ll get started, John chapter 6. ‘Lord, we want to thank you for the opportunity to be here this morning, and to study your Word. I thank you that your Word is living and it’s active, it’s not just philosophy, we’re not just trying to grow in knowledge, in intellectual knowledge, but we’ve come here to partake in you, and that your Word affects our lives. So we ask even now for great appetites, greater hunger for you, and give us ears to hear and eyes to see. And we ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and upon even myself now as we go through your Word, and we ask you these things Lord, in Jesus name, amen.’
Just a couple of announcements to keep in mind, a couple things you can be praying about. In a few weeks we’ll be starting home fellowships, we’re going to be talking more about that. We’ve been here awhile, this Bible study [that’s turned into a local church congregation of about 400+ members now], started a number of years ago [as 12 members attending on Sunday mornings], and from the very beginning it was important to me to begin home fellowships. But for a number of reasons we never did. We started a couple, stopped them, but as a church grows, it’s really key to have smaller groups, where we get together, to get to know each other, develop personal relationships, pray for each other, things like that. So we’re going to be starting home fellowships. [This website is doing the same thing with Saturday Bible study small-groups, if you want to get in on the ground floor. To gain some background information on the whole deal log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/historycog1.htm and read through the whole article. Also log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm for a companion study about what this is all about. These articles are fascinating, if a bit long. But these Bible-studies are designed to turn into a “special-purpose” church, designed to do a special job within the body of Christ. If you think you’re up for a very unique experience, go for it.]….You’ll find being in a home fellowship will result in radical growth in your life, and it’ll really be exciting for you….
But anyway, John chapter 6, we left off on verse 40, and we’re going to be beginning on verse 41 this morning. Recently, listening to my pastor in California, speak about, and even in New York City as a number of us were at the Festival of Life in New York City, but he shared a story about how they got into Riker’s Prison. You know, really the Lord miraculously opened the door for the Festival of Life to go into Riker’s Prison. If you’re not familiar with Riker’s Prison in New York City, well, I think it’s about the size of our city here as far as population, between inmates and those who work there. It’s a very large number of prisons together, prison system, on an island there in the middle of New York [City]. A lot of people on that island, a lot of prisoners, and a lot of people that work for the prison, I think 30 or 40 thousand total, if I remember the number correctly. But a great opportunity to go in and minister, a great harvest-field, and the Lord had opened the door in a number of ways. The Festival of Life is kind of radical, they wanted to go in and set up some ramps, and systems for BMX bikes, and skate-boarders, and set up barbeques, those are things you normally can’t do. You can’t go into a prison in too many places in this country with power-saws and drills and things like that, that normally doesn’t go over very well in a prison. But there was this desire to do these types of things, to just have fun with the inmates, but also to love them in the name of Jesus Christ, and share the gospel with them. Well anyway, there was a planning meeting, and as it turned out, as this meeting began to get started, the room that was chosen was one of those rooms where the families come in and they meet with the various inmates, so we had little cubicles. And if you want to have a meeting and you have a room broken up into cubicles, it’s very difficult to have a meeting. But it turned out, the Lord had arranged it, this one particular lady, who is I guess renowned in the area for her soul-food had come, and they had brought her to prepare food for the people in the prison, and that really drew people to come, even high up officials in the prison, to come to this meeting to discuss what the Festival of Life was going to be about, and what the Festival of Life could do and not do. And it turns out, this lady’s food was so popular that many came, and as Mike was wondering ‘how we’re going to do this in this room broken up in little cubicles?’ he watched the people come and stack up this food and put the ribs a mile high on their plates, and then he watched them eat, licking their fingers, distracted with the food. He found that the food was just perfect to get them settled, get them seated, and get their attention, even though the room was broken up, so that he could sit down and present to them, and of course there was some music that was shared….With that, anyway, the Lord used this to build bridges and to open doors even more, so they could do all sorts of crazy things in this prison. But food was part of the bridge, it was part of the process, food that was something that was used, and food often is. [cf. Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking of bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”] Something that you can use to build a bridge into a community, to develop relationships maybe in an area to share the gospel. And certainly good soul-food will go a long way. I like food, I know we all like food. It’s really a weakness that I have. I was on vacation, and I in the past have tried to discipline myself before going on vacation, and watching that scale, making sure that I don’t have too much to work on when I get back. But when I got to my in-laws in California the scale didn’t work, and I guess that was the problem, because I got back and I weighed myself, and it’s not good. I knew it wasn’t good when I had to increase my belt-size [laughter] while I was there. That’s after Manhattan and San Diego, and I went up a size and it was still tight, I knew there was trouble. Going to Rubio’s and in-and-out burger, all these great places. But food, food is something we enjoy, that’s for sure, and it can even be used in evangelism, and can be used to open doors for the gospel. With food, there’s that, but also there’s this other side, food is temporary. You partake in a good meal, you know, going to Rubio’s. I really like that place, that Mexican food, those fish tacos. And I really look forward to it, and sitting down and enjoying those fish tacos, and I usually eat too much, and I’d leave, and it isn’t quite like when I went in, I don’t feel good now, I’m overstuffed, and I’m tired, and I have regrets. So food is temporary, it provides a need, a physical need, we all need food. But yet at the same time it might fill the belly and satisfy the taste buds, but it’s only temporary. And if you remember in John chapter 6, the reason why I share that, is because it’s happened already in John chapter 6, earlier in the chapter. Jesus has fed 5,000 miraculously, multiplied the bread, multiplied the fish, and he fed 5,000. He saw this multitude, had compassion on them, he met their physical need, and because of that work, because he did that, this multitude now begins to follow him, in fact this multitude wanted to make Jesus their king, so he had to withdraw himself. But as you remember, maybe from verse 26 in John chapter 6, the reason why this crowd was really seeking out Jesus, wasn’t so much that he had done the miracle, but it was because their bellies were filled. They had food, and they had this temporary need met. And it’s because of that Jesus even says that they came and they were filled, and now they want to follow him, even make him their king. Well with that understanding, if you remember from verse 27 when we studied this two weeks ago, Jesus exhorts them, he says ‘Don’t labor for food that perishes, but labor instead for food that is eternal, for food that endures to everlasting life, food that I will give you.’ You can have this stuff, but if you devote your life to temporary things such as food, man it’s just temporary, and it just passes. Instead, he says ‘I have something that you can have that will really satisfy you, something that will really meet the spiritual need, the eternal need of your life.’ So he says ‘Allow me to do that.’ For essentially he says ‘I am truly Soul-food, true Soul-food, that is, the Bread of life. I can satisfy your soul. I can satisfy your life. I really can meet your needs, more than just warming your belly, and satisfying your taste buds. Partake in me, and find true life’ is what he says to this multitude. Now when I went to San Diego, fortunately I also went to the huddle which we had up in Lake Arrowhead, and though I filled my belly at all sorts of restaurants, went to the cheese factory with my wife, discovered this place, had lots of cheesecake, bread and same type of deal, walked out regretting I ate too much food. But I also went to the huddle, and sat down and partook what really was the good food, spiritual food. Man, I had some teaching, and listened to some sharing, and got some words of wisdom, and got some Scriptures, the Lord really ministered to my life. And I needed that. Earlier in New York City, the week before, being in our hotel there in Manhattan and looking out the window one day, I said “Lord, there’s some dryness in my soul. And I don’t want that dryness in my soul.” And interesting, in the Bible reading that I was on that day was Jeremiah chapter 31. And I’ll share the Scripture with you, in Jeremiah God says “I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people will be satisfied with my goodness, says the Lord.” He says, “I will satiate”. You know we use the word insatiable, we have an insatiable appetite, meaning, man you can put all kinds of things in there, and you’ll never be satisfied. But God says “I will satiate the soul”. I thought it was interesting, I read that, that day where I was saying ‘Lord,’ I even wrote in my journal, ‘there’s a dryness in my soul.’ And God says “I will satiate the soul of the priests”. And then a little later in the same chapter he says “For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” The word “satiate” in the dictionary means to satisfy an appetite or a desire fully, it means to satisfy it fully, to satisfy to excess. So God says “I will satiate your soul”, “I will fill your soul, your weary soul with my goodness.” Now that’s some cool Scriptures. And that’s the truth of the Christian experience, that’s what God does in our lives, if we open our hearts to him. So Jesus says to the multitude, he says the same to the group here this morning, ‘I will satiate your soul, I will satisfy your life. I will fill your hearts with my goodness to even excess, if you open your hearts. Partake in me the real Soul-food, in the Bread of Life, and I will meet your needs, that’s for sure, your real needs, your spiritual needs.’ Now, as we study from verse 41 on, we’ll study this true Soul-food, and we’ll see first of all its origin, we will secondly see its recipients, then thirdly we’ll see it’s nourishing power, and fourthly, we’ll see the ingredients of the Soul-food.
1. Origin of God’s soul-food, it originates from heaven
Verses 41-42 “The Jews then complained about him because he said ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ And they said ‘Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he says ‘I have come down from heaven?’” Well we see here these religious leaders and these Jews, they grumble, they complain and they murmur because of this comment. Jesus makes this comment five times, he says, referring to bread, referring to coming down from heaven, and it’s not so much that he refers to himself as bread at this point, but the fact that he says ‘he comes down from heaven, or has come down from heaven.’ That they complain and they grumble amongst themselves, and they’re saying ‘What? This makes no sense, what is he saying, he’s come down from heaven? That just doesn’t seem to be right.’ Now it’s possible that Jesus bore some physical resemblance to Mary, Mary was his mother. So maybe, ‘You say you come down from heaven, but I can look at your eyes, I can look at your nose, I can look at your mouth, you look a lot like Mary, she’s your mom, and you’re saying you came down from heaven.’ But as it’s stated there in verse 42, they say “Is this not the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” Of course, Mary being his physical mother, but what they didn’t understand, maybe if they did a little bit more studying of the history, and did a little bit more investigating, I guess if they could do DNA and gene studies like we could do today, their statement “Is this not the son of Joseph”, well it’s not the way they understand, of course we know he’s not the physical son of Joseph, Joseph more than anything is a step-father. But Jesus was born from a virgin, Mary, but also obviously, he’s the Son of God [the virgin birth accounts being brought out in the beginning of Matthew and Luke]. His real father is God the Father, and so he’s both God and he’s both man. “So is this not Jesus the son of Joseph”, well, he’s like a step-son of Joseph. He’s God’s Son. But yes, he is a physical son of Mary, and maybe there was a resemblance. But when he says “I’ve come from heaven”, that’s true, because he’s from God the Father, he’s the Son of God. And with that, because of that, he’s born of a virgin, and he’s from God, he’s from heaven, he’s God the Son, he’s also sinless. He doesn’t have two parents like we have, a father and a mother like we do, so he doesn’t have the curse that comes from Adam, so he’s come down, and because he’s come down as God the Son, he’s now come to bring life to us. So, his origin, this Soul-food, this Bread, Jesus has come heaven.
2. The recipients of God’s Soul-food,
God wants to teach us
Verses 43-46, secondly, we’ll see who are the recipients of this soul-food. “Jesus therefore answered and said to them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves, no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’, therefore everyone who has heard, and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God, he has seen the Father.’” So Jesus says ‘Don’t murmur amongst yourselves, and then he shares the real issue at heart. And the real issue at heart, they’re complaining, they’re not understanding, they’re thinking that he’s stated something that is wrong, but the problem is, is they don’t understand, because really their understanding is darkened and their eyes are darkened. They cannot understand, is what he says in those verses. He says they don’t understand what he’s speaking about because their eyes are blinded, their understanding is darkened, as you see there in verses 43 to 46. In fact in verse 44 he says “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” So he says, he goes to the heart of the issue, ‘You don’t understand, and you don’t understand because the Father hasn’t drawn you’, as seen there in verse 44. And those that he draws he’ll raise up at the last day. And then he says he draws those, in verse 45, he draws those who hear his voice, those who can learn from him, those who will come to him. And here in these verses we have that, it’s been debated for centuries, the sovereignty of God, God drawing us, but also the free choice, the free will of man. It’s true, God draws me, but at the same time, I have free choice. I can chose to follow the Lord, I open my heart, I have a choice, “whosoever will.” But at the same time, the Holy Spirit draws me and moves me. But at the same time, God in his foreknowledge, he’s certainly drawing those who have ears to hear, and eyes to see. Remember Jesus said it. He said, at different times, “He who has ears to hear”, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And that’s essentially what he’s saying here. Those who have ears to hear. ‘Some of you aren’t hearing, you’re not understanding what I am saying because your eyes are blinded, and your hearts are hard.’ But those who have ears to hear can understand this, those who have eyes that can see, spiritually, can perceive what I’m referring to. [Comment: And here is the quandary. Satan, as Revelation 12:9 states, has deceived, blinded if you will, the entire world. It says so in that verse. If this is so, this blinding has blinded everyone in the world, except for those God is presently, or in the past, has called, and drawn to Jesus. This “drawing” that God the Father does amounts to a process of “un-blinding” that the Holy Spirit brings about in the person God the Father is drawing to Jesus. The person comes to understand spiritual things in God’s Word, the Bible, and is drawn to Jesus and desiring to have a relationship with him. All that are not being “drawn” remain blinded with Satan’s worldly deceptions. There are some denominations out there that teach that everyone has to be saved during their normal lifetimes, or else they go to hell-fire. There are others that teach that God is only calling a handful, a few out of the world, compared to the existing population at any given time. According to this interpretation, those that are called, become, if you will, the first-fruits of God’s salvation, a sort of leadership caste, who in the resurrection to immortality will receive powerful positions of authority, reigning over earth with Jesus at his 2nd coming. For those groups that believe this way, they also believe the rest of humanity receives their opportunity for salvation at the time of the 2nd resurrection, cross-referencing this to Ezekiel 37:1-14, Revelation 20:11-13 and Ezekiel 16:55. There are differing interpretations about what the reward of the saints is, and heaven vs. hell. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/kog.htm for more on this subject. These differences in belief in these areas are secondary to the gospel of salvation, not affecting one’s chances of salvation in the least.] Well he says “As it is written in the prophets, ‘They shall be taught by God’, therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” (verse 45) But those, he says, that come are those that will be taught by God, quoting from the book of Isaiah. And that’s just a great thought. I really meditated on that as I was studying this text that is written in the prophets, that they shall all be taught by God. Amazing that we can be taught by God himself. I think to my schooling, elementary and high school and college, I think of the great teachers that I had, some not so good, some that were real good teachers. Those that were good teachers, man, I really learned in those subjects, and I can do well in those subjects. But there are some teachers that I had in high school, even college, you know I think some of my professors, they were hired because of their ability to do research, there were a couple of professors I had that couldn’t really even speak English. I don’t know what they spoke. But we sat there and tried to listen to them, and they could barely speak what we could understand. In fact, I remember one class trying to listen to this guy, I did exactly what he said to do on the test, I know I did, and then I got it wrong. That’s because he misspoke, he couldn’t speak English very well, and we were doing our best, trying to learn this subject. But this reality that we can be taught by God, I mean, the expert of all experts, the Guy who knows it all actually wants to teach us, and instruct us, and give us learning, give us wisdom. That’s certainly something that’s exciting to be taught by him, the One that knows everything perfectly. So we come on Sunday morning [or for Messianic believers in Yeshua on Saturday morning] not necessarily to hear some clever words from me or some cute illustration, we come to be taught by God, to hear the voice of the Lord. Those who have ears to hear, let God speak to you. We come to be instructed by the Lord, to gain wisdom from God, to hear his voice, and to grow in his understanding. Now Jesus actually quotes there the prophet Isaiah, but literally in Isaiah 54 it’s rendered this way, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Being taught by the Lord, being instructed by the Lord, with that comes peace, with that comes abundant life, with that comes being filled, having our souls satiated, being filled with the goodness of God, being taught by him, learning from him, that’s how we grow in his goodness and we find our souls filled. Certainly it’s exciting to study the Word of God. When we were in California it was a blessing for me to have a group come from my church, our church here. And I, of course, love to expose people here to the vision of our headquarters church in southern California, have them see that church, as well as the one in Costa Mesa, see the Bible college and things. Well anyway we were touring around, a group of us, and we went to Costa Mesa on Sunday nights. Now in Costa Mesa, Chuck Smith is the pastor, huge church of 30,000 or so. But now on Sunday nights Jon Courson, maybe you’ve heard him on the radio, he’s come in and is teaching the Sunday night services at Costa Mesa. Don McLure is teaching another service during the week. Chuck Smith is now 75 years of age [he’s now 80 years of age, in 2007], he’s strong, still teaching. But he’s brought other pastors from other Calvary Chapel’s, large churches, they’ve turned their churches over to their sons, and they’re now pastoring with Chuck. And Jon Courson, he’s just a tremendous Bible teacher. Well anyway, it was cool being at the Sunday night Bible service with Jon Courson, because the place packed out so much, and this is a large sanctuary of thousands, they had people sitting in the aisles, they had screens outside, people sitting on the grass outside, it was exciting to be part of that. People hungry for the Word, they’ve come to church there on Sunday morning, but now they’re packed in for a Sunday night service with Jon Courson, and worshipping the Lord. But just to go through the Word of God. It is exciting, it should be exciting to study the Word of God, because God wants to teach us, wants to speak to our hearts, give us his wisdom, have us grow in his learning and understanding. And I know all of us that left that service, man, we were blessed, to hear the voice of the Lord, and have God minister to us. I know as God our Father teaches us, I’m a father, I teach my son, I know I want my son to grow in wisdom. I want him to be spared of a lot of evil, I pray that God spare my children of evil, and especially evil that can come from their own mistakes, and their own choices. So I want to instruct them in wisdom, in the Word of the Lord, that he’d make good decisions in his life, and bear the fruit of good decisions. And certainly God wants to teach you and I the same, so that you and I can go and make good decisions and good choices, and bear the fruit of those good decisions and good choices in our lives. The problem with some of us, maybe, is we’re making a lot of bad decisions, a lot of foolish decisions, and because of that, we’re bearing the fruit of foolish decisions in our lives. But to be taught by God, to learn from him, he knows everything, man, he can tell you exactly what you need to do if you want to have a good life, and to grow in excellence. So we come on Sunday [or Saturday] mornings, we come on Wednesday nights, we go to home fellowships, we sit down alone with the Lord to hear his voice. I think of Manhattan and the first devotional we had there with hundreds of us [about 800] that had come to do that outreach. Mike made this point, “Heaven knows you’re here this morning, and heaven wants to speak to you.” And that’s true, we come on Sunday [or Saturday] mornings, heaven knows we’re here, and heaven wants to speak to us. So, to be taught by God. But in order to be taught you have to be teachable. And in some cases that’s the problem with some of us, we’re not teachable. Maybe we’ve been in the church a couple years now, we think we’ve got it all down [never be so foolish as to think that!]. We think we’ve learned it all already. And God says “Really? You’ve learned it all, already?” The problem maybe with some is that we’re not teachable. But it’s important that we’re teachable, and it’s vital, it’s so vital that we remain teachable, to the day we die, because we have plenty to learn. And if you want to stay fresh in your Christian walk, if you want to have a vibrant Christian walk, we’ve got to stay teachable. You’ve got to have a hungry heart. You’ve got to desire more and more, you have to come to a service, turn on the radio, open your Bible, you’ve got to come wanting to hear the voice of the Lord. It’s key. And maybe you’ve come to church, maybe you’re in that season, going in and out of church, opening the Bible, and it’s just not working, it’s just not happening for you. Maybe it’s because there isn’t any hunger there. You’re not teachable anymore. And if that’s the case, man, repent. Say ‘Lord, soften my heart. Forgive me for my pride.’ We need to be teachable. You want to stay fresh, and it’s vital that we stay fresh in our experience, especially with the world that we live in. [And if you think this world is a nice place, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm and just read that first chapter. Just log onto http://www.foxnews.com every day for a month and see what horrendous things are taking place in this country alone, just in one months’ time.] The world wants to go one direction, often we need to go the other. And that only happens as I remain humble and teachable. To be teachable is to be humble. You can’t be prideful and be teachable, that’s for sure. Well may we come on Sunday [or Saturday if you’re Sabbatarian or Messianic Jewish] mornings, may we open the Bible at home with our family and when we’re alone with a heart of the Psalmist, you know, David and the other Psalmists, there in Psalm 25, “Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths.” Psalm 143 “Teach me to do your will O Lord, for you are my God, your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of a brightness.” So teach me, over and over in the Psalms, teach me. And that’s been my prayer at times, especially when we get to those seasons of frustration, we get to those seasons of confusion, where we don’t understand what in the world is going on. Maybe things aren’t going as planned---great especially then to go “Lord, teach me your ways. What are you trying to teach me now, Lord? Help me to see, help me to understand, that I may know, and may I have a teachable heart.” So key for us as people. He says it is written in the prophets “And they shall all be taught by God.” Man, what a privilege to have God teach us, God speak to our hearts. Well he says that to them, and then he says “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die.” (verses 47-50) Well we see, we see with this Soul-food with Jesus, where the origin is, he’s come from heaven. We also see the recipients, the recipients are those that are teachable, those that have ears to hear. And we should note too, as far as the recipients, he says “which I shall give for the life of the world.” Of course, in the book of John in the Gospels, this food is for anybody who will receive it. Those who have ears to hear, Jesus came for everybody. He’s here certainly this morning, this food is for you this morning, if you’re here, if you’re willing to receive it, and you’re willing to tune in and let God speak to your heart. But we see now, we see its nourishing power, this food, the result of this food, man, is powerful, its nourishing power. Verses 47-48, he says to them “He who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.” And he goes on to say in verse 50, ‘If you eat of this bread, you will not die.’ Man, this Soul-food, this Bread from heaven, if you partake of it man, it is powerful, the effect it has on your life. It will give us eternal life, but also it will give us abundant life, even today. It’s powerful, that’s for sure, it’ll spare us from death, those who eat of it will not die, that is of course spiritual death. That is the greatest death, the second death. [the second death, cf. Rev. 20:6] That is to be separated from God. But those who do eat it, it says as he says there, “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life.” You partake in Christ, you partake in this Soul-food, you partake in this Bread and you will have everlasting life, you will have abundant life, you will have good life. It is powerful, the nourishment that it can give is tremendous. You know, I was blessed to hear, man, I don’t know what the Lord was saying to me….[tape switchover, some text lost] and it was cool to hear Mike say the things that he said while he was here. He said to his congregation, this is a teaching to his congregation, he says “You know I was down in Central Mass.”, and he says, “man I was blessed.” And he says to the people there “I wish you guys could have been there with me.” He says that to the church in southern California “I wish you could have been with me, there in Central Mass, to see the excitement in the people [in this congregation is what he’s talking about], and listen to the worship. I had people come up to me after the service, sharing how God had touched their lives through the ministry there.” I felt like I was with you people” meaning back there, being there in this congregation in Central Mass. I said ‘That is cool, that’s a big blessing to me.’ Because I left that church, God had touched my heart, coming to New England with a similar vision. And then to have my pastor come and say ‘It seems that it’s happening here, at least to a degree.’ I thank God for it, I believe it’s true too. I thought that was neat. So then, attending the first service there in San Diego, and I don’t want to make too much of another church or another man, just take the heart of what I’m saying here. But Mike, as he got his study started, he said ‘Any pastors out here for the huddle? Would you stand up.’ So I stood up, and I was the only one at the first service [laughter]. So he goes on and talks about our city again, to the church. Kind of told them the whole story, all about what the Lord’s doing in our congregation. It was cool to hear it again. Then as I was leaving the service, ran into some people that were part of the home Bible study that my wife and I were part of, home study I used to teach back there. One of the guys, Bill, came up to me, was excited to see me. We were talking, and he says “Hey a few weeks ago I missed the service, and because I missed the service I had to get the tape, and I got the tape and it was all about you guys!” So Mike was talking about our city again. I said “Praise the Lord.” Cool to hear. Then, get up to the conference center there, and the meetings are starting, and Mike is sharing, doesn’t he talk about our city again, talking about what God’s doing here. And I’m like “Lord, what are you trying to say here?” Certainly is encouraging. But the power of the Word of God. I have no idea what I am doing. [laughter] And when they asked me to, when I had to get up to share, I was asked to get up and share at one point, I was nervous to be honest with you. In fact, they didn’t tell you who they were going to pick, so I was praying “Lord, don’t have them pick me, please.” Maybe you’ve been there before, you don’t want to go behind that microphone, one of those types, “Lord, don’t have them pick me.” And don’t you know, I was praying that, and I just felt convicted and said “All right, Lord, if you want me to go up there I’ll go up there.” Just when I said that in my mind, Phil goes and calls my name. So here I go. You know when you do those things you walk away going ‘What in the world did I say?’ All I know is I said “I have no idea what I’m doing, but God is building his Church, because it’s his Word, and he teaches us, even through the most simple teacher. The Word of God. It just speaks to our hearts, and it has power, has nourishing power.” There was a guy at the huddle that is now starting a church on the coast there in San Diego, and I was listening to his story. He was in federal prison five years ago, messed up life, younger guy, probably in his thirties. Got released from federal prison, messed up life. In fact, people in the San Diego ministry knew about him, because his parents went there and they were always asking for prayer. And he made a joke, “When I come around people are hiding their purses.” I guess he must have been in prison for some big robbery or something, federal crime so it had to be big. But, hard life. But then the Lord touched his life, now he’s a pastor, in a real difficult area, small congregation. But he’s so in love with the Lord. He was sharing that he’s really got a heart for the homeless people there on the beaches, you know, the canners, they’re out there collecting cans. So he’s gone to the trash cans, and painted on the inside lid “John 3:16”. So these homeless people are going, it seemed like a good idea, they’re going and lifting up trash cans to get cans so they can get money, and they’re seeing the gospel, printed on the inside lid of the trash can. And he says homeless people are coming, they don’t know why they’re coming to our church, they’ve got questions. I guess it’s kind of, what do you call it, the subliminal message, open up the trash can lid. But the Lord has touched his life, the Word of God, the power, the nourishing power of his Word. So, it’s transformed our lives. But all the more as Christians, I should be nourishing on the Word of God. It has such an effect upon my life. A freeing effect, a powerful effect, bringing victory, bringing the life of the Spirit. So it’s bringing Jesus to me, really, in a practical way, as I partake in the Word, I partake in the Word, the Logos, Jesus himself. So we’ve seen the soul-food, the origin, the recipients, and then [next] the power.
3. The power of this Soul-food, the Bread of Life
He says “I am the bread of life.” You know, that’s an interesting analogy. You consider bread, bread starts with a seed, then grows, and it gets to a point where this grain grows, it’s cut down and then the grain is taken, is ground up, and then it is then baked in fire, and then it’s eaten. And that really is a picture of the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. The seed was put in the womb of Mary [divinely, via the Holy Spirit], then she gave birth, and then this Jesus [Hebrew: Yeshua], this Bread of Life began to grow. But then was eventually cut down, there put on the cross, then ground up, cursed and spat upon, and then baked in the fire as God’s wrath was put upon him, all our sin was put upon him, and then he died and was buried and raised to life so that we can now partake in him. So the Bible says “Taste and see the Lord is good.” So the analogy, the Bread of Life, Jesus, the same. He’s the Bread of Life. Now he says “I am, I am”, he says that, we’ll see that as we go on, seven times. You remember Moses there before the burning bush said ‘I need to tell the people who you are, and God says “I AM, I AM THAT I AM, Tell them that I AM sent you.” (Exodus 3:13-15) Meaning “I am everything, I AM, he’s everything, the eternal God. And certainly in that I AM, he is whatever we need. [Comment: If Jesus is really the great I AM, even as we saw in the last sermon transcript showing John 8:56-59 and Exodus 3:13-15, that means of course, that Jesus, Yeshua, is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. Not God the Father, whom no man has seen or heard, but Yahweh, whom the Israelites saw and heard on Mount Sinai, and whom Moses and Elijah both saw in person.] He’s I AM whatever I need in my life. But Jesus will say seven times I am something, ‘I am the Bread of Life,’ he will say ‘I am the light of the world,’ ‘I am the door of the sheepfold,’ and ‘I am the good shepherd,’ ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ ‘I am the way the truth and life,’ ‘I am the true vine.’ And the truth is today, if you are here today without Christ, he is everything you need. He says to you “I am these things, I am here to give you life.” And if you want to be satisfied, if you want to have your soul satiated, you want to have the goodness of God in your life, Jesus says ‘I am, I am the Bread of Life.’
Now, he says “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead.” Of course, food is important. In fact, I’ve heard this said, and read it even this week, that a human being, that as humans we can survive longer on bread than any other substance. I’ve heard that and read that. I’ve not tried it, but maybe it’s true. We can survive on bread longer than anything. I like bread, that’s good. And I guess we all do. But physical bread, their fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they’re dead. It was pointing to The Manna. The Bread, Jesus Christ, the Bread that we now can have is eternal, this bread that came down from heaven that you and I may eat it and not die.
4. The ingredients for the Bread of Life
Verses 51-59, Now the ingredients for this Bread, this Soul-food. He says “I am the living bread that which came down from heaven, that 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. The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘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. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. 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. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. Now these things he said in the synagogue as he taught in Capernaum.” That synagogue, the foundation, there’s a synagogue right there today in Israel, it’s beautiful on the Sea of Galilee. And when I read that I see him in that synagogue, just right there near the water, he taught these things. When he says ‘this Bread of Life’, his Soul-food, what does it consist of? Well he says, ‘This is it, it’s my flesh, it’s my blood.’ And what does he mean by that? In fact, when he says that, his audience said ‘What in the world are you saying? Are you referring to cannibalism? Are you saying that we actually have to eat you in order to have this life?’ That’s initially how his audience hears it, they don’t understanding what he’s referring to. Or is it like some teach, is he referring to the Communion table, when you and I partake in communion, in the amazing way that we partake of the bread and partake in the juice or the wine, in this amazing way, when I eat that bread miraculously it becomes the physical body of Jesus? Or when I drink that wine, miraculously it becomes the physical blood, so that it goes into me, I’m actually digesting physically the body and blood of Jesus through a miraculous work? Is it that? Is that what he’s saying? The answer to that question in both cases is no. That’s not what he’s saying. He’s speaking in spiritual terms. In fact, if you look just ahead to verse 63, he makes it real clear. He says “It is the Spirit who gives life, and the flesh profits nothing.” Initially they don’t understand, they’re confused, and he goes on to say ‘I’m speaking to you in spiritual terms. If you have ears to hear you’ll understand what I’m saying. I’m not saying that one day I’m going to die, and you’ve got to cut me up in little pieces and eat me to have life, everlasting life.’ Kind of like the fountain of youth, you’ve got to physically drink that water to live forever. Nor is he referring to the Communion table in the sense that it becomes the physical body and physical blood. Certainly he’s referring to the picture of the communion. There’s this picture of communion here, but it’s not in the physical sense. So what is he referring to, what are these ingredients? Well he says in verse 51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven, if anyone eats 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.” When you put all the words together, clearly you see the picture of the cross. “I shall give for the life of the world”, meaning that I will give my life on the cross. He’s referring to, he’s declaring when he himself will be sacrificed there on the cross for the life of the world. So he’s referring to the work of the cross. Now when he says these things, verse 52, the Jews, they quarrel among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Now an Orthodox Jew, Leviticus 17, Leviticus 19, Genesis 9, God said to Noah there, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you, I have given you all things, even as the green herbs, but you shall not eat flesh with it’s life, that is, it’s blood.” Leviticus, the Law, “You shall not drink blood”, you shall not partake in blood, the Law says. So when he says this, the Orthodox Jews there say “Wait a minute there, that’s against the Law, you’re violating the Law. That’s weird.” But again he’s speaking in spiritual terms, and they didn’t realize that what he was saying ‘Just as you take food and drink within your body, it becomes part of you, so when you receive me spiritually I become part of you, I become part of your life. So Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I don’t live any longer, Christ now lives in me.” “I’ve been crucified with Christ, the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who gave himself for me.” He says, I don’t live any longer, but Christ lives in me. So, this is what Jesus is referring to, is partaking him spiritually, and as we commune with him and we in faith partake in him, and taste of him in that sense, he becomes part of our very life. [cf. John chapter 14 & 16] And as he enters my life, I now have eternal life, because he is life. I have abundant life, because he is life. Now those that say he is referring to the communion table physically, verse 50 and 51 and 53, when he refers to his flesh, and when he refers to eating, the tense of the verbs there is in the eras tense, which means once for all. He refers to one time partaking. He doesn’t refer to a weekly. The early church had in fact communion every day it seems, in Acts chapter 2 [I personally think Acts 2 refers to the eating of normal meals, so I believe he is misinterpreting Acts 2.], “they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.” So communion is something we do over and over, and we’re told to do over and over. [The Sabbatarian Churches of God follow the early custom of John, Polycarp and Policrates in observing the New Testament Passover on the 14th Nissan, and this, it is believed by those Sabbatarian Churches of God, was the only time communion, as such, was observed by the early Christian Church, as communion itself represented that last Passover meal Jesus partook with his 12 disciples. Each denomination to their own Christian customs, and let’s respect our right to keep them as we believe.] The tense of what he’s referring to is a one-time act, referring to the cross, where he would give his life, that one time. And now I partake of him for salvation, in faith, and he is all that I need. So, clearly he is referring to spiritual terms.
But then he says in verse 56, great verse too, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” Of course, I came to Christ, he’s my Savior, I partake in him, I receive him as my Savior, I now have eternal life, I’m forgiven of my sin, I have a hope, I have a future. But also there is this daily partaking in him, this daily tasting and seeing the Lord is good, that this abiding in him, as we see in John 15, as I abide in him I bear fruit. And that is so key, man, it is so key that we daily are tasting in the Lord, we daily are partaking in his flesh and blood, in a sense, of being in the Word and looking upon Jesus, letting God speak to our hearts. I like David’s cry in Psalm 63, “O God you are my God, early will I seek you, my soul thirsts for you.” The hunger in his soul. If you hunger for the Lord, man, you will be filled. “My flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” and David knew that the world, man, just doesn’t satisfy. But he had a hunger for God. So early he would get up and partake in the Lord, and he had a full life, that is for sure. If you want to have a full life, follow the example of David, man. Get up early, and if you’re not a morning person, however you do it, man, get alone [with God], and it’s so key that you get alone. Not just the radio [their sermons are on the local Christian radio], not just reading a book, maybe casually with a lot of commotion [going on around you], not just coming to church. It is key, it is so key that I get alone with the Word of God, and I say ‘God speak to me in the quiet.’ In fact I’ll quote to you Warren Wiersby, something quoted often from the huddle this last week. Warren Wiersby made the comment one day, “Without quiet you cannot create”, and it’s true, man. You need to be in quiet to get creative and to really focus. But if you really want to taste in the Lord, man, you really want the power and the nourishment, make it a habit of getting alone, in the quiet, in the serenity. Cultivate serenity in your life. Get away from the business. And the challenge, man, is we are so busy. I went on vacation, and I’m thinking ‘Oh man, I’ll have some tremendous time with the Lord, I’ll have hours. It’s amazing, man, you get busy on your vacation. You can get busy just playing and having fun. But it takes discipline. But if I want to be a parent, but also train my kids in the way of the Lord, I need to be feeding in the Lord, abiding in him. Well, he refers to this Bread of Life.
Of that huge crowd that started following Jesus, few remain
Verses 60 to 71, we’ll finish up here. “Therefore many of his disciples when they heard this said, ‘This is a hard saying, who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples complained about this, he said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of man ascend where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who would betray him. And he said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father.’ From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered to him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon. For it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.” Well again, the disciples don’t necessarily understand, they’re struggling, ‘What do you mean?’ And of course he then gives them further insight. But it was a tough one for them to understand. And he says “Does this offend you?” And then he shares another truth there in verse 62, “What if you should see the Son of man ascend where he was before?” ‘If this offends you, what is that going to do?’, referring to the cross. Of course Jesus ascended, and the way he ascended was first by dying, and then returning again to be with the Father. [Comment: kind of set the pattern for all of us who are born again. We die physically, but then the resurrection to immortality comes, cf. 1 Cor. 15:49-56. They actually witnessed Jesus ascending into heaven in Acts 1:6-9.] He’s referring again to the cross. ‘If this offends you, what’s the cross going to do? How are you going to stumble over that one?’ Of course, initially, they all struggle with that. But then giving this further insight into the matter, he says ‘It’s the Spirit who gives life, it isn’t the flesh, it’s the Spirit.’ And if I want life, abundant life, man, I have got to be partaking on the spiritual level. I have got to be encountering God on the spiritual level, I’ve got to be listening to him. It’s the Spirit that gives life. [cf. John 14 & 16] Then he says “The words that I speak to you are spirit.” So how do I do it? I listen, I go to the Word. “The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” So, I get alone, I open the Word, I say “God, speak to my heart.” And man, God does. I [keep a] journal. Like, wow!, that’s amazing. I looked out the window there in Manhattan I said, ‘Lord’, and I said ‘My soul is dry.’ Then I read in Jeremiah that very day, that you want to satiate the soul with your goodness. You want to satiate the weary soul. I asked those questions of the Lord, said, “I don’t understand this.” Then I get into the Word and he speaks to me, and I fill my journal with truths, where God is ministering to me and giving me life. In fact, as you remember the parable of Jesus, as he refers to the seed being planted, the man goes to bed and wakes up in the morning, doesn’t even understand, but there’s life that has come, doesn’t even know how it works. It’s true of the Word of God, I don’t even understand sometimes how it happens, but as I’m seeking God and opening up the Word, the words that he speaks to me are spirit and they are indeed life. So, Jeremiah 31, God said about his people, he said, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days [i.e. those days = the tribulation, World War III] says the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. And I will be their God and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord’, for they all shall know me from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.” [This is the new covenant prophecied for Israel, prophecied that Israel, the whole house of Israel, all 12 tribes, will come under the new covenant, after WWIII and the 2nd coming. Paul shows in Hebrews 8:6-13 that born-again believers in Jesus are already in this new covenant.] It’s about communion and a personal relationship. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) Now Jesus, as he says further, he says “there are some who do not believe.” There’s this crowd, and in one sermon, he has a multitude that’s following him, man they’re looking for him, and wondering how he got across the lake, they want to make him king. He preaches one sermon and most of them leave. And that’s an example to you and I. The truth isn’t necessarily popular [old Ukrainian proverb, “Man who tells truth should keep his horse saddled.”] But he teaches one sermon. He says now, ‘Some of you do not believe. You’re here, acting as a follower, acting like you are interested’, but he understood the real heart, that the Father hadn’t drawn them, that they didn’t have ears to hear [and this, in spite of all the miracles done right before their eyes. Miracles do not reveal the truth of God if God the Father isn’t drawing that person with the Holy Spirit.] And then we have in verse 66, “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more.” Because it wasn’t an easy road to hear about. “Pick up your cross and follow me” Jesus said. But a lot of them turned around at that time and departed. So then, Jesus turns to the twelve and says “Do you also want to go away?” I love Peter’s response. He says ‘Lord, where shall we go? To whom shall we go? For you have the very words of life. You have the words of eternal life, and we know you’re the Messiah, we know you’re the Christ, the Son of the living God. Where would we go? This isn’t necessarily easy, there are times we don’t understand, but what else can we do but follow you and be with you.’ That is a great Scripture. And there’s times in my life I can relate to Peter’s response. I get to the point where I say, “God, I don’t understand what you’re doing, I don’t know what you mean by all this, some of this is a challenge for me, Lord. But where else can I go? I mean, it’s you, it’s all about you, so I’m gonna just follow. I’m gonna just trust. It doesn’t make much sense, some of these things you’re bringing me through, some of these things you’re teaching me right now I don’t get. But where else would I go? You have the words of life. And it doesn’t matter, it’s all about you, so I’m gonna just follow you Jesus.” And that’s a Scripture I can relate to at times in my life, that’s for sure. Well, he then refers to Judas, and man, we could go on and on and on talking about Judas. An amazing thing that he knows, he’s chosen the 12, and one of them is going to betray him. But we’ll talk more about that as we study more of the life of Judas. But Peter said “We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ.” There’s an order. We come to believe, and know. And that’s where it starts. Without faith it’s impossible to please God. I believe, I put my faith, I put my trust [in God, Jesus]. As I do, and then there’s a sureness, I know. But first I believe. The “know”, the sureness follows the belief. Hebrews chapter 11, verse 3, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God”, by faith we then understand. So, maybe you’re here this morning, and you’re wrestling, saying ‘I hear these things, but man, how can you know? How can you know this is true?’ Well it starts with faith. We believe, and we know. We believe first, I put my faith, and then I know. And I know what I know, that’s for sure. But it started one day when I went “Yes, I believe, Jesus, I believe in you.” Let’s close in prayer.” [sermon transcript of John 6:41-71, given somewhere in New England]
Comment: Jesus showed and gave proof of his Messiahship by all the miracles he performed right in front of their eyes. It wasn’t blind faith Jesus was expecting, as the pastor here doesn’t quite make clear. Jesus was performing the miracles God said the Messiah, God the Son, would perform as recorded in Isaiah 35:4-6, first when he was here as a human, and then as he’ll do at his 2nd coming. Jesus doesn’t expect blind faith. Prove his Messiahship first, and it can be done. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm, and then believe what you see proven. Then comes belief. Then comes asking Jesus into your life. They saw the miracles in person, and didn’t believe. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t give them proof. They didn’t want to believe.