Saturday, February 28, 2015

Whispers! -- John 7:11-18

Whispers! -- John 7:11-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 1, 2015

Have you ever had a vicious rumor spread about you or someone you know that was not true? I have. Gossip, like whispers in today's passage, can be like a burning fire and consume everything and anyone in its path. The Bible relates that "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts. (Proverbs 18:8 NIV)" In other words gossip can seem satisfying at first, but in reality it is like poison and affects those who participate in it and those who it is often about. It is like digested food, retained and remembered.

When folks gossip it says a lot about their character and what they value. How we handle gossip says a lot about who we are and our character as well. Jesus faced those who wanted to whisper or gossip about him and how he handled himself and those who wanted to spread rumors speaks volumes about Jesus' character and who he was. Let's find out what Jesus did about the whispers or gossip concerning him…

READ: John 7:11-18

Some folks make gossip a game. Douglas Adams, who wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' quipped that "Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules." Someone once wrote that "The Puritan's idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business." This could be said of the folks of Jesus' day as well. We discover that…

I. Whispers can fill the sails of speculation! (Vv. 11-14)

Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?" Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people." But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.

  1. The Jews, meaning the Scribes, Pharisees, Teachers of the Law and other enemies of Jesus expected him to be at one of the biggest Jewish festivals and so they "were watching for him and asking, 'Where is that man?'" The wording here denotes their disdain for Jesus and also their view of who they actually saw him as, a mere man and not the Messiah. Some surely wanted to find him and kill him, while others wanted to test his teaching or see some miracles. I believe some deliberately refused to name him publicly because of their contempt. Certainly there are those who think they might have been afraid of the Jewish leadership, but that does not make complete sense with the word usage and how we just learned they desired to kill him. It is easy to dismiss someone or gossip about them when one uses non-descriptive terminology rather than a personal name. Whatever the reason, we discover that "whisperers were divided as to who Jesus might be, "Some said, 'He is a good man.' Others replied, 'No, he deceives the people.'" Both whispers were erroneous because Jesus is more than just a good man and he certainly was no deceiver. However, the gossip had already begun its dirty work. The people were in fear of the Jewish leadership and this is why "no one would say anything publicly about him." Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him." Interestingly, we also learn from John that it was "Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach." It is then, at just the right time that Jesus begins to confront the whisperers. The gospel goes against the gossip. This is exactly what one has to do when confronted by gossip, teach the good news through our responses, attitude, and actions. Remember, whispers can fill the sails of speculation!

  EXAMPLE: Those who love to foster the sinister speculation of others do not like to face those they whisper about. Whisperers love to remain in the shadows of "she said, he said" "some say" or "it has been said." Twain said that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." When met with gossip Jesus confronted it with the gospel and we should as well. Jesus discovered that whispers can fill the sails of speculation!

When we talk frequently with God, we will speak the words we have heard. When we spend our time in speculation, we will discuss the lies we think we know. Again, we discover here in John's gospel that…

II. Whispers' winds are calmed by the truth! (Vv. 15-18)


The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?" Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

  1. When Jesus begins to confront his gossips with the gospel, "The Jews were amazed and asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having studied?'" My grandmother would say, "Ignorant folks think those they talk about are just as dumb as they are." This was the case here with the Jewish leadership and Jesus. They just could not believe this hayseed from Galilee could be so spiritually smart. As Jesus taught he did not teach as others did, he taught with authority and the truth. Jesus was not like those who wanted to garner other men's praise, he desired that his listeners only know and understand the words of God. They were surprised at Jesus' knowledge of the Scriptures; that he should be familiar with them; to be able to intelligently interpret them and give them sense and meaning in a clear concise manner as he did! Jesus answers his gossiping critics, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me." He only taught what he learned from God. How much better would the world be if this were the case today in many of our lives as well. In fact if his listeners wanted to make sure what Jesus taught was the truth or not, all they had to do was the wil of God. He relates, "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." Later on in John's gospel Jesus would confront his skeptics by telling them, "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. (John 12:49-50 NIV)" Jesus knew where their problem was, it found in their pride. The Jewish leadership thought they were the keepers of God's words, his law, and now they were being confronted with the truth. This is why he continued by telling them, " He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." The true goal of anyone should be to glorify God! In a sense, Jesus is exactly what we were meant to be! We were meant to be holy and teach the truth of God to others! When others began to gossip about Jesus, he confronted them with the truth! Whispers' winds are calmed by the truth!

  EXAMPLE: I like what Dennis DeHaan wrote concerning telling the truth, "How prone we are to lying! With a stroke of exaggeration here, an omitted detail there, or a misleading silence we distort the truth. Yet truth is the foundation and superstructure of all relationships. Remove the girders of truth, and society crumbles in on itself. This moral absolute is so self-evident that even criminals punish their own who lie to them. The ninth commandment forbids purposeful deceit against our neighbor and underscores the sacredness of truth in all our dealings. The two Hebrew words used for "false" in Exodus 20:16 and in Deuteronomy 5:20 mean "untrue" and "insincere." Any expression of insincerity and untruthfulness, therefore, is bearing false witness against our neighbor. This commandment also exposes two underlying motives that God hates—malice and pride. When we lie, it is usually to cast a person in a bad light or to place ourselves in a good light. The first springs from malice, the second from pride. Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John. 14:6 NIV)' The closer we are to Him, the more truthful we will become with ourselves and with others. The question is, 'Are we followers of Him who is the truth?'" Whispers' winds are calmed by the truth!

Conclusion:

Whispers can fill the sails of speculation! Whispers' winds are calmed by the truth!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Family, what are you going to do? -- John 7:1-10

Family, what are you going to do? -- John 7:1-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 22, 2015

A comedian once quipped, "The problem with relatives is that they tend to be family." I am not sure exactly what he meant by that, but I am sure there are some folks in our families we would rather not relate to. Families can be close or they can be dysfunctional, sadly, far too many in our day and age are the latter. We know that Jesus had younger brothers; James, Joseph, Jude and Simon to name four (Mark 6:3), and some sisters as well. We also know that Mary was his mother was still alive and yet Joseph, his adoptive father, was probably dead by the time he began his ministry. And, we also discover that his family did not fully understand Jesus' calling nor who he was (Mark 3:21, 31) and tried to dissuade him from following the path God had set for him.

I remember well when I decided to follow God's calling in my life, how my own family reacted. It wasn't all rose blossoms and birds singing. In fact, they kind of thought I was weird in doing so because at the time, none of them understood what it meant. Here in John's gospel we discover Jesus' family, namely some of his brothers, attempting to get Jesus to do what they desired instead of following what God desired. Isn't that the way sometimes families can be? Family, what are you going to do? let's discover what this meant for Jesus and what we can learn from it this morning…

READ: John 7:1-10

A builder in California has come up with an innovative idea to sell his houses. He thinks that a good way to make a house more appealing is to have a family there when showing the house. So he hires actors to play happy families in his company’s model homes. Would-be buyers can ask them questions about the house. Each fake family cooks, watches television, and plays games while house-hunters wander through. Have you ever wanted to hire a fake family? Here in John's gospel we discover that in the case of Jesus' family…

I. Faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one's family! (Vv. 1-5)

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

  1. This short section is kind of a pause between another confrontation with Jesus and the religious authorities of his day. And in the midst of the mix we find his own family getting into the act of trying to discourage him from doing what God desired him to do. After Jesus faced off with those who followed him around the Sea of Galilee for food, he now confronts his own brothers. We learn that " Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life." Jesus was not stupid and his time had not yet come for him to begin the confrontation that would ultimately lead to his sacrificial death and resurrection. And, in fact, "when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.'" The Bible Knowledge Commentary relates that "The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the three great Jewish feasts… This feast, also called the Feast of Ingathering, was a time of thanksgiving for harvest. It was a happy time; devout Jews lived outdoors in booths made of tree branches for seven days as a reminder of God’s provision in the desert during their forefather’s wanderings. The feast also signified that God dwells with His people." So, it would not be unusual for Jesus' family to encourage him to go, what greater place than Jerusalem and this feast to show himself to the world! Perhaps they had seen many of his disciples leave after his difficult teachings concerning himself. Perhaps they were trying to push Jesus into publicly proclaiming who he was. Whatever the case, it was not Jesus' desire at this time. And, we learn that "even his own brothers did not believe in him." There is the truth of the matter. We discover that faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one's family!

  EXAMPLE: Over the decades I have had many folks try to assume they are closer to God because of a family member who was a missionary, pastor, or deacon. Nothing could be further from the truth. Faith is not inherited. It is not a birthright. Being the son of a pastor, the grandson of a preacher or the nephew of a deacon does not guarantee one's salvation. What your granddaddy, great granddaddy or auntie did has no bearing on the outcome of one's life in Christ. Certainly their Godly influence could have had an effect, but spirituality and salvation are one's individual decision to make and live. Faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one's family!

Have you ever had one of those spontaneous moments where one of you cries out, "Family hug!" then you all gather around each other and give one great big bear hug? Of course there is always one killjoy who does not want to be part of this embarrassing scene. That is when you have to insist they join in or else suffer the consequences. You might have to do it in public when they least expect it! Here in John's gospel Jesus teaches us that…

II. Faith demands we act in spite of our family! (Vv 6-10)


Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

  1. Like many of us, Jesus' own family misunderstands him. And "Therefore Jesus told them, 'The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.'" His timing was different from his own family's desire. They in fact could come and go as they pleased, his life was dictated by different motives than theirs. Jesus always pleased his heavenly father, so his life and what he did with it was directed by his father's will. It was not time for him to be sacrificed for the whole world. He tells them bluntly, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." Being part of a sinned stained world, his brothers and their actions would not be disdained or hated by it, but his actions that were directed by the father and therefore were holy, would be hated! The world has its religions, its programs, its plans, its values, but Christ witnessed that it is all evil. This is why much of what believers do in life is disdained by the world or in fact seen as stupid. It is contrary to how the rest of the world reacts and works. He then tells them, "You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." Here is a difficult thing for some because they wonder, "Was Jesus lying, since he eventually did go to the Feast?" The answer is "no". Jesus simply refused to be pushed into a hasty decision by his brothers to do that which might not be what God desired! In fact, the rendering here strongly suggests that after a time of reflection, of staying in Galilee, and "after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also." However, notice Jesus went privately, in secret and not publicly as his brothers tried to push him to do. Remember, there were those who were now plotting to kill Jesus. However, Jesus never allowed himself to be pressured or pushed into doing someone else's will, he only did what his father in heaven told him to do. Faith demands we act in spite of our family!

  EXAMPLE: Working on the playground I have come into contact with a lot of children who come from dysfunctional homes. Many spend their free time watching TV or playing video games. I am concerned that far too many families use these things as babysitting tools instead of including their children in family life. We want to be aware that some of the things we do to make our lives easier can actually deprive our kids. Children need to mix with older generations so they can hear the stories of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents. They need a regular meal time where they sit down and eat with one another. This helps them learn from those who have gone before them. Even single parents need to have a suppertime where they learn about their children's day. Can this be difficult and will our kids always want to share? The answer again is "no" but we can insist and begin to also introduce them to how to use their faith during these times. Faith demands we act in spite of our family!

Conclusion:

Faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one's family! Faith demands we act in spite of our family!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jesus saves when God selects! -- John 6:60-71

Jesus saves when God selects! -- John 6:60-71
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 15, 2015

We often hear that hindsight is better than foresight, meaning that we know the past but not what the future brings in life. There are those who spend large sums of money in order to discover what the future holds. Houdini, the great escape artist and magician spent years debunking mediums and spiritist frauds that scammed innocent people of their hard-earned money. Houdini's training in magic allowed him to expose frauds who had successfully fooled many scientists and academics. He was a member of a Scientific American committee that offered a cash prize to any medium who could successfully demonstrate supernatural abilities. None was able to do so, and the prize was never collected. Christians would do well to remember what God told the Israelites concerning such things, "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:31 NIV)"

One thing we can rest assured in is the fact that once we are chosen of God, he never leaves us nor forsakes us. It is interesting to note that even Jesus' disciples had a hard time accepting his teaching on the fact that we must "eat of his flesh and drink of his blood", meaning we need to place our faith and trust in him completely. And, like some today, they had a hard time accepting that God chooses us and knows who will come to him or not. It is a matter of Jesus saves when God selects. Let's find out what John writes concerning the subject…

READ: John 6:60-71

When we focus on the wrong thing, we can be easily confused. This is why magicians are so successful, they are able to make us focus our attention in the wrong direction in order for them to pull of their trickery. Jesus was not trying to fool anyone and in fact addresses his disciples' concern head on. In understanding the truth…

I. Jesus saves when God selects, we should not focus on the wrong thing! (Vv. 60-64)


On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

  1. People have not changed at all. They acted just the same in Jesus' day as they do in our day and age. The crowd grumbled at Jesus' tough teaching on who he was and now we discover that those who were his disciples grumbled as well, "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'" Yet we know they were focused on the wrong thing. They could not get past the notion of Jesus saying, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (John 6:56 NIV)" And that Jesus had just reminded them that the manna they demanded would only lead to death while the bread of life he offered brought eternal life! Jesus was not talking about flesh and blood issues, but rather sacrifice and eternal life concerns! How humorous to note that Jesus was "Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this" and so he bluntly asks them, "Does this offend you?" Does this scandalize your sensitivities? Are you in shock over what I just told you? So he then turns the tables on them and relates, " What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!" And in fact, they would do so! They would see him ascend into heaven and they would be told by God's messenger, his angel, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11 NIV)" Jesus then gives them an important piece of advice, one that we would do well to remember, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." Nothing else matters in this life than the words of Jesus! And in fact, he reiterated that "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." They were spiritual truth, they are spiritual truth, and only his words mean anything for eternity! Yet, while he was saying this, he knew who would betray him, but it did not matter. What mattered was the truth. Jesus saves when God selects, we should not focus on the wrong thing!

  EXAMPLE: There is an old saying that states, "He can't see the forest for the trees." It means the person might be focusing in the wrong thing in life. Money, family, sickness, jobs, or school are just some of things that take our focus off the correct thing in life and give us narrowed vision. One time, a disciple of Jesus, requested that he be permitted to return home and bury his father. This man’s father was not dead or even at the point of death. This disciple was simply saying he wanted to return home and wait until his father died. Then he would return and follow Jesus. His request demonstrated he felt discipleship was something he could pick up or lay down at will. He put material concerns ahead of Jesus, for he apparently wanted to receive the estate when his father died. Jesus’ response, Let the dead bury their own dead, showed that following Him carried with it the highest priority. Jesus said that in the grand scheme of things the physically dead could be cared for by those who are already spiritually dead. He needed to focus on what truly mattered in life. Jesus saves when God selects, we should not focus on the wrong thing!

It can be hard for our finite minds to grasp the infinite truth that God knows our beginning and our ending. Job would remind us, "How great is God--beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. (Job 36:26 NIV)" and David would sing, "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:15-16 NIV)" It should not surprise us then that…

II. Jesus saves when God selects, and he has selected you! (Vv. 65-71)

He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

  1. While the disciples were trying to wrap their heads around what Jesus was trying to teach them, he gives them something else to ponder. "He went on to say, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.'" Jesus not only knew who would betray him, he already knew who would come to him! And, it was God who enabled them to come to him in the first place! Now because of their traditions and their spiritual blindness to what God was doing in their midst, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." His rejecting their desire to make Him their political king; His demand for personal faith; His teaching on atonement; His stress on total human inability and on salvation as a work of God — all these proved to be unpalatable for many people. They gave up being His disciples. -- (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) Jesus had many who had followed him until now and so he asks his closest disciples, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" The truth was that his own disciples, the apostles, would struggle with who he was even after his resurrection! But now Jesus is trying to refine their faith and to help them understand that their faith was far more important than they understood. They in fact would be the heralds of a new covenant with God. Peter who is often quick to respond and slow to think through his actions correctly responds, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." Peter was not confessing Jesus as a good teacher, another great master, but as the Messiah! No one else has the gift of eternal life. “We have believed and have known” is a better translation of the Greek. Where else indeed could they go for the words of life? Certainly not the old and tired works-oriented misguided temple worship of Jesus' day. Just as they chose to follow Jesus, he had first chosen them to be his inner circle, his disciples, the apostles. He tells Peter, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" John in his hindsight writes, "He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him." Jesus knew one of them would or could betray him, and in fact any one of them could, yet he had chosen each of them to follow him just as God elects us now. Jesus saves when God selects, and he has selected you!

  EXAMPLE: My father used to play a game with us where we had to select which hand we wanted. We learned to be careful which one we chose because he never relented and gave us the other choice when we picked wrong. When God selects us we think that his predestination is unfair because we equate it with getting the short end of the stick, so-to-speak. Nothing could be further from the truth. God's desire is that all mankind come to know him personally, but in his omniscience, God already knows who will  and who will not to choose to come to him for salvation. Not everyone chooses eternal life. If you are being prompted today to give your life to Christ, do so because we have learned that Jesus saves when God selects, and he has selected you!

Conclusion:

Jesus saves when God selects, we should not focus on the wrong thing! Jesus saves when God selects, and he has selected you!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The bread of life! -- John 6:34-59

The bread of life! -- John 6:34-59
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 8, 2015

They say that a person's sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory trigger inducers. You can smell a certain scent and it will immediately remind you of a person, place, or time of your life. I know this is true because when I smell Aqua Velva, an aftershave lotion, it immediately reminds me of my father. the same is true for fresh baked bread. The smell instantly reminds me of my mother's kitchen when I was growing up and the smell of her wonderful bread. She made the best bread in the world. We could hardly wait to get a thick warm slice with melted butter or peanut butter.

As I expressed before, bread was an important part of everyday life during Jesus' day. It was how people survived and was the meal for even the poorest of folks. However, it was not like the bread we enjoy today. It was flat, ,chewy, small, round, thick, and kind of tasteless, but it sustained people for the day. It was often dipped in olive oil or wine. And here in John's gospel we discover Jesus referring to himself as the bread of life. Its meaning carried with it several important connotations. Let's find what Jesus meant and John wrote about the bread of life…

READ: John 6:34-59

First, we discover that…

I. Jesus is the bread of life! (Vv. 34-40)


"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

  1. The crowd still wants free food, but not just free, they want it for as long as they can get it. This is why they responded by telling Jesus, "from now on give us this bread." From now on sustain us! When Jesus had earlier told them that the bread he gave gives "life to the world" they understood it to mean it would sustain everyone! And in fact it does but not in the way they thought. The sustenance Jesus gives is that of eternal significance. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." It is a personal relationship Jesus calls us to and it satisfies forever! We must be willing to partake of the spiritual food, gospel, Jesus offers in order to gain any sustenance from it, then we will not spiritually thirst or go hungry. Yet, like some today, even though they hear Jesus' words and see the truth for themselves, they still do not believe. Jesus told them that in fact, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." When we beg for this bread of life, God willingly gives it! And he has chosen to gi e it to us and will not play games with us by giving it and taking it away. For Jesus the reason was obvious, he tells his listeners, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." This is the promise of God that his Son will not lose anyone who comes to him for salvation. It is dependent up his promise and not our guilty conscious. When we come to Jesus by faith we can rest assured when he returns that none of us will be lost  and we will be raised up on the last day! The truth is, Jesus reminds us, "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Jesus is the bread of life!

  EXAMPLE: M.F.K. Fisher, in "The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition" wrote that "The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...[and bread-making is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread." Mahatma Gandhi said that "There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread." In John's gospel we learn that Jesus is the bread of life!

II. Jesus is the sacrificial bread! (Vv. 41-51)

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I came down from heaven'?" "Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "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: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

  1. You can give people free bread, but often they will want butter to go with it as well! Some people are never satisfied. The "Jews began to grumble about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.'" They gripped because they thought they knew Jesus, he was one of their own. Like many small towns, everyone knew everyone else's business, or so they thought. Yet this tells me some important things concerning Jesus that are often missed. They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I came down from heaven'?" Jesus was like most boys growing up! No one noticed anything out of the ordinary about him as a lad. He was very Jewish in his countenance and upbringing. This fulfills what Isaiah wrote concerning the Messiah to come, "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2 NIV)" They did not think Jesus could do what he said nor did they believe he was who he claimed to be because he was Jesus, Joseph's son. Yet, Jesus rebuts them by relating, "Stop grumbling 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." He can and will do exactly what he said he could do! "It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." If they listened to Jesus' words and believed they would have known the truth of God, because it would be God drawing them to himself! Jesus had seen the Father because he was with him from the beginning and all things were created through him! He then bluntly lays out the spiritual truth for them so they will fully understand it, "I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Jesus is the sacrificial bread!

  EXAMPLE: Part of the setup of the Jewish temple was the table of showbread. It was an important focal point of worship for the Hebrew people. The showbread of the temple consisted of twelve loaves made of the finest flour. They were baked flat and thin, and were placed in two rows of six each on a table in the holy place before the Lord. They were renewed every Sabbath and the old ones were to be eaten by the priests only in the holy place. The number of the loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and also the entire spiritual Israel, the true Israel; and the placing of them on the table symbolized the entire consecration of the Hebrew people to the Lord, and their acceptance of God as their God. Jesus is the sacrificial bread!

III. The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses! (Vv. 52-59)

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, 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 real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

  1. Far too many can only see as far as their noses. They only want what the world offers and do not care for the eternal things God has given us. The crowd first focused on the free food Jesus provided, then they focused on him giving them more of it, and finally they are focusing their attention on the wrong truth! The " Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'" Jesus was not condoning cannibalism nor sacramentalism whereby the bread and wine would mystically turn into his flesh and blood! Rather, Jesus was teaching the eternal truth that unless you come to him, "eat of his flesh… and drink his blood", in other words trust in his death and sacrifice, "you have no life in you"! The truth for Jesus is the fact that, "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 real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him." The Jews were appalled at such a prospect because they could not see past their own prejudices of him being a small town boy and their preconceived notion of who God was. Jesus was teaching metaphorically. The person who could get past their spiritual ignorance and accept the truth of Jesus' atonement, his sacrificial death and resurrection for them, they will be saved! In fact Jesus responds, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." Moses' providing manna in the wilderness did not save anyone, in fact they all eventually died, but now we all can live when we receive Jesus by faith. The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses!

  EXAMPLE: When the Hebrew people sinned against God by not trusting him, they had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. While there, God provided food for them in the form of manna and quail. The name manna is said to derive from the question man hu, seemingly meaning "What is it?" from the question the Israelites asked Moses. Only those who were deemed holy could eat the bread and it had to be eaten in a holy place, but now we hear Jesus saying that we are to partake of him to become holy. Jesus is the sacrificial bread! The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses!

Conclusion:

Jesus is the bread of life! Jesus is the sacrificial bread! The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.