Summary: How Christ is the eseential, fundamental need of our lives.
I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE
I am sure you can remember from Sunday school days the story of Moses. When God called Moses to go to the people of Israel in slavery in Egypt Moses asked God who should he say had sent him to them? God’s reply is found in Exodus 3.14” I AM that I AM.” When we turn to John’s gospel we find 7occasions when Jesus applies that phrase ‘I AM’ to himself. On each occasion Jesus further explained it by adding to it. This morning we are going to begin a series of sermons which will take us through each of those ‘I am…’ sayings. Turn with me to John 6 and the first of these sayings.
Allow me to set the context of the passage we are going to look at this morning. At the beginning of chapter 6 we have the miracle of feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 small fish on the shores of Sea of Galilee. The people had wanted to make Jesus king after this miracle and so he sends his disciples across the lake whilst he withdraws further up the mountain. During the hours of darkness a storm gathers and the disciples are in danger in the boat and Christ comes to them walking on water and we read that immediately he is in the boat they reach their destination. It is now the next day and the crowd who had witnessed the feeding miracle have found him again in Capernaum, the other side of the lake. If you look at the end of the chapter you will see that Christ is in the synagogue.
VERSES 25-29 GIVE US A BREAD.
When we turn to verse 25 following we see the focus of the crowds hearts. They have found Christ and initially they are surprised and curious as to how he had gotten to Capernaum. In verse 26 Christ immediately challenges their hearts and the reason they are seeking him. He points out ‘bread’ (food) is their immediate concern. They have sought him because the day before he had provided a meal for them but Christ’s desire is that their hearts would be moved from the temporal to the eternal, from physical food to spiritual food (v27). Once again we see the materialistic mindset of these people and their spiritual blindness. In verse 28 they ask what is the ‘work they must do’ in order to receive this bread of which Christ speaks. They think they have to earn it. They believe there is something they could do that would merit the giving of this bread. How slow of heart and mind they really are. But before we condemn them we should realise how often we fall into the ‘works’ mindset when it comes to the things of God. Jesus quickly points out that the only work required of them is ‘belief in the one sent by the Father’ (v29). Keep that in your mind as we move through this passage as it will recur again and again.
VERSES 30-33 BREAD FROM HEAVEN.
In verses 30-31 we see how the hearts of the crowd were fixed on the provision of physical food. They speak of the gracious provision of manna by God for the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for those forty years. You remember the story – the people begin to grumble against Moses that they have no food and God provides manna for them. The manna fell each day and each day they had sufficient for all their needs. If they tried to gather more than they needed, or stored it over night, then it went putrid but the amazing thing was that on the eve of the Sabbath they could gather double and it did not putrefy. Each person, irrespective of age, status or effort, was provided with an omer of manna each day. For 40 years God graciously provided for them in the wilderness. The people cite this provision and mistakenly credit its provision to Moses. They challenge Christ to provide such ‘manna’ for them now. Christ corrects them and states that it was God the Father who had provided the ‘manna’ and who has now provided another ‘bread from heaven’ (verses 32-33). This is the ‘true bread’ from heaven and is distinct from ‘manna’ in that this ‘bread’ ‘gives life to the world.’ A clear echo of John 1 where John speaks of the ‘life of men’ coming into the world – the Incarnation.