Summary: A series exploring the seven miracles, and seven "I Am" statements in the Gospel of John. This message reflects on Jesus statement that "I am the bread of life."
(Preview flow of sermon series – Miracles w/ “I Am” statements)
Pick-up the reading in John 6:15 (read through verse 27).
Jesus hasn’t made the significant “I am. . .” statement yet at this point, but He is leading up to it and has begun to refer to this food that endures forever. This thing that they can partake of that will have a much more lasting impact on their lives than the bread and fish they ate on the mountainside.
And in this first statement the He is building to, this first dialogue, this first time of Jesus beginning to teach and introduce who He is, we encounter a number of challenges to the “I Am” statements. In fact, in this first one are revealed a number of challenges that creep up in various forms throughout the remainder of Jesus time on earth. Beginning to be revealed in response to this first statement and teaching that Jesus is the bread of life.
Let’s look at these challenges together. Verse 28. The first challenge is the. . .
1. LEGALISTIC CHALLENGE
Rather than accepting Christ for who He is. Rather than “being” a child of God. The people want to know how to “do” life like God.
Understand, it isn’t that it is bad to want to do the works of God. It is the motivation behind the works that causes the problem. If we are motivated to do the works because that is the only way we think we can partake of the bread of life, we will be misplacing our energies, and develop a legalistic mindset. We will develop a mindset of trying to earn this bread of life. Of working to achieve this eternal meal.
Many churches have gone astray by being to quick to answer, “What shall we do?” So we set people up with all the “do”s, and the “don’t”s of church life, and never teach them the “being” of the Christian life.
You may remember, in my personal vision statement I shared on January 1st that I want to work on finding my identity in who I am, not what I do. Have you ever walked up to someone and said, “Tell me about yourself?” What do they usually start with? What they do. But our identity should not be found in what we do, but in who we are.
We are “doing” based people. So it is our natural instinct when Jesus offers something to us for us to respond, “Great. What do I have to do to earn it?” The Legalistic Challenge.
Verse 29 (read through verse 31). The second challenge is the. . .
2. SUPERNATURALIST CHALLENGE
This really cracks me up, until I realize how guilty I am of this same mentality. Many of these people were probably the same people who had been fed the day prior by Jesus. They had just seen an incredible miracle. But now they want another sign.
We’re the same way, right? God works wonderful miracles in our lives. God’s hand clearly moves in our circumstances. But as soon as the next trial or difficulty comes along, “God, show me that you are real. Work a miracle.”
There are two problems with this challenge. First, the people Jesus was dealing with, and people today, have already shown that no matter how many signs they see, they aren’t going to receive Jesus for who He says He is.
Jesus is saying, “Look at the great miracles, and works that were done before these cities, and they still didn’t believe! One more miracle, one more supernatural act isn’t going to do it.” When you run into someone who says, “If God would just do this, I would believe in Him.” More times than not, no they won’t. Jesus already knows that now matter how many signs they see, those who pose the supernaturalist challenge aren’t going to receive Him for who He says He is.
A second problem with this challenge is that it is humanly focused. Jesus knows that the people are giving the credit for the manna to Moses. That is why they think they need a miracle from Jesus. “Moses did us one, and we believe in him. Now you do us one.”
But Jesus says, “That manna didn’t come from Moses.” The supernatural challenge is focused on humans, rather than on God, and based on the false presumption that one more work, one more miracle, will push us over the fence.
Verse 32 (read through verse 34). Well, they still don’t get it. So they present. . .
3. THE GLUTTONS CHALLENGE
“Okay. You say there is this bread from God that gives life. Well then, give it to us. In fact, keep giving it to us. Don’t stop. More, more, more. Give it to us always.” Again, it isn’t bad to desire to receive from God, but remember the unrelenting nature of this crowd. Selfishly focused on having their every need met. And now as Jesus is trying to teach them, and help them grow. . .they just keep saying, “Give me, give me, give me.”