Summary: When Jesus announced I AM the Bread of Life, people walked out on Him for 3 reasons.
I AM series #1
I AM the Bread of Life
Ever since I first saw those beautiful stained glass projects on our sanctuary walls, I have wanted to take a closer look at the I AM statements of Jesus Christ. In fact, I wish we could commission that same stained glass crew to make presentations for the other 6 of Jesus’ I AM statements. We could place them on the side walls and fill this room with the statements of Jesus about himself.
In doing some research I discovered that all of Jesus’ I AM statements are found in John’s gospel. They include:
1. I am the bread of Life which came down from heaven (6:35,41,51)
2. I am the light of the world (8:12; 9:5)
3. I am the door of the sheep (10:7,9)
4. I am the good shepherd (10:11,14)
5. I am the son of God (10:36)
6. I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
7. I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
8. I am the (true) vine (15:1,5)
Each one of the I AM ‘s represents a particular relationship of Jesus to the spiritual NEEDS of men and women. Jesus is the Light in the darkness, the Gate to security, and the Shepherd that guides. He is the way, the truth and the life. In every one of these we see that Jesus wants us to receive him, NOT for the gifts he can give us, but for what he can BE to us. Right after the feeding of the 5 thousand Jesus made the first of the recorded I AM statements.
This was the point where Jesus had reached the apex of his popularity. In fact, the crowds wanted to take him --- by force if necessary --- and MAKE him their King. Because of this, Jesus crossed the lake to get away from their demands. But the next day when they figured out where he was, the growing crowd commandeered boats and followed him across the lake.
It was at that point that Jesus told a record-breaking crowd: "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. John 6:35
John chapter 6 tells us they grumbled, they mumbled, they argued, they whined, and ultimately they left --- in droves. The text gives us some clues as to the kind of people that left Jesus behind when he preached the “bread of life” sermon. For one thing, the MATERIALISTIC folks just couldn’t stomach it when Jesus shifted from physical food to spiritual talk.
1. The Materialist
Many of the people who followed Jesus at this point were hoping for a political savior. They wanted political solutions, free handouts, and material goodies. For them Jesus was the latest and greatest gravy train. These people had watched Rome have limited success by instituting a sort of welfare program that they called a Bread for Peace. There were many hungry, jobless, homeless people in Rome. So the government tried to avoid riots by buying them off with goodies. The plan backfired, because the demands of the crowd simply grew and grew.
Well, Jesus knew that he faced a similar problem the day after he fed the masses with barley cakes and salt-dried fish. In fact, when the crowd arrived, look at how he greeted them. He said: "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. John 6:26
On a very minor scale, I can see how Jesus felt. (example of putting out a bird feeder) When we looked out the window we had a menagerie in the back yard. Squirrels were hanging upside down, gorging on sunflower seed. Birds were all over the ground and the deck, and even ramming into the windows. But did they appreciate us? Did they have any sense of loyalty in return for our generosity? The next day, when the bird feeder was empty, all we got were some disgruntled looks before the birds and squirrels completely deserted us.
Missionaries in third-world countries often talk about “Rice Christians.” These are people who will quickly convert to Christianity in exchange for food or some other physical benefit. The problem with Rice Christians is that when goodies are gone, so are they.
American Christians are not so different. Too many people use church for business contacts or community status. Rice Christians can be found all over the world. These people look to God only for what they can get. They are quick to turn their back on God the first time he fails to deliver.
Jesus told the crowd: Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. John 6:27