Summary: God’s mercy and love is evident in his provision of living bread from heaven.
A Christianity Today poll (February 10, 1992), found that half of all Americans believe in extrasensory perception. One of every four professing Christians believe in clairvoyance, and almost half in psychic healing. 25% believe the movement of the stars governs the affairs of men and women.
You have seen the effect in the cards and books in the self-help sections at Hallmark and Borders: “New Age Spirituality”; “Do It Yourself Religion”; “The Higher Path”; “Self-Esteem”; and “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
I even found an e-zine entitled, The Care & Feeding of Empaths and Highly Sensitive Persons. “This ezine allows clairsentients and conscious empaths to co-create resources that allow us to tap into the Divine Guidance of our sensitivities.”
Spirituality without Jesus sells; but is it real? Can one commune with God through nature as well as through this worship service? Is God simply a higher dimension reached by an inner journey to the soul? Is it true that “the more you love yourself, the greater your connection with God/Spirit/Source”? Can there be true spirituality without Jesus?
The answer and some of the reasons are given in the text we are studying this morning. Please listen as we hear the grumbling against Jesus and his response.
[Read: John 6.41-59. Prayer.]
When I was a kid, school audiovisual presentations were “filmstrips,” a spool of 35 mm film with images—essentially a set of slides on one piece of film. The teacher played a record or cassette tape containing the narration for the filmstrip, and at an appropriate point a tone would sound, signaling the instructor to advance to the next frame.
Things are much better for my kids. Last week, as part of their study of WWII, we watched, The Longest Day, a classic film with dozens of famous actors, including John Wayne.
Much of the action centers on the allies efforts to take Omaha Beach. The Germans had every tactical advantage and hundreds of men were killed by machine gun fire. Eventually, however, cigar-chomping General Robert Mitchum develops a plan for success. A large concrete wall protecting a valley will be destroyed by dynamite and the men will pour through this one area and take control.
As he prepares his men to implement this plan, Mitchum gives a great speech, the culmination of which is: “I don’t care if you are injured; I do not want to know if you are hurt. There is only one condition for remaining on the beach and not following my orders—if you are already dead.”
And sure enough, after the bomb rips away the barrier, Mitchum stands and gives the signal, and troops pour through by the tens of thousands, overrunning the German defenses.
But some men did not rise from the sand and charge. Why not? Because they were dead. And why did tens of thousands get up and risk their lives for the cause? Because they heard the voice of the General. The General did not make them alive; but those who were alive, heard and attacked.
In John 6, Jesus explains (without embarrassment or uncertainty) the doctrine of election: “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” And, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” Why can none come to Jesus unless the Father draws? Because the dead cannot hear the voice of the General.
The Bible claims that the promises of its Gospel are the sweetest and most appealing every uttered. They are words of life, assurances of forgiveness, guarantees of a clean conscience, treats for the soul. If that is true, then why does not everyone respond in faith? Because not all are alive.
All children of Adam are born spiritually dead, unable and unwilling to hear the herald of hope. God must breathe life into a soul before it can believe. Then those who are alive will hear the voice of Jesus, and will follow his command.
This is, of course, offensive to man’s sense of self-worth and so the Jews grumbled when they heard Jesus speak. The same response is heard today when the sovereignty of God in salvation is taught. This should not surprise us—unbelievers inevitably condemn the gospel, for it does not please them. But Jesus does not rebuke in return; instead he teaches us three things. First, he explains why true spirituality is offered only through him—because he is the bread of life. Second, he reminds us that Father must draw people to true spirituality because he is the source of life, not their own doings. Then third, Jesus insists that you can find true life—through faith. The offer is true; how will you respond? To get there, first, please notice that…
1. Because Jesus is the Bread of Life, You Can Only Find True Spirituality Through Him (John 6.41-42)