Good Morning… Blah blah blah…
Stuff around loving John… Reading Keller, go through it a few times a year… And it always gets better…
I love looking at the interactions Jesus has with the people in John… What I love is that Jesus gives people what they need, not always what they are looking for. Sometimes he heals and offers words of life. Other times he calls us and rebukes when people come with the wrong motive. Jesus knows what the people are after and offers them truth… And he offers them grace…
We are going to look at a passage today that is very similar to what we looked at last week. But there is a glaring difference. The audience… Last week the woman at the well took what Jesus was offering her, the water of eternal life. She was so transformed by that interaction she literally told her whole town about Jesus.
Today we are going to look at a similar story… But in this case the audience isn’t receptive and have the wrong motive. And I want to say that right off the bat because we need to understand who Jesus is talking with. This conversation would have been DRASTICALLY different if they acted more like the woman from last week.
But before we get to the story let me start off with a question… Don’t worry you don’t have to share with anyone else… But I’m going to ask you to be honest with yourself….
What do you want most in life? (SLIDE)
What are you chasing? What are you after? What is it that you think you can’t live without?
Now if you are like me you are probably thinking of idealistic things… Things you WANT your life to be about. LIST A FEW…
But be honest… What REALLY is the most important thing in your life?
What is the first thing you think about in the morning? What’s the thing you google the most? What do you worry about the most? What do you talk to others about the most? What do you read the most about? What can you just not get off your mind? What the thing your friends, spouse, family, would say is most important to you?
What do you want most in life?
I don’t really like that question. Because when I answer it honestly it reveals things in me I don’t like. When i first read that question my gut reaction is Jesus… The most important thing to me is my relationship with Jesus.
And hear me on this… That’s what I want to be the most important thing in my life. But there are other things competing for that spot.
If I’m honest there are times when Jesus isn’t them most important thing in my life. Sure I’ll say he is. But my actions, my thoughts, what I do shows something has overtaken that role.
What’s that for you? Is your job? That next promotion? That relationship you are in or desperately want?
For me it’s my pursuit of more. If I’m not careful I get caught up in that next THING I need. The next piece of tech, the next improvement for my house. There’s always some else i want or think I need.
I’m not saying those things are bad things, but they aren’t ultimate things. And anytime a good thing because an ultimate thing ultimately it becomes dangerous.
And the reality is, whether you are a Christian or whether you are just checking this thing out. You worship something… Everybody worships something…
We have a misunderstanding of worship… worship simply means to give worth to something or someone. So those songs we sang we were giving worth to God. But really our worship is much more than just songs… Our whole life is worshiping something… We just get to choose what…
Explain David Wallace… Author and Professor… In a commencement speech said this…
Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. David Foster Wallace (SLIDE)
We are going to look at a story here… And it’s an interesting story. It takes place the day after Jesus feed 5,000 with just a few loaves and a fish. An incredible miracle. And now the people that saw that miracle, that ate their fill off of Jesus food now want more.
Rather than go home and return to their jobs they chase down Jesus. Walking/running over 10 miles to find him on the other side of the lake.
When they finally find him they ask how he got there so fast when it took them all night… Jesus ignores that questions… In truth he had cheated and walked on the water across the lake.
Instead he side steps their questions and responds… Instead he responds to their hearts…
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:26 - 27 (SLIDE)
You need to understand something here… We live in a culture where very few people are actually starving. Almost everyone has access to food. And most of us have access to more food than we could possible every eat. But that is not true for much of the world. And it was certainly not true for the people following Jesus. Food was scarce.
So when you found a source of food you followed it. Because food was life. It was the most important thing to them. We might not fully grasp that because we have so much. But this was a BIG deal to them.
And Jesus, because he’s you know Jesus, knows what they are after… They want an other free meal.. They wanted to see an other magic trick. They followed Jesus not because of who he was, rather because of what he could do for them. They were after bread to sustain their temporary life, but Jesus was trying to give them eternal life.
Here’s what they are after… (Pull out loaf of bread)
That’s all they could think about… They didn’t want Jesus, he was just a means to an end. He was a way they could get what they were really after…
So what is this (the bread) for you? What is it you are after?
Maybe for you your deepest desire is money… Maybe it’s your health… Maybe it’s a relationship… You won’t be happy until you have him or her… Maybe it’s power… That promotion…
We all have some kind of bread we are after… So what’s yours?
Jesus is going to continue on. And he’s going to run with this illustration of bread. The thing they think they can’t live without… As we read the rest of this passage maybe replace bread with whatever it is that’s important to you, your bread.
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” John 6:28 - 31 (SLIDE)
Hold up… Jesus literally just did this… Not even 24hrs ago they ate their fill on bread and fish… An incredible miracle.
They reveal their true colors here… They are just trying to trick Jesus into doing it again. They just want a free meal.
But again… Put yourself there. What’s your bread? What is that thing you pray for and try to trick God into giving you? God if you just give me… This (hold up the bread) Then I will NEVER miss church again… I’ve give 20% of my money away… Okay maybe not 20, but at least 10%… Okay, 5%… What is this bread to you?
32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” John 6:28 - 34 (SLIDE)
Jesus points out to them that they are after the wrong thing. They want what is temporary… But what they should be after is enteral.
What we are going to see in their response and throughout the rest of this interaction is a huge disconnect. They want physical, literal, bread. And Jesus response is clear… His lesson clear, “Look beyond the flesh.” But they don’t get it. They can’t get past this (Hold up the bread)… Jesus keeps telling them I came to give you eternal life. Bread that will not spoil… And they keep saying… Yeah yeah yeah… That’s great. But that bread yesterday was pretty tasty… Maybe you could give us more of that…
Let’s be honest… You can probably see yourself in that a little bit right? I know I can. That’s me sometimes. God has SO much for me but I can’t get past this (Bread…)
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (SLIDE)
They said give us this eternal bread… So Jesus gives them an other chance…. I am that eternal bread. If you follow me. You will be fully satisfied.
Now don’t miss this… Jesus is not saying follow me and I will GIVE you your desires. Jesus is not saying follow me and you will have all the bread you could ever want. Rather he’s saying if you follow me I will be your bread. I alone will satisfy you.
But the crowd didn’t get it… And neither do we…
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (SLIDE)
In other words they grumbled because they didn’t get what they wanted… Yesterday they were willing to inaugurate Jesus as king because he gave them what they wanted. But today, when Jesus asks for their allegiance, they reject him.
Let’s make this personal… If Jesus doesn’t give you this (bread) will you follow him?
Jesus is after you. He wants you. He doesn’t want you to follow him just because of what you can get from him. We wants you to follow him because of him.
About 7 years ago my wife and I started dating. Never once during that time did she demand that I pay for our dates or force me to buy her gifts. When I purposed she never demanded that I buy her an expense ring. But just imagine with me what is she did… What if she demanded that I buy her things, and if I don’t she’ll leave me. How would I feel? How would you feel? If your spouse, your boy/girlfriend came to you and said unless you do x, y, z… Then I’m leaving you…
You see that’s what we are doing to God. He wants a relationship with you… And we in turn say… Alright we can be in a relationship. BUT. You’ve gotta do somethings for me. And if you don’t I’m not going to follow you… You see how backwards that is? That kind of attitude destroys relationships.
Think about your kids… If you don’t have kids think back to when you were a kid… Suppose a child goes to their parents and says if you don’t give me this toy… I will no longer consider you my parent… My love for you is dependent on you giving me this… That’s not healthy. How would the parent feel?
You see the parent might buy that toy to show their child they love them. But the child shouldn’t love their parent because of what they could get… They should love their parent because they are their parent.
Do you see the difference in approach? Following God doesn’t mean we will never get our bread… He very well might give us some of what we enjoy… But that shouldn’t be following God for what we will get. We should follow God because we love him and want to be with him.
Do you see what Jesus is getting at? The crowd doesn’t want him… They want what he can give them. Jesus is trying to show them they are missing the point. He’s trying to tell them that this bread they want pails in comparison to the eternal bread he has for them. They are settling for something much less than what Jesus has for them. They’ve settled…
And we do the same don’t we? Many of us settle… We settle for something so much less than what Jesus has for us. Why? Because we can’t get past this (Hold up bread).
Jesus goes on to teach back into their history and continues to show what he means. But they just don’t get it. They can’t get past the bread… They can’t get passed thinking about their next meal…
What can’t you get past… Put yourself there. Think about your prayers. Jesus is trying to give something so great. But what do you settle for? What is the bread that is distracting you?
Jesus finally ends with this statement…
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (SLIDE)
Jesus is advocating cannibalism. And he’s not talking about communion. He’s simply running with the metaphor that he’s been using the whole time. They want bread. And Jesus desperately wants them to know that the bread they are after will only offer momentary satisfaction. It will only sustain for a few hours. But he, what he offers, will last all eternity.
He’s telling us to not try to get from something or someone what you can only get from God. (leave up) The crowd wanted bread… But Jesus was offering way more then a free meal. ?
We all worship something… The crowd worshiped bread… And you and I worship something too…
And the reality is if you worship something other than Jesus it will only leave you empty. What ever that thing is for you it will only leave you wanting more…
Remember that quote we looked at in the beginning? I want to go back to it. David got to the top of his profession. He was an award-winning, bestselling postmodern novelist known around the world for his boundary-pushing storytelling. He once wrote a sentence that was more than a thousand words long. A few years before the end of his life, he gave a now-famous commencement speech at Kenyon College. He said to the graduating class,
Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. David Foster Wallace (SLIDE)
He went on to say…
And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god . . . to worship . . . is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before [your loved ones] finally plant you. . . . Worship power, and you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they are evil or sinful; it is that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
Wallace was by no means a religious person, but he understood that everyone worships, everyone trusts in something for their salvation, everyone bases their lives on something that requires faith. A couple of years after giving that speech, Wallace killed himself. And this nonreligious man’s parting words to us are haunting: “Something will eat you alive.” Because even though you might never call it worship, you can be absolutely sure you are worshipping and you are seeking. And Jesus says, “Unless you’re worshipping me, unless I’m the center of your life, unless you’re trying to get your spiritual thirst quenched through me and not through these other things, unless you see that the solution must come inside rather than just pass by outside, then whatever you worship will abandon you in the end.
If you are here this morning and aren’t following Jesus… Don’t miss this… You are worshiping something… You just get to choose what you will worship. What this passage teaches us is that unless you are worshiping Jesus, what you are worshiping will eat you alive…
And I think we know that’s true… Don’t we? We just don’t want to believe it. Look at the ultra rich, the celebs, the powerful… The people that have what we want… They are miserable… But still we think well I’d sure like to try… I’d sure like to have that and see what it’s like. You can get the whole world and in the end it was really what you were worshiping that will get you…
Listen if you are striving for anything other than Jesus… It will let you down. If you get whatever it is that you are after it will be unable to deliver what it promised. You know that’s true… Think back to the things in your past you strived for… They never quite lived up to the hype did they?
That’s what Jesus is saying… That’s why he’s using the analogy of bread…
Think of the best meal you’ve ever eaten… You’ve eaten since then haven’t you? Why? Because it wasn’t good enough, you needed more to sustain yourself. The meal didn’t last. You had to eat again.
Jesus is using this illustration to point to the other areas of our life. Because there are other areas where we think if we can just get… Whatever… Then we will be happy. Then we will be satisfied.
We think without this (hold up bread) we would die… We think we could not possible live, or at least live happily without this… But Jesus tells us something different. He comes in and says without me you will die. Without me you will never be satisfied.
Many of us are after things that will only offer momentary satisfaction.
Jesus is trying to get us to think past our physical needs, wants, and desires and focus on what is eternally important. He’s trying to get us to rearrange our lives. If I could sum up what he’s saying it’s Jesus > Everything…
So for us today… We need to…
Let go of the Bread (SLIDE)
This is not easy… And it will be painful… For some of you that thing you are holding onto is a good thing… But even a good thing can become a harmful thing.
Some of you aren’t following Jesus and you have a decision to make. Jesus, and we, will never forces you to follow him. But you have a decision.. What do you want to worship? You can keep pursuing and trying to achieve whatever it is you are after in life. You are free to do so… But don’t be surprised one day when you realize that pursuit ate you alive… You have a choose, do you want to keep worship that… Or do you want to let go of your bread and worship Jesus?
Others we’ve been following Jesus but that one thing just keeps getting in the way. You need to let go of that…
Listen… What you let go of is not just a loose.. .You are letting go of something temporary so that you can grab ahold of something eternal. You really aren’t loosing anything, you are gaining everything…
That’s what Jesus is trying to get across. He wants the best for us. He wants us to live a life of peace, of joy, of happiness, he wants us to live a good life… Catch this… Not because we have everything we want in life… But because we have Him. We have what is ultimately important.
We are going to head into a time of communion. This is a good time to think and reflect on what takes Jesus place in your life. And then repent.
And as you take the bread and drink the juice. Remember that is a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. So that our mistake don’t count against us. You don’t need to beat yourself up because you’ve placed something over Jesus in your life. You can celebrate because Jesus restored that relationship already.