Summary: This is the first part of a series I did on the 7 "I Am" statements of Jesus in John.
May 18, 2003
“The Bread of Life”
Jesus is under attack! Much as, due to the dastardly work of politically-correct revisionist historians, it can be said that “history sure ain’t what it used to be”, so it might be said, in the wake of similarly dastardly doings by certain revisionist theologians, that “Jesus sure ain’t what He used to be either!” In the eyes of such pseudo-theologians as Robert Funk and John Dominic Crossan, the co-founders of the “Jesus Seminar”, Jesus needs to be “liberated” from the accretions of the Biblical writers; Christians need to be “liberated” from the unhelpful notion that Jesus is to be worshipped. Crossan denies every cardinal tenet of evangelical faith regarding Jesus, His virgin birth, deity, atoning death, and bodily resurrection, and he insists that the task of modern-day theological scholarship ought to be to sift through fragments and remnants and recover the “historical Jesus”. Crossan is certain that when we do that, we’ll find an amusing peasant who had some incisive insights into the human condition, but hardly a man worthy of our worship. Thanks for your “help”, Mr. Crossan, but we’ll take it from here—and from God!
Who is Jesus—and Who does He say He is? For the next seven weeks, we are going to look at the seven metaphors Jesus uses to describe Himself in the book of John. The first one we find in John 6; would you stand with me as we read that together?
You’ve heard me say before that I enjoy reading the controversial Christian author Tony Campolo. If you’ve ever read much of Tony’s work, you’ll probably agree with me that he is an author that makes you laugh, makes you mad (at least he does me!), but also one who makes you think. I like that in an author; I’d rather read someone who disagrees with me than someone who agrees, many times! Love him or…barely tolerate him, chances are you’d agree that one of the things Tony does well is to give his books intriguing titles. I’ve bought some of his books on the title alone, works like We Have Met the Enemy, and They are Partly Right; 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch (that one’ll get your blood boiling!); The Kingdom of God is a Party; Who Switched the Price Tags?, and others. Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat? is a book that’ll make you think as well—and maybe throw things, if your sanctification isn’t percolating along too well that day! Well, he’s done it again, gone and written a book with another of my favorite authors, Brian McLaren, and given it a title that screams “read me, read me!” A critique of much of our contemporary American Christianity, I wince when I see the title describing their viewpoint that we often engage in
I. Adventures in Missing the Point
It might be said that this is an apt descriptive of the people we find in John 6. We begin the chapter by noting that Jesus the Entrepreneur becomes the original Inventor of fast-food; He opens a one-shot, free-for-all-comers, franchise on a hillside in Tiberias. Not only does He dish out the food, He does so in a most unusual fashion, feeding over ten thousand people with five barley loaves and a couple fish. Enough food is left over to supply us all for a nice after-church potluck dinner, and the Bible says that this miracle is a sign to the people. Hold that thought for later, if you would.
Sensing that the people fed there were about to grab Him by force and make Him an earthly king, Jesus excuses Himself and gets out of there, into the wilderness by Himself. The disciples don’t know where He has gone, and so when night time comes, they decide to take a boat and cross the Sea of Galilee in search of Him. As seemed to be the case often with them, as they got out into the sea, a storm arose, and caused them a lot of hard rowing. In the midst of all this, Jesus comes strolling by on the top of the water, as though nothing were unusual about that (of course, for Jesus, there was nothing unusual about that!). This freaks out the disciples, but Jesus tells them that everything is cool, He hops into the boat, and the Bible says that the little ship immediately at the place where the disciples were headed. By this time, the miracles are piling up in one chapter.
Next day, all of the folks who had enjoyed the sumptuous fish feast began to search for Jesus, and the Bible tells us that they hopped into their rowboats and dinghies and canoes and headed across the lake in search of Jesus. Finally, they found Him, and thus embarked on their adventures in missing the point!