Summary: Jesus completely satisfies the spiritual hunger of those who receive him.
Title: Thinking Outside the Bun
Text: John 6:25-35
Thesis: Jesus satisfies the spiritual hunger of those who receive him.
Sales and management people come up with some catchy phrases. Some time ago, we were introduced to the catchphrase, “Think outside the box.” For people working in office cubicles, the vision of thinking outside the box meant one could also think or be creative in a park, on the golf course, or hiking on a mountain trail.
We came to understand “thinking outside the box” to mean that sometimes we have to attack a problem from another angle or look at things from a new perspective. When we think outside the box, we reconsider what we have always done and generate new and creative ways of doing things.
The nuclear disarmament people are urging us to, “think outside the bomb.” They suggest that, rather than proliferate the production of nuclear weapons around the world, we might imagine other ways of getting along.
The anti-smoking people are urging us to, “think outside the carton.” The American Cancer Society thought outside the box thirty-one years ago when they started the Great American Smoke Out Day.
The Taco Bell people urge us to, “think outside the bun.” They want us to think of fast food in being delivered in forms other than burgers…
In our story today, Jesus is asking the people gathered to hear him teach to, “think outside the bun.”
Jesus wants us to think in terms of bread that meets our spiritual needs, rather than bread that satisfies our physical hunger.
1. People have a difficult time lifting their minds above the physical necessities of life.
Jesus said, “The truth is, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you saw the miraculous sign. You should not be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life I can give you. For God the Father has sent me for that very purpose.” John 6:25-27
American psychologist, Abraham Maslow is most remembered for his Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs… His arranged his perception of human needs as rungs of a ladder or sections of a pyramid. The most basic of needs was on the bottom rung or formed the base of the pyramid. He hierarchy of needs began with physiological, then safety, love and being, esteem, and at the top, self-actualization needs. The very basic needs of a human being are physiological in nature: air to breath, food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear, a roof over one’s head, sleep. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Maslow)
Other things are also important to us as human beings. We need to feel safe. We need to love and be loved. We need to feel good about ourselves and feel that others respect us. We need to be able to own a moral code, to be spontaneous and creative, solve problems, accept facts, and satisfy the transcendent longings of the spirit.
We readily see Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs at work at the Denver Mission. You cannot expect that a person who is hungry, weary, wet, and cold is going to be thinking very much beyond his basic human needs for food, warmth, and shelter. We understand that we bring the love of God to a person at the level of his greatest felt need.
A hungry man is not much different from a hungry bear. If he is starving, he will rummage through a dumpster or raid someone’s pantry. You can try to save his soul if you want, but he is not interested in having his soul saved until his belly is filled. In the mind of the humanistic thinker, physical needs trump spiritual needs.
The folks to whom Jesus was speaking were looking for a free lunch. But, Jesus attempted to turn their thinking from bread for their stomachs to bread for their souls. They were looking for a free lunch but they were not starving… they also had felt spiritual needs. They were interested in knowing what God wanted them to do.
2. People are interested in knowing what God wants them to do.
They replied, “What does God want us to do?” John 6:28
Usually, matters of faith are thought of in terms of doing.
In the Gospel of Luke, a religious leader asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?” The man assured Jesus that he had kept all of the Ten Commandments since he was a child. Then Jesus said, “You lack one thing, sell all you have and give it to the poor, and then you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:18-22
It would seem that much of scripture infers that the life of faith is a matter of not doing some things and doing other things. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raised the bar for righteousness above the acts of doing… not only are we not to do murder, we are not to do contempt for another. Not only are we not to do the act of adultery, we are not to do lust. Do not return evil for evil, but rather do the turning of the other cheek and do the going of the second mile. Don’t do good deeds, pray, or fast as public displays… do piety privately. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.