Jesus is the Bottom LineJohn 6:51-58
Pastor Nathan Buch
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Have you ever been in one of those conversations that got really intense but you didn’t intend that when you started the conversation? Maybe you have asked a question or made a statement that you thought was simple and then all of a sudden 20 minutes has gone by and there is a debate going on. Of course you have. There are so strong emotions and opinions about so any things it seems like conversations like these are happening more and more often.
The problem is not in the conversations or some fruitful discussion or debate, the problem comes when the other side of the argument made entirely of opinion and emotion. You can’t reason with opinion and emotion. It’s often at these times, that we have to make a decision. We can either give up, let them think what they want to think and try to change the subject, or we can continue to battle for the bottom line of truth. Pushing for that bottom line bit of truth is often very hard. Feelings and emotions cloud judgment, close ears, and raise defenses so that facts don’t matter. Yet, the truth is what is needed.
In the Word of God before us this morning, we hear Jesus giving the people the bottom line truth. He does not give up and change the subject because the people held feelings and emotions that were contrary to his teaching. Even though they don’t want to hear it, even though it makes them angry, he tells them the truth they need to hear: he is the only way to heaven.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Daylo preached a sermon about Elijah. The pinnacle of Elijah’s ministry may have been God’s victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. God’s power was seen, the idolaters were killed. It would seem like this would have been an event that would have changed the minds of the people and brought them back to God. The temples and synagogues should have been full, the evil, corrupt government should have been overthrown with people who wanted a leader who loved the Lord and followed him. But as Pastor Daylo showed us, none of that happened.
The people’s reaction to the feeding of the 5000 is very similar to what happened at the time of Elijah. The feeding of the 5000 showed the power and love that God had for his people. The people should have changed their minds about Jesus, and looked to him as their Messiah, but that didn’t happen. This Bread of Life sermon takes place directly after the feeding of the 5000. We will see again this morning, although the people should have recognized the power of God in his love for them, they should have recognized the truth that Jesus was the Messiah and turned, they didn’t. Instead they denied the truth that Jesus gives them and even argue with him about what he is preaching.
This is a long sermon text, over 50 verses long. Because it is split up over 4 weeks, let’s do a little review of the sermon and response of the people so far. After Jesus had fed the 5000, he and the disciples leave to be by themselves. The people pursue Jesus and catch him on the other side of the lake. It is here that Jesus tells them that they should not be chasing after him looking another meal, another hand- out, instead they should be following him because they believe he is the Messiah.
Here’s where the people bring up their first argument: We follow Moses, he gave us bread from heaven, why should we follow you, what have you done for us?
Jesus could have said, “I guess feeding all of you wasn’t enough?” Instead, he tells them that both miracles of food were done by God. They should see he is from God and follow him.
They respond with a second argument: If that’s the case, keep feeding us.
Jesus again responds with the loving truth. Your stomachs are not your biggest need. You do not really need food that fills your stomach, you have that, you can get that for yourselves. You have a greater need, a spiritual one that needs to be taken care of. That is why God sent the bread of life to you from heaven. You need to feed on this spiritual bread that will fill you up in faith to eternal life. I am that bread that God sent from heaven, listen to me and believe in me.
Argument number 3: We want food for our stomachs and he is talking about this spiritual bread from heaven. That he is the bread from heaven, we know his parents how can he be from heaven when we know Mary and Joseph? If he would just give us more food we would be happy.
Again Jesus does not respond with anger and sarcasm, he responds with the truth. The bread you want will not satisfy your greatest need. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert and still died. If I only continue to feed your stomachs you will die too. Instead, I offer you the thing you need, bread that you can eat that will last forever. I offer you the bread of life, believe in me and you will live eternally.
Jesus has been drawing a comparison between what they thought they needed, food for their bodies, and what they truly needed, food for their souls. In his wisdom, he has used their own argument from the history of the Israelites, to show them that they were wrong in thinking that the miracle of the manna in the desert or the feeding of the 5000 was just to make sure that stomachs were full.
In the face of all of these arguments, grumblings and denials, Jesus has not backed down. He has not changed the subject, he has met their unbelief with the loving truth. Now in our sermon text, we see the people’s final reaction when Jesus reveals to them the bottom line. He is their Savior who offers them the only way to heaven.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus has been using that comparison of earthly and spiritual food all along, now he adds a little something to the picture of the spiritual food. With these words, Jesus shows them the type of spiritual bread they are going to need to feed on, that would need to believe and trust in. He would sacrifice himself to take away the sin of the world to give them the way to heaven.
Now the Jews go from debating and arguing to anger, “What is he talking about, are we going to have to eat you?”
The Apostle Paul tells us, “ the man without the Spirit does not understand that things that are from the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned.” As we taste the Bread of Life through the Gospel in the Word and humbly pray that the Holy Spirit would strengthen our faith, increase our knowledge of our Savior and bring us closer to Jesus, he is doing just that. In many ways, the miracle of faith is getting out of the Holy Spirit’s way so that he can do His work of making our faith grow. However, there are many times that our sinful nature gets in the way of the Holy Spirit working. Instead of filling our minds with the Gospel, our sinful nature thinks that we know better than God so we question God and his wisdom, we try to poke holes in the Word that God has given us, we try to find loopholes where God hasn’t really said this, we argue with God refuse to accept the truth that he gives to us. When we do this, we are no better than the person who refuses to listen to the truth in our own personal conversation. We are so wrapped up in our own feelings and emotions that we do not listen to the truth that can save us. This is really the same road that leads to unbelief that these Jews walked on. Instead of listening to the Word of God which leads to heaven, they were pushing the Holy Spirit from their lives because they thought they knew better.
53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Jesus continues to show the people the bottom line truth. He reveals to them what saving faith in him really looks like. Saving faith is more than a faith which is looking for food, money or stuff. Faith which leads to heaven is not faith which trusts in my own thoughts, opinions and goodness. Saving faith looks to the sacrifice that the Messiah made on the cross and believes in that, through the Holy Spirit.
Saving faith believes that salvation is found only in the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ which he willingly gave on the cross. Saving faith believes that in this sacrifice Christ has made for us, we have total salvation. We have nothing to offer, we do cooperate, we have done nothing, or Savior has done everything to give us full and free forgiveness and eternal life. As Jesus said, this message of the Gospel is the bread of life that we need to be saved.
My dear Christian friends the world offers many alternatives to the truth of salvation that Christ gives. The devil uses those false thoughts to raise questions, doubts and arguments in our minds where we think we know better than God. Hear the bottom line truth from Jesus. I am the only way to heaven. See the love that your God has for you that he was willing to suffer and die in your place so that you could be with him in heaven. See the blessing of holding to the truth and continue to feed on the truth of Jesus, the bread sent from heaven which gives life to all who believe.