Wonder Bread or Bread of Life
Text: John 6:26-58
Proposition: Jesus didn’t come to make our lives better but to make our eternity sure.
Introduction: Trust, we struggle with it everyday, with animals, with machines, with each other and most importantly, with God. A woman who has come to be famous world wide, Mother Teresa, once said, “I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much.” God trusts us with truth and then invites us to trust Him with faith. Jesus had just fed 5000 people with five barley loaves and two fish. It was the next day, in Capernaum, that this account we are about to look at takes place. What He is about to say to them would shock them because they had never considered faith in such a radical way. Turn with me to John 6:26.
I. ‘What’s In It For Me’ Won’t Work When it Comes To Faith.
From the very beginning Jesus had been setting signs in front of the people, signs that pointed to the truth of Who He is. There was the sign of when Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana, the sign of when He simply said to a father whose son was sick, “Go your way, your son lives.”, the sign of a man completely paralyzed who was brought on a stretcher by four friends, and Jesus right in front of everybody’s eyes, healed the man, right then and there. There was even the sign of five barley loaves and two fish being multiplied so that five thousand people ate and there were twelve baskets full of fragments left over. Signs… Jesus was giving them sign after sign, prompting their faith, doing things only God could do. I think Jesus still uses signs today, signs to direct our steps and signs to invite our faith in Him. There can be signs like when God changes your life, where calm comes into your life when before there was only storm, signs like when sickness reigned and then suddenly it was gone, signs like abundance suddenly pouring out like wine at a wedding. Signs like that can take our breath away but they are only like any sign, they point to the final destination, they are not the destination itself. All these signs were meant to move us from a ‘what’s in it for me’ response to a response that trusts God more. That’s what leads to the double edged comment that Jesus makes in verse 29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” It’s double edged because it is literally the work that God does, He begins the process of faith extending it to us as a gift. But it’s also the work that God sets before us to do, to believe in Him whom He sent. Jesus has already said that the Father has set His seal or guarantee of authority on the Son, that is that He is able to offer this hope in a sure way, a guaranteed way. You don’t have to wonder, if you will …He will take your hand.
II. Hanging Onto the Past Won’t Work When It Comes To Faith.
In 1921 Elmer Cline, Vice President of the Taggart Baking Company, was at a fair in Indianapolis when he saw hundreds of hot air balloons. The sight of them filling the sky filled him with a sense of awe, even wonder and that became the inspiration for their new product, Wonder Bread. They were the first offer sliced bread, the first to slow bake and take out the air bubbles in side. The white, sliced, enriched, bread in the bright balloon festooned bag became convenience on a stick for America. Wonder bread was kind of how the Jews thought about that amazing gift called Manna. In the days when Moses led them in the wilderness it was a sign that lasted for forty years, these tiny pellets that lasted only a day but were enough to sustain life, new every morning, it came right out of heaven…so what sign could Jesus put on the table that could match that! You fed 5000 people for one day but Moses fed our nation of almost two million people for forty years. That’s what the Jews were saying to Him when they asked for a sign in order to believe in Him.
The past can seem like it’s the safest place to live, I know how the story ends, I can fortify myself in my own perception of it, I can even use it to predict the future. The Wonder Bread called Manna had become a convenient piece of history for the people, as long as they held on to the way that God worked in the past they didn’t have to consider what He was saying to them today.
The wonder full thing about Jesus is that He always challenges wrong conclusions. He tells them it was never Moses who caused the Manna to come down, it was God the Father. That Manna was temporary, just lasting a day. Then Jesus says something most amazing, it’s like He takes a step forward and tells them that the bread of God is actually a person, a person who like the Manna has come down from heaven. He says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” The clear implication is that right now, here today, there are people who do hunger and thirst in a way that can never be satisfied by hanging onto the past. The convenience of Wonder Bread is that you could pick it up and take it home, the Bread of God isn’t like that. He picks you up and He will take you to His home. The Wonder Bread filled your stomach but it couldn’t keep you from death. The Bread of Life fills the soul, raises it up on the last day, it changes who you were into a new creation. It leads to this provocative statement, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever and the bread that I shall give is My flesh which I shall give for the life of the world.” It is an invitation to open your hand, letting go of the past ways that that you’ve tried to find life, tried to find hope and holding that empty outstretched hand towards Jesus.
The crowd was still standing there, still open to hear, it was what Jesus said next that caused many people to turn and walk away, it was the most radical explanation of faith that people had ever heard.
III. Faith In Jesus Involves Hunger, Hope and Haste.
These are three actions that keep you alive everyday. If you have no hunger or appetite you won’t eat, if there is no sense of thirst you won’t drink. When you do have appetite you look at food and your belief is that if I eat that I will be filled, I will be stronger, I will live. But there is still that last step, the step that actually hastens to reach out and take and eat. If there is no hunger, hope and haste in you every day you will starve to death and die of dehydration. It’s as simple as that.
In the very same way Jesus tells these people that they must first hunger spiritually, a hunger that God stirs within them. That awareness of a gnawing hunger for God is God awakening in us a desire to want to know about Him, to want to be known by Him. The hunger leads to hope, I begin to learn more about what will satisfy this hunger, Who God is, Who Jesus is, who I am. Then comes haste, it is the reaching out of my soul to God to take and eat and drink what only He can supply. Jesus makes this extraordinary statement in verse 57, “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” Does God the Father have life in its deepest essence within Himself? YES! We see it in all that He touches, in all that He creates. The Father has taken that very life essence and put it in a body that He created for the Son of God. Hebrews 10:5 says, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME” The living, human body of Jesus, given to Him by the Father, was God’s means of moving that life He has into the souls of all mankind who would hunger, hope and haste to Jesus. This perfect life, this sinless life of Jesus perfectly satisfied the wrath of God against sin, specifically against my sin. When I come to Jesus and believe in Jesus as the One who gave His flesh and blood for me, that I would be forgiven in His name, that is what is meant by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He is every bit in me and I am indisputably, inseparably, irrevocably in Him. Like water and soil that are drawn up into a plant and become the plant itself, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord you are in Him forever.
So Jesus simply says in verse 53, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you.” There are many Wonder Bread gods, convenient gods, enriched gods, bite sized gods but none of them have life. If you do not have Jesus in you by faith, accepting the sacrifice of His body and blood, this Bread of Life God, then within, your soul is dead to God, you have no life in you. People left Jesus when they heard Him say that. If there is hunger, because God awakened it in you, if there is hope because the Spirit of God is revealing Jesus to you more and more, then haste, take eat. Receive this Jesus, believe in the body and blood of Jesus given for you that by Him the very life of God is extended to your soul through Him, the Bread of Life.