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Last Sunday I preached at the assisted living facility where I help out on occasion. I wanted to keep the sermon more basic and emphasize the gospel. As a speaker, it is important to know your audience. I did have ideas for how I could adapt this for a younger audience. The Bible readings were: Isaiah 55: 1-3, 6- 9; Psalm 63:1-8; John 6: 25-40. I had a loaf of bread with me that I showed at several parts of the sermon.

Audio recording link is HERE, and the transcript is below. There is a sound in the background at some parts of the audio because an alarm at the facility was going off. We were able to edit the audio so this sound is not as noticeable. I think my presentation is a bit stilted this time, so perhaps read this one instead…

On a unrelated note, I know the words manuscript and transcript are different but I end up using them interchangeably. Since I usually follow my sermon manuscript precisely, it ends up being the transcript also!

Jesus, the Bread of Life

In our Bible readings this morning (Isaiah, Psalms, John) you probably noticed a theme of hungering and thirsting for God, and Jesus being the Bread of Life.  *Show the loaf of bread*

In our culture today, bread is optional in our diet. We eat meat and vegetables, and bread can be a side. But in the Middle East 2,000 years ago, bread was an essential staple. It was a primary part of their diet. Because of that, the word bread could refer to literal bread but could also refer to food in general, because bread was the most important food.

When Jesus told the people “I am the Bread of Life” it would have been more meaningful to them, than for us today. Jesus was proclaiming himself to be the essential source of spiritual life and nourishment. Jesus is essential, not optional or secondary.

The John chapter 6 passage that I just read is a conversation between Jesus and a crowd of people, but especially with some Jewish religious leaders that were in the crowd.

In verse 27, Jesus said: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”

Isaiah 55 was read this morning, and verse 2 says something similar: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

There are 2 types of hunger: physical and spiritual. Food for the body is necessary but not the most important. It is food for the inner person – our spirit – that is essential.
We are not only a body, but we have a soul or spirit.  Food sustains our physical life, but Jesus gives us spiritual or eternal life.

When Jesus said “Do not work for food that spoils” he did not mean that people should not work for their daily living, but that our employment should not be the supreme aim of our life.

Isaiah 55 began “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.” And in Psalm 63, which was also read this morning,  David said: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

Some people are hungering or thirsting for God but they don’t realize it. They have a hunger deep inside and they go through life trying to satisfy it with various things. It may be good things like: marriage, children, grandchildren, careers, hobbies. It may be bad things like drugs and alcohol. The good things can certainly bring a degree of satisfaction, but they don’t ultimately satisfy – something elusive is still missing. And that’s because these things became the supreme aim of life – to the neglect of the spiritual, to the neglect of God.

Even those of us who are Christians, we know Jesus and have trusted him as our Savior, can become undernourished on the Bread of Life. Our identity as Christians should ultimately be anchored in our relationship with Jesus. But unfortunately, our identity can become anchored… in our children or in our jobs.

But children grow up and leave. Then what?
We become too old to work. Then what?

We realize that we had been relying on something besides Jesus to satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. Realizing this is a good thing. Isaiah 55:6 says: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”  –  We can return to our source of spiritual nourishment, Jesus the Bread of Life.

But let’s keep looking at the John 6 passage. Jesus said: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”   Son of Man refers to Jesus. It was a common way Jesus referred to himself.

After Jesus said this, the people asked a question. In verse 28, they asked: “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

The crowd missed the point that Jesus was making. They heard the word “work” (Do not work for food that spoils) and focused on that. But Jesus was pointing them to spiritual and eternal realities, and to something that would be given to them – not worked for. Jesus goes on to clarify in verse 29: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

The people were thinking in terms of good works, doing things to earn God’s favor. But no matter how good we try to be, we still fall short. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

If we could earn our way to God, then Jesus did not have to come down to us. Seven times in John chapter 6 Jesus refers to himself as coming down from heaven. If we could be good enough to get to heaven, then Jesus coming down was not necessary. We must realize our inability to save our self.  – quote John 3:16.

When we believe – when we stop relying on our self and receive God’s gift of salvation – we have a new relationship with God. The cross of Jesus bridges the gap that our sin had created between us and God.

The people in the crowd respond to Jesus’ statement that they need to believe by asking Jesus to prove it. They ask him in verse 30:

“What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?” — And then they indicate that they want Jesus to give them manna from heaven like Moses did.

They wanted to see and believe, but the divine order is believe and see. Faith must come first. And Jesus had already performed miracles for them. If someone does not have a heart to believe, even a miracle will not convince them.

At the beginning of chapter 6, Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 by multiplying 5 loaves of bread into many loaves of bread. But seeing Jesus multiply this physical bread was apparently not unusual enough. They wanted Jesus to produce manna – the special and unique bread from heaven like Moses provided to the people.

Jesus, in turn, sought to deepen their understanding of truth. Jesus reminded them that it was God, not Moses, who gave them manna. In their minds, they were comparing Jesus to Moses. But Jesus was not equal to Moses, Jesus was equal to God.

Jesus was God come down from heaven. And Jesus goes on to proclaim in verses 35-36: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.”

These people had Jesus right in front of them, and they kept missing the point. We can’t judge these people because we are no different today.

We can lack faith. We want to see before we believe. Some people refuse to become Christians unless you can provide them with enough proof. We are easily distracted and preoccupied, and seek satisfaction in things besides Jesus.

These people needed to take their eyes off Moses and manna, and focus their eyes on Jesus, the Bread of Life. And we need to take our eyes off of whatever is distracting us, and look to Jesus.

Manna was literal food from heaven for physical nourishment, but Jesus the Bread out of heaven is for the soul, not the body. Jesus imparts eternal life. Jesus gives our life new spiritual meaning.

Once we are in a right relationship with Jesus, we find satisfaction that is lasting, not temporal. It is a resurrection life. Our life cannot be terminated even by death. Jesus said in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”  – Even beyond this life, we are safe and secure.

When we die our soul goes to heaven to be in the presence of Jesus, and when Jesus returns in the future our bodies will be resurrected. Our body and soul will be reunited, and we will live on the new heaven and earth for all eternity.  The final verse we read in the John 6 passage, verse 40, said: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 6:35 says that Jesus declared himself to be the bread of life. To declare something is to say it in an emphatic way, a clear way. Pay attention! Jesus is the bread of life.
** have people say out loud together: Jesus is the bread of life.**

And Jesus continued: “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Manna was specifically for the Israelites in the wilderness, but Jesus – the Bread of Life – is for everyone in this world. You are a “whoever” –  I am a “whoever.” Whoever comes to Jesus, he will never drive away.

Jesus is the Bread of Life, and that life is there for the taking – or for the refusing. We have a responsibility to accept the gospel.

Verse 35 referred to coming to Jesus and believing in Jesus. Both phrases refer to a positive response to Jesus. Isaiah 55 was an invitation to the thirsty. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.”  We have been invited, but we must choose to come and say yes to Jesus.

If we come to Jesus and believe in him, did you notice the 3 “nevers” in John 6:35-37? These “nevers” are wonderful. It says Jesus will never drive us away, and we will never go hungry, and we will never be thirsty. No longing of the human heart can be satisfied apart from Jesus.

In closing, Christian author Max Lucado said this:

“Bread of Life? Jesus lived up to the title. But an unopened loaf does a person no good. Have you received the bread? Have you received God’s forgiveness?”

If anyone here this morning is not certain that you have ever come to Jesus and believed in Him –  please talk to me after the service. I would be pleased to take a Bible and show you how you can have a relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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