The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” 41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (NASB)
We are still in John chapter six and following a 24 hour period that changed many people’s perception of Jesus. On the previous day, Jesus had fed the 5,000 men, plus women and children. Jesus and His disciples, each in their own way made it to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (Jesus by walking on water and the disciples struggling against the wind in a boat). Early in the morning on the next day many of the people who had eaten the loaves and fishes also managed to find their way across the Sea of Galilee to search for Jesus.
They were following Jesus in the hope that He will yield to their ideas about what the Messiah ought to be and do for them. They wanted their bread king, a ruler who would provide a constant supply of free food. Once they found Jesus, He told them “you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” (John 6:26–27) Here Jesus teaches that He is in the process of giving them the Bread of eternal life and makes a reference to His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. That’s what Jesus is referring to when He spoke of the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal. Thus began what scholars call the Bread of Life Discourse/Sermon.
Last week’s Gospel lesson ended with verse 35. This week’s begins with the same verse – verse 35. Jesus said “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Remember, it is what I call the “Nicodemus problem.” Jesus is talking about heavenly things. He is teaching Christian doctrine, but all they can think about is temporal things – namely food and politics.
Jesus was never naive about the motives of the crowds that followed Him. Jesus understood what the masses wanted. Remember on the previous day after feeding the 5,000 Jesus surveyed what was taking place in the crowd and He didn’t like what He was seeing. The crowd was hatching a plan to take Him and install Him as a political king. He was so concerned He ordered His disciples to get into the boat and get underway so they wouldn’t get caught up in the hysteria.
Now He looks over that same basic crowd again and this time He issues an indictment against them. He says 36 “I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.” In Jesus’s own words, state of affairs is growing worse. These people don’t believe in Him. That’s why God the Father sent God the Son into the flesh and into this world in the first place . . . So that people would believe and in believing have eternal life.
John 3:16 & 18 “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. . . 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The people to whom Jesus is speaking are in a state of unbelief and as such are already under God’s judgement.
One day earlier on the other side of the Sea of Galilee the crowds were so excited. They loved Jesus. They wanted to make Him their leader and king. They were so excited they followed the Him across and around the Sea of Galilee. They wanted to bestow on Him the greatest earthly honor. He’d be their king, elected by the people themselves. They were going to make Jesus somebody!
Now in the opening part of the Bread of Life Discourse the crowd and Jesus played a kind of verbal chess match. They were trying to get Jesus to give them free food for the balance of their lives.
Jesus on the other hand was teaching them about that He was the Bread of Life and those who eat of Him, that is believe in Him have everlasting life. When Jesus said, 36 “I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe” He was teaching them that He was the spiritual food they needed and that faith is the means by which Christ is consumed.
The meeting wasn’t going well. Jesus wasn’t giving them what they want. And that is the appeal of the modern so called church. They are designed from top to bottom, from beginning to end to give the masses what they think they need. They call it “perceived needs.” The modern day peddlers of Jesus, have packaged a Jesus that gives people what they think they need, not what Jesus says we all need.
So far Jesus had taught the group two truths. First, that He is the Bread that came down from heaven to give eternal life. Second, despite the fact that they had seen Him do miracles and they had heard Him preach and teach, they did not believe in Him. The relationship between people and the crowds is now in a state of deterioration. But Jesus is far from done. He would add yet another offense to this growing list of offensive statements.
In verses 37-41, Jesus makes it absolutely clear Who He is, Who sent Him, and why He was sent in the first place. He tells them, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me . . . I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me [that is to do the will of His Father] Jesus also told them what the will of His Father is. “This is the will of Him who sent Me that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
It was all going from bad to worse for the Bread King Party. Making Jesus an earthly king was one thing, but Jesus was making Himself out to be the Son of God come straight from heaven, sent with direct orders from God the Father with the ability to grant eternal life and raise the dead was another matter all together. “They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, `I have come down out of heaven?’”
God in flesh was then and is still offensive. That is why so many Christians treat Jesus in such a causal way. But Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. He is the Holy One of Israel, God of gods, Lord of lords, and very God of very God.
Jesus replied, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus lays one offensive statement upon another, each falls harder on the ear than the former. He is telling this crowd that they not only misunderstand; they are not only acting selfishly and short-sightly; they not only have bad doctrine; they do not believe as they ought to believe; but they cannot believe in Him unless they themselves are drawn to believe by an act of God Himself. They don’t even have the power within them to trust in God’s only Begotten Son. True Christian faith is a work and gift of God not an act of will or decision by any man, woman, or child.
To prove the point, Jesus invokes the Old Testament prophets. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” In other words, if they do not hear and if they have not learn from God the Father, then they have not and cannot come to Christ.
The Bread of Life sermon is a sermon filled with offensive statements one right after the other for the unbeliever. At the same time it is filled with great comfort for the Christian. Just listen to all the statements of pure Gospel in this sermon.
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
“I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
“No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”
“He who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
There is a lot of Gospel in Jesus’s Bread of Life Sermon. Unbelievers hear it as law though.
But to us who are being saved it is the power of salvation unto everlasting life. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have left nothing to chance or to the power of sinful human nature. God the Holy Trinity does it all for us. In The Bondage of the Will Luther said it this way.
I frankly confess that, for myself, even if I could be, I should not want a “free-will” to be given to me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to strive after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities, and assaults of the devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my “free-will,” but because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I should still be forced to labor with no guarantees of success . . . But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. (199 Dillenberger)
Jesus is the Bread of Life come down from heaven. God the Father, has taken our salvation out of our hands. He draws us to and places in Christ Jesus. And Jesus Christ promises us that He will not lose any of those God has given to Him, but will raise you on the Last Day because your sins are forgiven.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen