Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Am The Bread Of Life

I recently started a series on the Seven I Ams of Jesus found in the Gospel of John.


In this Gospel (and even in the book of Revelation), many times when Jesus made a statement beginning with "I am...," He wasn't just declaring something about Himself, but was identifying Himself as the Lord God. The primary name for God used in the Old Testament is LORD, which is a translation of Jehovah, the self-existent God. When the Lord sent Moses to deliver and lead His people out of Egypt, the question of who had sent him was on Moses' heart. Notice God's reply:

Exodus 3:13-15 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Jesus claimed to be the LORD God of the Old Testament - He claimed to be that same I Am!

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

The passage and claim I want to cover today is found in John 6, and occurs the day after the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 men (which would make approximately 15000-20000 people altogether when you count the women and children present as well). In His discourse with the multitude, Jesus uses the historical account of the Lord feeding the Israelites manna during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness as the starting place to teach them something about Himself and His care for them.

The Background Of Manna and its definition, plus its description and taste:

Exodus 16:14-15 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

Exodus 16:31-35 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations. As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.

Numbers 11:7-9 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.

Nehemiah 9:19-21 Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.

Psalms 78:23-25 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.

Psalms 105:39-41 He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night. The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.

All their needs were met, lncluding their physical needs, while they journeyed to the Promised Land. Bread has always been considered a staple of life. This manna, this bread from Heaven, this angels' food, tasted like wafers made with honey, and yet it also contained all the nutrients they would need to live as they made this rugged journey.

Use pastry as an object lesson here.

Something so good, tasty and nutritious - who could ask for more?

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

This manna was intended to teach them something foundational about their daily provision - just as the people of God needed physical food to survive (ie. their daily bread - see Matthew 6:11), so also they needed daily spiritual food to prosper spiritually - and that food was the Word of God and their fellowship with the Saviour. Yet they took God and His provision for granted and despised His leading in their lives.

Numbers 11:4-6 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

Numbers 21:5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

John 6, the day after the feeding of the 5000:

John 6:26-34 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

The Bread from Heaven was a person. The manna was a type or a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus offers to fill that aching spiritual hunger and thirst inside of us - and fill it to the full, so that we would never hunger or thirst the same way again if we believe in Him.

John 6:41-43 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

John 6:47-51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Physical bread (including manna) could only fill physical needs. Its effects were temporal. They needed spiritual bread to fill their spiritual needs. That bread was Christ - feeding on Him through faith was what would give them eternal life and fulfillment/satisfaction in this life.

John 6:52-63 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

It is faith in the Word of God that will bring life, faith in the finished work of the Saviour upon the cross that gives life. The Spirit of God takes that faith and brings to life (quickens) the lost soul that trusts in Christ.

One final reference to manna is found in Revelation. I love some of those Hidden Picture games, where you have to intently look, intently seek a hidden object. There is satisfaction when you find what you were looking for all along.

Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Jesus is that hidden manna, and He gives Himself in fellowship to that person who will look away from the world and will look only to Him in faith. Seek, and ye shall find. Only faith in and fellowship with the Saviour can bring contentment and satisfaction in this life.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Are you hungry?

Remind them of the pastry object lesson. Who is hungry? Offer pastry. Recap difference between physical hunger and spiritual hunger. One can lead to temporal fulfillment, one can lead to eternal fulfillment.

Not only does the Lord promise to meet your physical needs as you walk with Him, but your spiritual needs as well.

Psalms 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

Preached April 13th/2010
Jerry Bouey
(Due to time constraints, I could not read all these passages, but they were part of the outline I prepared while studying, and I made sure I was familiar with their content, so could sum them up or refer to them as needed.)

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