- Sermon Notes
Food that Endures
These verses in John chapter 6 are about finishing well and finishing with the right heart. When you think about finishing well and about finishing with the right heart, it might remind you of one of the most famous runners from Tanzania.
His name was John Stephen Akhwari. He was a world-class runner and represented Tanzania in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico. While competing in the marathon, he cramped up due to the high altitude of the city. At about the 12th mile there was some jockeying for position between runners and he was hit. He fell badly, wounding and dislocating his knee. But he continued running, finishing dead last. But when he came into the stadium, the crowd stood and cheered as if he had finished first. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 9,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 9,000 miles to finish the race.”
In John chapter 6, many will turn away from following after Jesus because He challenges them with difficult words. When they hear it, many respond, saying, “This is a difficult statement; who can hear it?” It wasn’t difficult to understand what He meant, it was difficult to take hold of; it was difficult to abide in the truth of His words.
Let’s understand the background of what’s happening. Remember that Jesus has just done the greatest miracle yet of His ministry. He has fed a crowd of perhaps more than 10,000 people. They were completely satisfied, even glutted by what He had done in feeding them.
But the dynamics of the situation quickly changed when Jesus perceived that they intended on taking Him by force to make Him king. Jesus dispatched the disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and you remember that they toiled all night through the storm. Jesus came to them in the midst of it, walking on the water. When they get to the other side, the crowd followed after Him.
It’s at this point that Jesus confronts the motives of their heart. They were not seeking Him for the right reasons at all, but because they ate of the bread and were filled.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with desiring food. I certainly enjoy food as well. I enjoy eating it and I enjoy cooking it. In fact, just the other day someone gave us some fresh cherries which turned into Cherries Jubilee!
But there’s a difference between eating to live and living to eat. Like many cravings of the flesh, they need to be in God’s proper order. Some are obsessed with eating, some are obsessed with drinking, and others are obsessed with sexual desire. All of these need to be in God’s proper order or they can be destructive.
I. Seek Food that Endures to Eternal Life
- Jesus is asking us to take a careful look at what drives us; the motives of the heart.
- When He speaks of working for the food which endures to eternal life, He is telling us to work for those things which have eternal life; things which have eternal value. This is what makes the soul truly alive.
- They were in the presence of the Bread of Heaven, but all they could think of was food to satisfy their appetite.
- Jesus said that life was more than food, clothes, or career. Don’t be obsessed about those things; God has that which is far greater.
- In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear for clothing?’ Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
- At first, it seems they ask a good question, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
- But the question shows that they are mistaken about God’s will for them. Many people today actually feel this way. They begin to realize that Jesus is talking about something other than physical bread, and they want to know what they must do.
- When people begin to realize that life has a spiritual dimension to it, they often respond with a “religious” perspective. “What does God want me to do? Can I do something to make Him happy?”
- The person who asks this question does not understand what God really wants.
- Jesus answered, “This is the work of God; that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
- In other words, placing your hope and faith in God’s Son is the center of God’s purpose in your life.
- The same was true for Jesus Himself. Perhaps you remember in John chapter 4 that after Jesus had that amazing conversation with the Samaritan woman where He was drawing her toward eternal life, the disciples then urged Him to have something to eat…
John 4:32, 34, He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about… My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”
- As Jesus was coming to the end of a 40 day fast, He was tempted by Satan who said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, turned these stones into bread.” Jesus’s answer gave great spiritual insight…
Matthew 4:4, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
B. Do not work for food that perishes
- They responded by asking Jesus to perform a sign so that they might believe saying, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness…”
- In other words, hint, hint, hint, “He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. What will You give us?” You can almost see Jesus rolling his eyes, here we go again.
- In verse 33 Jesus corrected them, “The bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”
- They had such an earthly perspective that they refused to see what God was showing them. They wanted God to move at their command. They wanted a king on their terms!
- They wanted a king that would serve them breakfast, lunch and dinner while they sat back and waited. They wanted a king that would heal their sick, take away their suffering, to cater to their wants and to cater to their goals and plans.
Illus- For our 25th anniversary my wife and I had saved up and then got a half-price discount so we could take a cruise to Alaska. Talk about indulgence in food, it was over the top. But when we got back home we had culture shock; who’s going to cater to us now?
- It’s interesting that they bring up the manna that God gave Israel in the desert, because they weren’t happy with that either.
- Manna actually tasted good, it tasted like wafers that had been made with honey. It might be like doughnuts with honey glaze. The word manna literally means “what is it?” It comes from the Hebrew root Krispo-Kreemo.
- Instead of appreciating what they had, they began to complain about it. After going through Moses’ book on 101 recipes for manna, they began to demand meat to eat and we know that didn’t end well. God gave them so much quail to eat they began to snort it out their nostrils.
- Companies that sell things to those who are consumer driven will often appeal to people’s desire to find something to satisfy their lives.
Illus - Picture a guy with a self-sufficient swept back hairdo driving his new Beamer through the fall leaves, the wind sweeping through his hair and a look of inner peace on his face. So you think, “I want that same inner peace; I need that Beamer.”
- Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of My Father.” That is the very purpose and significance of our lives as well.
II. Take Hold of the Hard Sayings
- In verse 41 Jesus explained, saying, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”
- But they grumbled at this; you might say they choked on it. Jesus was with the Father in heaven? He was sent by God to be the bread of life?
A. Partake of the bread of heaven
- This was a hard thing for them to take hold of. It wasn’t hard for them to understand; it was hard to live.
- Jesus is saying that He is unique among men, that He is the only one who has seen the Father; that He is from God and sent to be the bread of life. (Vs 46)
- This statement is also offensive to nonbelievers. “Are you saying, as a Christian, that your way is the only way and that all other religions are not true?”
- Actually, yes, that’s what we’re saying. That’s what Jesus Himself said…
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
- This is a difficult saying; it’s not politically correct. It offends many. It’s not difficult to understand what He is saying; it’s difficult to accept it because it doesn’t fit in with an all-inclusive modern society.
- But Jesus wasn’t interested in the size of the crowd that followed Him; He was more interested in the quality of their heart.
- Jesus is the bread that came down out of heaven; He is the bread of life and all who partake, Jesus Himself will raise up on the last day.
- When Jesus spoke of eating the flesh of the Son of Man, He was saying that we must partake of Him. Vs 56-58.
- Some people hear the words of Christ, they find them interesting, but they don’t personally partake.
Illus – It’s like bread itself. You can study the ingredients, read the label and enjoy the smell, but if you don’t actually eat it, partake of it, it will help you not at all.
B. His words are life
- In verse 61 Jesus said, “Does this cause you to stumble? What if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?”
- Then He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; these words are spirit and are life.” Interesting; life is found in the Spirit, and the flesh profits nothing. Many people live for the wrong thing.
Galatians 3:3, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
- As a result, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus was intentionally thinning out the ranks.
- He then turned to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
- It was Peter who answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”
- Many didn’t want to follow for the right reasons. It’s a great lesson. We need to realize that it’s not about us.
- When we come to faith in Christ, we often come with selfish motives. We want what we can receive. We want the peace, the hope, the life, the satisfied soul, the favor of God poured out.
- But as we mature we need to realize that church is not just the place to go and get blessed.
Illus - I hate to say it, but many Christians have developed a cruise ship Christianity. They want to be catered to; they’ll change cruise ships according to who has the best accommodations, which one serves the best food.
- Church is a place to develop and mature your gifts and then use them to serve others. Prayer is not just about getting something you want, but discovering God’s will and praying accordingly.
- As you mature you move from receiving blessings to becoming a blessor; from being served to serving, to partaking in Him and Him alone.
Luke 9:24, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
John 6:22-71 NASB