"I AM..." | The Bread of Life | John Lee | Mar 5, 2023

"I AM..."  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:58
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Good morning! My name is John and I am excited to be with you this morning especially in this context as we launch a new sermon series called “I AM.”
If we were to read Exodus 3 we would find a familiar story. A story of God speaking to Moses through a burning bush and charging him with the task of going down to Egypt and telling Pharaoh to release the Israelites from captivity ...and....Moses asked God, “Well....What if they ask who sent me?” And God replied…, "Tell them, I AM WHO I AM.”
And now....in the Gospel according to John we find 7 instances where Jesus refers to Himself as the “I Am.” And each time He does so...he is ultimately referencing God’s description of Himself in Exodus 3. In other words....Jesus is proclaiming …not only to be God but He is also describing who He is.
Over the next several weeks we’re going to look at each of the I AM statements of Jesus.... with the prayer that God will soften our hearts..... so that we might have a greater understanding of who He is and subsequently experience a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him.
You see…to have a relationship with someone requires that you know them not simply know about them. To know someone is to know things about them that is particularly intimate or private…it’s the type of information that must be earned by lovingly being in someone's life for a period of time.
One of the foundations of this series is the concern that many who profess faith have more of an impersonal relationship than they do a personal relationship with Jesus. As a result they lack confidence in their salvation and doubt God’s love and care for them. Many know what Jesus has done and they know what He has called them to do but they don’t know who Jesus is... And...... this is a problem....you see..if we are going to love Jesus, live like Jesus, and lead others to Him then we must know and see Jesus for who He really is. And friends....when your knowledge of who Jesus is grows so will your confidence in what He says and in what he has accomplished.
In other words....we need to pause and be with Christ.....we need to set our eyes on Jesus…not only obtain facts about what He has done or check the boxes of what He has told us to do but pause and really see Jesus for who he is.
Now....Before we get into our text......there’s a verse in Pauls second letter to the church in Corinth that is helpful.... He writes....
2 Corinthians 3:18 (CSB)
18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The apostle Paul is arguing that by beholding Jesus, we're transformed from one degree of glory to the next.... in other words....we are not going to be successful as a church to fulfill our core values of loving Jesus, living like Jesus, and leading others to Jesus....if we do not know Jesus…and we cannot fully know Him unless we see and savor Him.
So....that’s our goal and that’s the end game for this series…and really for the rest of 2023.... that we would see and savor Jesus. And this morning....we are going to consider what Jesus meant when He said "I am the Bread of Life?”
So ....If you would…please grab your copy of God’s Word and turn to John 6:25-35. When you’re there and if you are able …please stand for the reading of God’s Word.
John 6:25–35 (CSB)
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.”
28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked.
29 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.”
30 “What sign, then, are you going to do so that we may see and believe you?” they asked. “What are you going to perform? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.
This is the word of the Lord. Let’s pray. You may be seated.
Last Tuesday night I had the wonderful opportunity to go out to dinner with my wife for my birthday, and it was incredible. It had been so long since I had eaten a steak and I ordered the biggest one they had...... along with a side of grilled shrimp, a baked potato, and vegetables…oh and I had two appetizers before that. Our table was too small to hold the feast that laid before us. Stacy had to wheel me out of the restaurant and I remember telling her as I rolled into the seat of the car, “Man, I am stuffed…I don’t think I will ever be able to eat again!!!” I know…I know… a bit overdramatic but that’s what I felt like …that is…until a couple of hours later when we had birthday pie.
This speaks to the reality that…no matter how much we eat…we can never fully satisfy our physical need for food. And if you have kids…then you and your Costco bill know this is true! From the moment my kids were born all they want to do is eat.....in fact they wanted nothing to do with me as an infant…they only wanted their mom…and not because they loved her more but because she was the one with the food. And now…there’s not a day that goes by in my house when someone doesn’t say, “Im soooo hungry! Can I have a snack!?!” And many times…these kids just ate!
Now…I am not complaining…well…maybe a little…but the point is that God created our bodies to run on food, and hunger is the gas light…it’s the warning system telling us that we’re getting low on fuel. We feel the hunger.....we hear the growl of our stomach and we eat. That’s what keeps us alive. And in the same way that we need food for our physical bodies we also need food for our soul.
In fact....there is a growling inside of the human soul that indicates an emptiness inside of us. And the emptiness we feel leads us to search for answers ... we spend our days desperately trying to quench the hunger pangs of our hearts... we search for ways to fill the emptiness inside of us…and just like my kids who are hungry soon after dinner....and in the same way I was able to eat my birthday pie after I said, I will never eat again” .... the food we feed our souls with always leaves us wanting for more and wondering....Will I ever be satisfied? Will I ever be ok?
Friends....I have good news for you. Jesus has an answer to your plea for help and He is offering you spiritual food that will completely satisfy your soul and silence the cravings of your heart once and for all....and not only will you be satisfied …and not only will you be ok…but you will find that you can safely place every ounce of your hope and confidence in Jesus to fill you and sustain you. You see…In our text this morning ...Jesus is going to lead us on an excavation of our soul in which he will unearth and reveal to us two important realities that will both expose and solve our soul’s emptiness problem. He is going to show us what our true Motivation is..... what it is we truly Need…and he is going to call us to Respond. But before we take this journey.....let’s first consider the context of the conversation between Jesus and the crowd....Look at John 6:22.
John 6:22–25 (CSB)
22 The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw there had been only one boat. They also saw that Jesus had not boarded the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone off alone. 23 Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Now…what in the world is happening here!? Well ....Jesus is entering into his third year of ministry and a crowd has begun to form......and he’s about to have a conversation with this crowd of people who are searching for hope…in fact they have been searching for something or someone to give them life.
And....If you were in the crowd on that day…you would have experienced....in some form or fashion.... the rhythm of hearing Jesus teach and seeing him heal people....it’s possible that you heard about how Jesus talked to some Samaritan woman at a well which resulted in many people from her village coming to faith in Jesus. You may had heard about how Jesus healed the officials son. Or.... Maybe you were near the pool of Bethesda and heard about the man who couldn’t walk and how he crawled into the pool and after he met Jesus he walked right out of that pool completely healed.
And now in John chapter 6 we see that this crowd has grown to thousands of people....5000 men for sure and the addition of thousands of women and children equaling between 15-20,000 people …all searching for hope and for life. And...as they sat on the grassy hillside listening to Jesus …they started to get hungry…and as the disciples begin to stress out about how in the world they were going to feed these people.... a young boy donates his lunch and Jesus takes the young boy’s five barley loaves and his two fish and he feeds the crowd....and not only did they eat their fill but the disciples even gathered up leftovers!
And the people were amazed and they thought, “could this man be the prophet we have been waiting for?” (Dt. 18:15-18) But Jesus …he slipped away from the crowd…because he knew that these thousands of people were about to take him by force and make him king. You see....It seemed as though these people were ready to reorient their lives around Jesus…they were definitely ready to make him their king..and all because they thought they had found what they had been searching for. But…at the end of John 6….....we read about how the crowd of thousands were reduced back down to the 12 disciples....in fact .....many of them left Jesus that day and never returned.
You see....After they listened to Jesus said....look at what they said in v.60..
John 6:60 (CSB)
60... “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?”
And then v.66 says
John 6:66 (CSB)
66 …many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him.
What in the world happened? In one day the crowd went from 15,000 thousand to 12....now I am no expert but I have read church planting books and well....this would be defined as a bad day for Jesus. So....what happened? Well.....Jesus …He didn’t conform to the popular messianic expectations…and knowing exactly what the crowd needs.....he looks at them and offers a definition for life that they don’t like. That's what happens. They're coming to Jesus looking to satisfy their perceived need...but what Jesus offers them is what .they actually need.......and well....they didn’t like it...and they walked away from Jesus....ultimately exposing their true motivation.
And as we look at the conversation together let’s ask ourselves the same revealing questions that Jesus ultimately unearths in the hearts of the crowd. Starting with question #1
What is my Motivation? v. 25-29
John 6:25–26 (CSB)
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
I love how Jesus completely ignores their question and changes the subject. They find Jesus across the sea and knowing that he wasn't on the boat with his disciples they are dumfounded.... “How in the world did you get here!?!?” Which is a pretty good question....but Jesus... he doesn’t care about their inquiry and says to them, “you’re only here because you’re looking for more bread to fill your stomachs.”
Consider what the people just saw Jesus do the day before. He miraculously multiplied the bread and fed the crowd. They experienced that, and they think... "I wonder if this guy is the long awaited Messiah?" So....they come to Jesus and start this conversation with Him, but He knows their hearts…He knows exactly what is motivating them.
He knows.....that they weren’t coming to say, "You provided the bread, which means you are God become man, sent to save us from our sins and save the world." They come to him and say, "Do you have any more bread? We are hungry."
You see… they had completely missed the point of the miracle on the other side of the sea.... they failed to grasp that the miracle of multiplying the bread and the fish was not simply just to meet their physical need....it wasn’t to point to Jesus as some provider of goods and services…but the whole point of the miracle was to reveal Him as the Son of God to whom they could find salvation for their soul. But.......Instead of seeing in the bread the sign of the savior they saw in the sign of the savior only bread. In other words…they were not motivated to follow Jesus because of full hearts but because of full bellies.
Now.....It’s only natural for us to seek to have our physical needs met....and the Bible never condemns us for doing so…In fact..... God filled the world with good things, and the Bible teaches that God will take care of and provide for the physical needs of those who trust in him (see Matt. 6:25–34). So the problem here is not that the crowd was seeking to fill their empty stomachs....but that their materialistic attitude consumed them and overshadowed what was a spiritual priority…and as a result they paid no attention to the truths that Jesus revealed through His miracle.
Brothers and Sisters…this issue of materialism was not just an issue for this crowd but it’s been an issue throughout the course of human history. You and I may also find ourselves captive to our physical longings…and many of us are working endlessly to fulfill those desires. Consider with me for a moment......how much time, effort, and energy you put into making sure your physical needs are met. And this is a broad category....so let’s just speak about the reality that we all have to eat.
You get up in the morning, and the first thing you think about is.... I have to go to the bathroom....but soon after .....you think.... what am I going to eat ..what am I going to drink..... For me…it’s coffee....I need coffee. Then.....throughout the day we’re running here or there for lunch or dinner, we spend time making food, or heading to the store for more groceries so we can make more food.
You see....the point is....we make sure we don’t go hungry. Now.....compare that to how much time and energy and effort you put into making sure your spiritual hunger is met. Do you even think about it? Do you give any thought to what sustains you spiritually? to what nourishes your souls? How much time are you spending with Jesus? In His Word? In prayer? In the service of His Church?
Now …listen to me....If all of your energy is targeted at meeting your physical needs.....needs that never take a day off.....your life will feel wasted....and you will feel bored and restless… and you will spend your life pursuing that which can not satisfy...... another promotion at work, another vacation, another hobby or another fancy meal.
Brothers and Sisters.....Jesus is the only one who can fill the emptiness inside of you. If you want a full life then spend your life in pursuit of Jesus. For if you spend your life in any other way you will feel empty and unfulfilled.
Now.....this truth doesn’t just impact individuals but also churches. I remember a few years ago a church…in an attempt to pack their sanctuary for Easter gave away a car! I have seen houses and even cash given away by churches so that people might attend their services. It’s the idea that people will only accept Jesus if he provides worldy goods. And....even worse are the prosperity preachers who falsely teach that God guarantees health and wealth to those who truly believe. The result of these approaches are a massive crowd....much like the one we’re reading about....who have the wrong motivation ....they are following Jesus for what He provides rather than just for who He is.
And…all of this makes me wonder....with all the worldly excitement drawing crowds to churches today, how many would come if Christianity were suddenly made illegal and they faced arrest. You see....when the worldly veneer is stripped away.... and especially..... when there’s a price to be paid to follow Jesus....that’s when God exposes our motivations and we discover who are the true followers of Christ.
Friend....are you following Jesus with the right motive? Are you following him because of what He provides? Or ....have you been saved by grace through faith …and are you following Him because you seen and savored that He is good?
Now....Jesus…he knew what motivated the crowd.....he knew that they were only there to find fulfillment for their physical hunger.....and knowing that they would never be fully satisfied in their pursuit …Jesus tells them in v 27 what it is they really need? Which leads us to our second question....
2. What is my Greatest Need? v. 27-29
No matter how good the meal tastes....no matter how much money you spend on it....no matter how amazing it is.... at some point in the future, you’ll be hungry. Jesus makes this point to the crowd. Look at what He say in v. 27
John 6:27 (CSB)
27 Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.”
Now....underline or make note of the words “eternal life.” In the English language we only have 1 word for life but in the Greek there are two different words.....Bios and Zoe....Bios means physical life or material life. And Zoe speaks to a life that transcends the physical…it speaks to a quality of life.
And.....John…as he writes this account..... he has these two words to choose from.....and knowing that these people are coming to Jesus looking for bread…knowing that they were looking for something to meet their physical need..... you would expect him to use the word bios, but what Jesus says is, "Don't look for food that’s only going to perish....it’s not going to last......rather..look for the eternal food of zoe......look for a never ending nonperishable food that will feed your soul for eternity. This is your greatest need.
In other words…You’re after more bread, but it won’t last. The bread you want may fill you up for the moment, but it’s only temporary. You see....Bread may sustain your life....but only for a time. Even those who ate the manna God sent from heaven still died (v. 49). That bread didn’t give them eternal life. And Jesus here…is subtly reminding the crowd that even though they ate the miraculous meal the day before, they were still going to die.
In the same way....the bread we crave doesn’t lasts either. All of the physical things we look to for meaning will eventually fade.....That which we think gives our lives so much meaning is never quite enough. We always want more…and we even think that we need more .....but even more won’t help us. We think when this event happens or this goal is achieved or we reach this milestone, then finally life will be worth living. But even those who reach their goals still die. That’s where each of our stories are headed. Eventually, food won’t keep us alive. Neither will medicine or money or friendship or family.
And so.....Jesus is telling us......stop pursuing after fleeting pleasures....stop running to wells that are dry ....stop searching for fulfillment in what will ultimately leave you empty… stop treating the creation as though its the Creator. The truth is....you will never be satisfied…and the proof of this truth is found in the reality that Americans are about 662% wealthier than the global average. (Global Wealth Report 2021 by Credit Suisse) yet Americans have never been more unhappy…in fact... depression and suicide rates are at all-time highs.
Friends.... material things will never satisfy your constant perceived need for more....andJesus lovingly warns us…he says, "What you think you need for life is not what you actually need.” However, there is good news....Jesus has what you need…He provides an eternal food for your soul that will last forever and He promises this food to all who receive Him.
And look at how the crowd replies....John 6:28
John 6:28 (CSB)
28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked.
Again.... the crowd completely misunderstands Jesus....But to be fair Jesus said to stop “Working “ for food that doesn’t last....and so …logically they think …well there must be something we must do to get this food that lasts eternally. And so they ask, “ What must we do to get this eternal food from you ?!?”
And…this question reveals a problem…you see.... These people ultimately wanted to know what “works” they could do to receive God’s blessing. They wanted to do something that would merit eternal life.
Now... what’s wrong with that? What is wrong with works as a way of salvation? Well…nothing if you cn do them sufficiently! The problem is that we are all sinners and we are unable to meet God’s perfect and holy standard of good works. You see....The Lord looks on the heart and sees that all our works are corrupted by mixed motives and sin. And unfortunately.....God does not grade on a curve, but according to his own glorious perfections. And the truth is....“we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
So what do we do? How then are we saved? How can we recive this eternal food for our soul? Well look back at v. 29
John 6:29 (CSB)
29 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.”
Believe! Friend....salvation does not come from your good deeds but by grace through faith in Christ Jesus....God in his grace has provided a Savior, who accomplished what we could never do. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law on behalf of those who trust in him, and then died on the cross to pay for our sins. Jesus then rose from the dead to grant eternal life to those who believe. Salvation is by grace....and Jesus gives this gift to those who are willing to confess their failure before God, acknowledge their sins, renounce their good works and be saved through Christ alone.
Now.....This leads us now to our third and final question.
3. How will I Respond to Jesus? v. 30-35
Having witnessed the amazing miracle of Jesus feeding the thousands of people with just a few loaves and a couple of fish.....and then after hearing Jesus’s passionate teaching about himself..... look at how the crowd responds in verse 30-31.
John 6:30–31 (CSB)
30 “What sign, then, are you going to do so that we may see and believe you?” they asked. “What are you going to perform? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
You see.....The crowds response to Jesus reveals exactly who it is that they were devoted to....themselves....in fact ......It's hard to imagine a more vivid testimonial to the depravity of the human heart than the unbelief expressed by this crowd. And they asked for a sign…not because the miraculous feeding was insufficient in revealing Jesus as the Messiah…but because they didn’t like what Jesus was saying..... they didn’t like that Jesus was calling them to change their minds and attitudes....they didn’t like being told that there was nothing they could do ....they didn’t like the thought that salvation was through Christ alone....and so their demand for another sign was just a way of putting him off....it was just a way of justifying their unbelief.
Brothers and Sisters.....faith comes not from seeing but from believing the Word of God. It is through God’s Word that we are born again (1 Peter 1:23), and the result of being born again is that we believe and understand God’s Word. But if we will not believe the Word of Christ, then there is no multitude of signs, evidences, or reasons that will ever penetrate our foolish hearts.
You see....at the root of the human condition is a moral and spiritual inability and unwillingness to accept Jesus. Why? Well....we want to ignore the truth that we are broken sinners in need of a savior.The plight of the human condition is that we are determined to be our own god, our own savior, and our own lord,....so like the crowd we find reason after reason to reject Jesus. ....after all…Moses fed Israel for 40 years....Jesus fed them one meal.....If Jesus was going to claim to be greater than Moses then He’s got to at least match what Moses did. Which speaks to the fact that the crowd didn’t understand what happened all that time ago in the wilderness. …and well…Jesus sets them straight in v.32
John 6:32 (CSB)
32 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
I love what A.W. Pink says about this verse.... He says,
“The Father’s provision for a dying world was to send from heaven His only begotten Son. - Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, pg. 325.
In other words....look.... it wasn’t Moses who fed your ancestors…It was God who provided for them…and he did that to point you to the fact that God was going to send me .... and in the same way bread gives life to your body.....I am going to give my body so that you may have life!
look at v.35
John 6:35 (CSB)
35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.
Friends…there is no gluten free option when it comes to salvation....You may may be able to survive without gluten but you cannot survive without the bread that is Christ! In fact....without Christ not only will your soul never be satisfied but you will die in your sins.
Tell me....are you attempting to live without Jesus? Are you attempting to satisfy your soul with success? Money? Religion? Education? or whatever sub par substitute you can find?!?! Friend…you will never satisfy the inescapable need that your soul has for Jesus Christ!
And friend ...your gluten free options are not working....You need to eat from the bread of Life! And in the same way you ensure that you eat everyday to fill your belly you need to eat the bread of life everyday so that you can feed your soul. In fact .....Jesus taught us to pray ...Give us today our daily bread....and friends Jesus is your daily bread…he is your daily need…not just a Sunday morning need..the goal is not for you to come to church this morning and treat this like a buffet …gorge yourself and then starve yourself until we meet again…NO!!!.... you need to sit at the feet of Jesus every day.
AW Pink also wrote....
If the Christian fails to feed on Christ daily … he will be weak and sickly.” - A.W. Pink, John, 327.
Now …you might be thinking…how? How do I feed on Jesus? Well consider Matthew 4:4
Matthew 4:4 (CSB)
4 He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Brothers and sisters…we feed on Christ through the faithful reading and application of God’s Word. If you are struggling in your faith this morning.....may I ask you…when was the last time you sat at the feet of Jesus, feasted on His Word, and applied His Word to your life? Is it possible that your faith is weak because you are feeding on the world rather than the Word?
Friends.....Jesus is the Bread of Life because he was broken on the cross for our sins....and ....In just a moment we are going to respond by eating a cracker that points us to Jesus’ broken body. You see…Jesus is the bread of life because he died to pay the penalty of our sins, so that through faith in him we might be restored to fellowship with God.
Friends…it is no accident that Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem also know as the :”house of bread.” And those who witnessed his birth were fed in their hearts and if you come to Him you will be fed in your soul.
Now…in our text.....we see that .....sadly the crowd chose to reject Jesus.... They made excuses and said it was too hard to believe. And Let’s be honest.... believing in Jesus is hard....because believing demands relinquishing all other means of salvation. It means saying, “I cannot do it on my own. I cannot make it on my own. I will die apart from Jesus. I’m helpless and hopeless.” That’s not easy, but it’s true, and it’s your only hope. Only Jesus can fill the emptiness inside of you....only Jesus can quiet the growlings of your soul. Only Jesus can give you life.
Look back at see this beautiful promise from Jesus.
John 6:35 (CSB)
35 Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.
This can also be translated.... “whosoever” comes to me will never be hungry again and “whosoever” comes to me will never be thirsty again. And when he says ...“Whosoever” ..He means you. Will you come to Him? Will you eat and be filled?
Let’s pray
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