The Bread Of Life

Jesus invites us to partake in the free gift of salvation.

George Wright
Apr 19, 2020    38m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright teaches about the bread of life, food for our souls, that can only come with the free gift of salvation reserved for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Well, let me encourage you now, if you would, to go ahead and grab your Bible and turn to John's Gospel. And today we are stepping into a very important question that will run throughout this series, and the question is simply this, who is Jesus? And as we ask this question, I really can think of no better place to start than in the claims that Jesus makes about himself. And in John's Gospel, one of the great gifts we see in the teachings of Jesus are seven "I am" statements. Where Jesus says of himself, I am this, I am this, and he gives us insight into who he is and why he came. And certainly in a world, and in a culture, that has so many misconceptions or preconceived notions of who Jesus might be, it is such a gift to turn our attention to the word of God, to see what Jesus says about himself. So that we can not only understand more about who Jesus is, but we can grow in our relationship with him, and our faith can walk in step with who he is and what he has invited us to be all about. So in these "I am" statements of Jesus, we see Jesus take very deep theological truth and bring them down to a very simple level. The way I love to think about this, as Jesus was the master at putting the cookies on the bottom shelf. He spoke in such a way that anyone who was willing to listen could understand what he had to say.

George Wright: 01:45 And that certainly is true in the first I am statement that we are considering here today. This is in John chapter 6, and I want to read one verse to get us started here as we dive into this message, John chapter 6 verse 35. It is our custom here at Shandon to stand at the reading of God's word. And we've said this now for several weeks, I know it's a little unusual to stand at home or in your apartment or wherever you may be tuning in right now, but I'd encourage you to do so if you can. Just so we all can be reminded that the word of God is our foundation, it is what God reveals to us that he says is right and good and true, and the word of God is what we need to hear. This word of God, the words of Jesus, here in John 6:35 it says, "He said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."

George Wright: 02:51 As we consider God's word together today, would you pray with me that God would use this in our lives for exactly what he desires? Let's pray now. Father God, we look to you, and we thank you for this time to gather together, we thank you for everyone who is joining us from so many different places all at once. And really for the privilege that it is to have an opportunity like this, even in the midst of all we have been experiencing and walking through, to recognize that you are still speaking and you are still at work and you are still revealing your love and grace to us. And so I pray today that we would see that on display. I pray that we would hear from you, open our ears to hear, open our hearts to receive, and Lord open our minds to think deeply and to engage with the truth that you desire for us to see and hear on this day. So we look to you, we ask you to move and power in our lives that we would not be the same as a result of what you say, and as a result of what we see, in the good news of Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we pray. Amen. Amen.

George Wright: 04:15 Well as I start this message today, and thinking about the statement of Jesus, I am the bread of life. I just have a confession to make right up front, I absolutely love fresh baked bread. In fact, when Megan and I were newlyweds and when we were first starting our family, Megan would make fresh bread often in our home, it was incredible. This was before we had four kids, and then before we realized that one of our kids is severely gluten intolerant, we had fresh bread all the time at home. And man, it's a weakness for me, I absolutely love fresh bread. In fact, my favorite restaurants to go to back in the day, long time ago when we could go eat at restaurants, I love to go to the restaurants that the first thing they do is they bring out fresh bread to the table. The smell, the aroma, of fresh baked bread is captivating, the taste of fresh baked bread is so appealing and so satisfying. And Jesus uses this very common smell, this very common taste, to speak to a crowd of people who would be very familiar with fresh baked bread. Because think about it, there are no grocery stores with loaves of bread on the shelf that would last for days, that you could take home and put it in your pantry and have for a week or more. The only bread that you could have at the time was bread that was baked fresh every single day. And so Jesus uses this very simple illustration so that anyone can connect with what he is saying.

George Wright: 06:02 And as he talks about this bread of life, it's coming on the heels of one of the first public miracles that Jesus performed in his ministry on earth. This is right after Jesus feeds over 5,000 people using just five loaves of bread and two fish, you can read about this in the beginning of John chapter 6. And certainly, the feeding of over 5,000, people are amazed at the power of Jesus. They have seen him do something that they've never seen before. And after this miracle, Jesus sends his disciples on a boat across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and then performs another miracle in the night is he comes walking out on the sea, walking out on the open water to where the disciples are in the middle of this lake. And the next day after these two miracles have been performed, the crowds realize that Jesus and his disciples have journeyed to the other side of the Galilee region. And so they make their way around this big body of water, they come and they find Jesus and his disciples again. And they are excited to see Jesus, hoping that they're going to get another really good free meal from this miracle worker. They see this man as their meal ticket, and then they hear him make a statement like whoever comes to me shall never hunger, whoever believes in me shall never thirst. I mean, they are fired up about some free food. I mean, who doesn't love free food? Right? I mean one of my favorite gifts to receive is a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, especially one with fresh baked bread. These people are so excited about what Jesus is doing. They saw this miracle as he fed all of these people at one time, making bread out of nothing.

George Wright: 08:16 They come now the next day excited about another meal, excited to see his power on display. And we step back into the story in John's gospel chapter 6 verse 26, "Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” What is Jesus saying here to this hungry crowd that is excited about another miracle, and excited about some more free food? Well, Jesus is saying, look, I know, I know that you saw this miracle take place and you want to see more. But I want you to hear today, I'm offering you so much more than just another meal. Food will satisfy you for just a little while, but what I am offering you will satisfy your soul completely. If you eat of this bread that I can provide, you will find nourishment that will invite you to never be hungry again. You see, Jesus immediately begins to flip the script. They're looking for physical nourishment, and Jesus is talking about spiritual nourishment. They want some bread straight out of the oven, and Jesus is saying, no, I'm going to give you some bread that is straight out of heaven, I want to feed you in a way that you will never be hungry again.

George Wright: 10:14 And so the people respond in verse 28, "They say to Jesus, what must we do, to be doing the works of God?" What must we do, to be doing the works of God? When I was a freshman at the University of South Carolina, I was a business major. And one of the first classes I took in the business school at the very beginning of this semester, the professor stepped up to the whiteboard in the front of the classroom and he wrote this weird acronym across the board. He wrote the word, tanstaafl. Tanstaafl, is that even a word? What does that mean? Well, this is a statement that is very familiar I know in business, and in schools of thought around the business process. Tanstaafl simply stands for this, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, everything has a price connected to it somehow. Everything, somehow, is going to cost someone something. Even if it says it's free, there are typically strings attached. Even if it says it's free, there are usually hidden costs somewhere behind the scenes or written in fine print. And that's what the people listening to Jesus certainly believe. He's saying, he is offering us the bread of eternal life. He's saying, he's offering us bread that will invite us into an element of soul satisfaction, that we will never be hungry again. It sounds too good to be true. What must we do, if we're going to receive this bread? What do we have to do? How do we earn it? How can we get it? What do I need to do to make God happy, so that he will give me this bread of life? How can I prove I'm worthy? How can I earn my way? Just give me the list. What are the boxes I need to check? What are the things I need to do, or make a part of my life, so that I can ensure God is happy with me and then I can find the satisfaction that I so desire?

George Wright: 12:59 Isn't this the normal way that so many people look at God? God, I hear what you're saying in your word, and what you have offered to me. I hear this gift of eternal life being talked about in religious circles, and I hear that your love for me is unconditional, but it just sounds too good to be true. So certainly there's a list I've got to complete, there's some boxes I have to check, there's some things I have to accomplish if I'm really going to experience what you God say you will provide. And isn't it true that religion so often teaches us the things that we're supposed to do in an attempt to make God happy? For religion often says, if you add this to your life, or if you remove this from your life, then you will be in the right place and then you can earn your way to God through proper moral adjustments and proper religious accomplishments. Because after all, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. But the problem with this line of thinking, is we will never be able to get it all right. In fact, the gospel says to us, that Jesus has come to proclaim that no amount of religious works, or religious deeds, or moral behavior, or right living, will ever set us right before God. The gospel lays before us, that this is not about moral improvements or incremental changes in behavior so that we can be a better person than we were before, or so that we can be less prideful, or less selfish, or or less cruel, or less mean. No, the gospel says, there's no amount of religious performance that will ever lead you to achieve this gift of eternal life. There's no amount of good living that will allow you to find the spiritual nourishment, the spiritual fulfillment, that you crave. And there is no amount of right living that will set you or me right in the sight of God.

George Wright: 15:49 And so Jesus responds to their question, what should we do? What do we need to accomplish, or achieve, to earn this bread of Heaven? John chapter 6 verse 29, "Jesus answered them, this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." Isn't it amazing how simple Jesus lays this before us? And yet how often we miss the simple message, because we just simply believe it's too good to be true. But Jesus is saying to the people and saying to you and to me here today, the bread of life is not about a certain behavior or religious lifestyle that modifies who we are so that we're a little bit better than we once were. No, the bread of life is all about what Jesus Christ has done for us that we could never do for ourselves, for it is Christ alone that provides the nourishment our soul longs for. This is the good news of the gospel, that Jesus Christ has come to provide fulfillment for our soul, he alone meets the deepest need of our life.

George Wright: 17:33 But the people are a little confused, and as they hear Jesus talk about this bread from heaven, this gift from God, the people respond and say, well, we know about bread from heaven. We've heard this story before, Jesus. In fact, this is a part of our heritage of faith, and Jesus, you should know that. Look at what the scripture says, John 6:31, "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” It's as if the crowd begins to speak up and say, Jesus, you might want to do a little more research. Maybe you need a history lesson. Don't you understand where we come from, Jesus, don't you know anything about the Jewish faith? I mean, we know about this bread from heaven, it's called manna. It's what God provided for his people in the story of the Exodus as they left Egypt and were wandering in the wilderness waiting to go into the promised land, they needed something to eat and so God provided manna bread from heaven, daily bread to quench their hunger. Jesus, have you never heard this story? You may want to look this up later and read through the story of what takes place in Exodus chapter 16 as God provides this literal bread from heaven, he meets the physical needs of the people.

George Wright: 19:11 And what we see in this story is so fascinating, because the manner comes from heaven every single day, it's just enough for one day. In fact, some of the people try to gather more bread than they need for one day, and the scripture tells us that bread is literally just destroyed, it spoils, because it won't last until the next day. Each day there was fresh manna from heaven, showing the people of God that God would supply their daily needs. This is a powerful concept to consider in the midst of our current circumstance. Is it not? You know, if you're anything like our family, and I'm not saying that you are, but if you're anything like our family, I know we typically live our life in such a hurried fashion that we often don't even think about just the specific needs for a day. In fact, so many times we live our lives with more than enough for the needs of one day, and we oftentimes even try to stockpile, or have enough for a long time in the days to come. And yet, God uses this wilderness experience to show his people that he is enough for each day. He shows his people that he will provide new mercy for each day. Jesus points to this in one of his most famous sermons recorded in the scripture, we call it the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5, 6, and 7. In Matthew chapter 6 in the middle of this sermon, Jesus says these words, "But seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Verse 34 says, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

George Wright: 21:33 Now as our family has been navigating this stay at home scenario, we've been reminded of the importance to take it one day at a time. Because we don't know what tomorrow holds, we certainly don't know what next week holds. And again, typically we live in such a fashion that we're moving so fast in the busyness of life, that we just fly by the idea of being fully present with the Lord today, and being fully present with each other in the moment. And yet, all of the sudden we've been reminded each day has enough trouble of its own. Let's be focused, let's be present here this day. We cannot make plans for tomorrow, we cannot just run from one thing to the next, so let's be present with the Lord. Let's be present with one another as we've been forced to slow down. And to consider the provision of God for this day, being reminded that each day is a gift. The grace of God granted for a new day, new morning mercies each day.

George Wright: 23:02 How about you? How have you been navigating this time, staying at home, this very different pace, this very different rhythm? Are you resting in the provision of God each day? Because certainly we know that's harder than it sounds, right? So often we just want to be in control. So often we want to have more than enough for days and weeks and months and even years to come, and it's as if God is collectively saying to all of us, I'm inviting you to rest in me, I'm inviting you to be present in this day. Jesus is saying to the crowds, I want you to know that you can rest in me, and if you rest in me you will find what your soul is longing for. I want you to know that there is the daily nourishment you need in me. I want you to live it with a posture that says, Jesus is what I need the most, because this is where a soul finds rest.

George Wright: 24:27 We step back in to the scene here in John chapter 6 verse 32, as Jesus responds to their question about the manna from heaven in their past, "Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." You see, Jesus is saying to the crowd here in this scene, the lesson of the wilderness, the lesson that God wants to teach his people, the lesson that God wants his people to see, is to look to him each day and to rest in his provision, what he alone can do, and there you will find rest for your soul. Because Jesus is saying the manna from heaven points to the bread of life that is now standing right in front of you. This is the bread of God, the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

George Wright: 25:57 The scripture continues, verse 34, "They said to him, sir, give us this bread always." We want what you're talking about, Jesus. Verse 35, "Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, whoever believes in me shall never thirst." See, Jesus is saying to us here today, don't let the simplicity of this statement cause you to miss the depth of what is being revealed. Receiving the gift of eternal life Jesus says, is as simple as coming to me, I am the bread of life. Eternal life is found in Christ alone. That longing that you know in the pit of your soul, that longing that you feel in the deep recesses of your heart, that is a longing to be right with God, and that longing will only ever be satisfied through what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, the Son. The hunger we feel for spiritual life, and spiritual nourishment, is only quenched in Jesus Christ. I am the bread of heaven, come to me Jesus says, and eat.

George Wright: 27:45 So how do we do that? How do we experience this beautiful gift that Jesus is laying before us? How do we come to the bread of life and eat? How do we find this nourishment that we so long for, satisfaction for the soul that everyone desires? Well, please don't miss this, the one who understands their need for daily bread the most is the one who knows they cannot feed themselves. This is an image or a picture that oftentimes we don't really want to think about. Who is it that comes empty handed with an empty belly searching for bread? We would call that person a beggar, someone who is so impoverished that they cannot feed themselves with the nourishment they need for this day. A beggar knows, I cannot find food on my own, so I am going to someone else to provide for me what I need. I don't want to do this, but I must do this, I must humble myself and ask for something that I cannot provide on my own. So often we're so caught up in the things that we have, the comfort of this life that we crave, that acknowledging a need is a huge barrier for us to overcome. But Jesus is saying, the only way to receive this bread is to come to me and acknowledge that you are hungry and you cannot feed yourselves. To receive the bread of life, you must acknowledge that there is nothing in this life, and nothing in your power, that can satisfy your soul. You come empty handed, and you come to the one who has done for you, which you could never do for yourself.

George Wright: 30:23 As I prepare to close this message today, I want to read a quote from the famous preacher of the 19th century Charles Spurgeon. This is what he writes about this story, this concept the bread of life, this statement of Jesus. in John chapter 6. He says this, "The text says, he that comes to me. It says nothing of preparation before coming, nor any meritorious actions. It is a simple coming, as a beggar for alms, or a child for its father's help, there is nothing there of merit. In fact, faith stands in direct opposition to meritorious working. And if we read of eating Christ and drinking Christ, the act is entirely a receptive one. Nothing given forth, but everything received. It is all a matter of receiving, not of bringing to Christ. We come to him empty handed, we believe in him without any deserving of our own, and in that way and that way only Jesus Christ becomes our savior." There is tremendous freedom in recognizing that the bread of life can only be received empty handed. It's not about what you must do to earn the favor of God, it's about what God has already done through the finished work of Jesus Christ, so that you could know true nourishment for your soul, so that you could be made right with God. The bread of life is the only thing that can truly satisfy the soul. And for the bread to fulfill our hunger, we must come and eat. We come with empty hands and say, Jesus, I know I can't save myself, I know I can't earn my way to you, but I am trusting that you have done everything that I need to be right with God.

George Wright: 33:00 We close with John chapter 6 verse 47 and 48, "Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life, for I am the bread of life" The bread has been provided, you are invited to eat, come to the table and savor what Jesus Christ has done for you that you could never do for yourself. Jesus Christ is the only one who will satisfy our soul. To that end, would you pray with me? And as we pray together, if you are joining us for this service, knowing that you need to begin a relationship with Christ, or return to Christ, and taste and savor the goodness of what he has done for you, I just want to invite you to pray with me here today, and you may want to just open your hands. Empty handed, we come to the one who satisfies our soul.

George Wright: 34:36 Let's pray. Father God, I'm so grateful for this incredible proclamation of Jesus that is so simple to understand, and yet so deep in theological richness, the bread of life that satisfies our soul. Oh, we thank you for this gift of Jesus Christ that is come from heaven, to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. And Lord, I know there are many joining us today that are worn out, they are exhausted. Perhaps many among us today who have been involved in church for some time, or maybe were religious at one point in the past, and and yet if they're honest, their soul is not satisfied. And they've been searching, they've been looking, they've been hungry spiritually. Lord, we recognize through the gift of your word that you are inviting them to come to the table and to eat, to be satisfied in what Jesus Christ has done, the finished work of the cross and the power of the resurrection that we celebrated on Easter. And Lord, there are some right now who are ready to respond, they are ready to taste and eat and, and be satisfied. And so I pray, Lord, that you would just give them the faith in their own words, even now, to pray. To say, Jesus, I am spiritually hungry, and Jesus, I am coming to you and I'm asking you to be my savior, to come into my life as the bread of life, the gift from heaven. Satisfy my soul, I'm turning to you, I'm asking you to forgive me of my sin, and I'm trusting that you have done for me what I could never do for myself. So Jesus, I choose to come and eat, I choose to follow you. And oh how we praise you for the gift of salvation, and oh how we praise you for being the bread of heaven that satisfies our soul. I pray, Lord God, that we would live in light of what you have revealed day by day, moment of moment. Let us savor the gift of the bread of life, and let us rest and who you are, and in the beautiful finished work that you have done so that we might truly live. We thank you for this time that we've been able to share together in your word. It's in the power of Jesus' name. I pray. Amen. God bless you. We'll see you real soon.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
Read More
Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206