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The Bread of Life—John 6:22—35

Saturday, April 28, 2012, 6:00
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The Bread of Life

May 6, 2012

Lesson: John 6:22—35

Key Verse: John 6:35

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Introduction

“I AM” says the Son of God, the Christ who came as the only mediator between the God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and man. When sin entered into the world (rebellion of man against his creator), man defeated himself, for he no longer could have fellowship with God. However, God had provided a mediator who alone is able to unite him to his creator: Christ Jesus. “For ever since Christ was manifested in the flesh he is called the Son of God, not only because begotten of the Father before all worlds he was the Eternal Word, but because he undertook the person and office of the Mediator that he might unite us to God” (John Calvin, Institutes). Calvin further teaches that “It is certain that after the fall of our first parent, no knowledge of God without a Mediator was effectual to salvation. Christ speaks not of his own age merely, but embraces all ages, when he says ‘This is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3).”

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The Work of God—John 6:22–29

The people who wanted to hear Jesus stood on the shore and “saw that there was none other boat there, save that one where into his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples unto the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone.” It seems that on the day before they did not see Jesus walk upon the water as it was a miracle for his disciples, revealing that He was truly the Messiah sent of God: “They they receive him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went” (6:21). “(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks).” Calvin writes that when “John again mentions that Christ gave thanks, it is not a superfluous repetition; for he means that Christ obtained by prayer that those few loaves were sufficient for feeding so many people; and as we are cold and indolent in prayer, he presses upon us the same thing a second time.” We as a people of Christ ought to remember that we follow Him with a spirit of prayer and thanksgiving, rather than what we may get out of it.

The people, when they saw that Jesus was not at the place where they fed them, nor his disciples, “they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.” When they had found Jesus on the other side of the sea, “they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them, “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.” The ‘miracle’ would reveal the true character of Christ, but their eyes and hearts were clouded with the darkness of sin, thinking about themselves rather than of the person before them, who alone could deliver them from that darkness and give them hope of forgiveness and life eternal.

Men fall in love with many gods, seeking hope and deliverance from gods of their own making. Transgression and rebellion have placed man in a darkness of ‘hopelessness.’ Our Lord’s Word gives us this picture whereby a man cuts wood for a fire, part of which he warms himself, another to roast his meat; “and the residue thereof he makes a god, even his graven image: he falls down unto it, and worships it, and prays unto it, and says, Deliver me; for thou art my god” (Isa. 44:17). The beloved apostle sets our eyes upon Christ, who loves us and whom we love, and in Him we love one another: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves him who begot also loves him who is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments” (1 John 5:1–3).

It is true that by grace we are saved through faith, without works, lest we should boast. Yet let us also remember that our lives in Christ are set apart to do those things which will glorify our Father in heaven. Thus Jesus commends us to “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” Whether it be the meat of the table or, especially, the meat of the Word of God, we look to Christ for our nourishment; for it Christ who “received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17). Jesus was asked, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” His answer was, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Our faith is not without works. It is in Christ that we labor, our faith producing the fruit of the Spirit that will glorify God. Calvin wrote that “Not that he forbids his followers to labor that they may procure daily food; but he shows that the heavenly life ought to be preferred to this earthly life, because the godly have no other reason for living here than that, being sojourners in the world, they may travel rapidly towards their heavenly country.”

Discussion: What does it mean to do the work of God?

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The Bread of God—John 6:30–35

The people said to Jesus, “What sign showest thou them, 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.” Christ answered, “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.” The people cried out, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” Jesus’ words are of eternal life: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” To believe is not just to say the word ‘believe,’ but that faith is given and nurtured by the Spirit and Word of God. In other words, it is the Christian being discipled in the Word that proves his faith to be real. Calvin gives us this understanding: “Thus, the analogy which is traced between the body and the soul, enables us to perceive more clearly the grace of Christ. For when we learn that Christ is the bread by which our souls must be fed, this penetrates more deeply into our hearts than if Christ simply said that he is our life.”

“I AM” says Jesus; “the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). Christ ransomed our souls and delivered us from darkness to His marvelous light: for “it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper at his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:10–11). What a glorious picture of Christ, who paid the penalty for our transgressions: “freely by his grace the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:23–25).

Discussion: What does it mean that Christ is the bread of life?

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2012 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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