We are covering three Journeys today, well two-and-a-half, as the first half of Journey 29 was in our recent blog. Anyway, we are going to experience that Jesus truly is the Bread of Life.
Bread of Life Sermon
We are reading in John 6:22-71, where Jesus is journeying from a mountain near Bethsaida-Julius, and then to the plains of Gennesaret and on to Capernaum.
Those that intended to make Him King needed to know some things, because they thought He was someone who knew magical powers or could do sorcery and other forms of magic. He urged them, however, not to think just of physical or temporary blessings, but to seek the spiritual and Eternal Life that He offered, because people cannot earn this life through good works, but only by faith. He does not need to make food fall from Heaven as Moses did to prove His Power, but He Himself is the True Bread from Heaven—the Bread of Life.
This bread from Heaven is not a common food, but rather, it is a spiritual provision available to those who are drawn by the Father to the Son and give themselves to Him in faith! As Jesus does the Father’s Will, He brings believers into life of God’s Kingdom (Eternal Life). They have such Eternal Life now, that they will enjoy the blessing in its fullness following the victorious resurrection at the end of the age!
Some of the audience objected to Him saying that He has no right to make such claims, because He was not God and had not come from Heaven—rather He was from a Galilean family. Jesus repeated what He said previously to impress upon them that the Salvation He brought descended straight from Heaven and was the work of the invisible God. The only way Salvation came was through Jesus, His Son, making a sacrifice for sin, to which, people can obtain Eternal Life.
The true bread that Jesus had come to give to people was His Flesh and Blood offered in sacrifice, and unless people ate of His Flesh and drank of His Blood, they cannot have Eternal Life now or in the future. Many people still found His Teaching on this hard to understand, and therefore, He told them that if they had difficulty in believing His Words on this, they would be amazed when He Resurrects and Ascends to Heaven. Their difficulty was because they were thinking of physical flesh and blood instead of spiritual truths that were involved. They failed to understand how Eternal Life could result from His death.
Many people were just more interested in Earthly benefits than spiritual life, and were disappointed in Jesus’ Teaching; therefore, they turned back from following Him. The Apostles, however, except Judas Iscariot, mentioned that they deeply trusted in the Lord and knew that the words He spake were truly life giving.
What can we learn from this? Christ is to the soul what bread is to the body, to which, He nourishes and supports spiritual life. His Body and His Blood purchase our redemption through sacrifice; therefore, we must acknowledge that He is the Bread of Life, the food for our souls!
Pharisees notice Unwashed Hands
The Jews commonly practiced the ceremonial washing of hands, to which they believed that those who encountered unclean people or things had to have water poured over their hands to cleanse themselves. This was not a command of the Law of Moses, but it was a tradition of the Pharisees. Jesus argued that this tradition was causing a misunderstanding of the Law for people, and it also stopped them from doing more important things that the Law required them to do.
Jesus then gives an example of this that the Law of Moses taught people to respect and care for their aged parents, but the Jews added the tradition that enabled them to ignore their parents—to which, they could make a vow that when they died, their money and goods could go to the Temple. Promising such things to God, they said they were not free to give them to anyone else, such as needy parents for example. However, they themselves continued to enjoy possessions all their lives, which, in their tradition, contradicted the plain teaching of the Law.
The Jews would not even eat certain foods, believing that some made them unclean. Jesus said that just as eating with unwashed hands did not make a person unclean, neither did eating prohibited foods. The people that were actually unclean to God were those that taught such things.
What makes a person unclean is the evil that proceeds out of the mouth, not the food that goes into it, because the source of all evil is a wicked heart. The Pharisees’ traditions of cleansing prevented them from seeing these facts, even though it was the goal that the Law of Moses’ cleansing rituals had pointed to.
What we can learn from this: Our wicked thoughts, affections, words, actions, deeds, etc. are what defile us, and only these. We must have the spiritual understanding of the Law of God that sin is evil and will cause a man to seek for the Grace of God to help deal with such evils.
Healing the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter
We are reading here in Mark 7:24-30; Matthew 15:21-28, where Jesus is in rough travel from Capernaum North over rough up lands near view of snowy summits of Lebanon, through wooded valleys to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Two days journey about 30-40 miles. Jesus moves north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
Jesus and His Disciples needed to rest for a while and went to Tyre and Sidon. A woman of that area asked Jesus to drive a demon out of her daughter, to which, He tested the sincerity of her faith before helping her. He did not answer her, so the woman pressed Him further. He then told the woman that His Work was with Israel, not surrounding nations; however, her pleas continued.
He then notes that the people of Israel were the favored ones (children) to His Ministry, and it was not right to neglect them to feed the dogs (probably speaking of Gentiles)—who were not fit to eat with the children at the table. She answers and says she would be willing to eat the crumbs on the floor that the dogs eat if He would be willing; therefore, impressed with her faith, He granted her request immediately.
Jesus is helping us learn: Faith is important to have when coming to Christ for help. This woman came to Christ, and at least had enough faith that could sample the crumbs upon the floor from the table where the children ate the bread (symbolically), to which, was enough for Christ to honor and heal her daughter. He regards our faith and is willing to hear us further when we believe that He can help us, and that we trust in His methods to do so.
Jesus Fed 4,000 more
Jesus returned to the region around the Sea of Galilee, and then continued to Decapolis, where there were many Gentiles. This was a time of ministry to many Gentiles. One of the people healed was a deaf and dumb (mute) man. Because of his deafness, Jesus used actions rather than words to ensure he had faith and understood what He wanted to do.
Jesus put His fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touching His tongue, looked up to Heaven and said, “Be opened.” The immediate healing caused tremendous excitement. Matthew links this astonishment to all the many other healings of the maimed, the lame, and the blind.
Jesus also had compassion when He saw the multitude of hungry people around, to whom He decided to feed. Previously, the crowd fed was mostly Jewish. This crowd is mostly Gentiles. The Disciples doubted whether Jesus would help all of them; however, Jesus did feed them as miraculously as He fed the Jews.
He fed 4,000 men, as well as women and children. He fed them with seven loaves and a few small fish. Seven baskets of fragments were gathered after the crowd had eaten.
How can this help us? The bountiful riches of Christ are always ready, even though the Disciples doubted He would help people, He did anyway. Christ showed that it doesn’t matter who someone is, if they are hungry, they should come to Him for He will provide for them (physically and/or spiritually).