Week 7: John 6 Living Bread

Monday: That nothing may be lost

Read John 6:12-13, 37-40, Psalm 136, Hebrews 6:1-12, 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

Many Christians unnecessarily doubt their salvation. When we sin, it’s easy to let doubt and distance build up in our hearts instead of returning to the open arms of our Father. Jesus makes it clear in this passage that he doesn’t want one crumb of his kingdom to be lost. In fact, his kingdom (12 tribes, 12 disciples, 12 basketfuls) will be characterized by gathering and uniting, not scattering. God knows that even his redeemed will sin. Jesus took the punishment so that we would not punish ourselves, but rather, we’d draw near to him even more when we inevitably mess up.

God’s enduring love (Hebrew: hesed) is a major theme throughout scripture. In fact, the whole bible could be summed up as the story of God proving and making possible an eternal love for his people. The next time you sin and start to feel distant or guilty, remember the great lengths God has gone to throughout all of history to gather us in despite our sin. He wants all people to be saved – including the people who are already saved!

Sometimes people even decide not to take communion (the bread of life and blood of Jesus) because they feel guilty of sin. This is a bad habit and, I believe, a false doctrine based on a wrong interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:27-34. The Corinthian’s practice of not waiting for one another (classism) and getting drunk was the unworthy thing they were to examine. If we had to be perfect before taking communion, none of us would ever be able to take it. Moreover, God has made us perfect and worthy because of the broken body of Christ! Saints who sin should take the bread of life and live!

Tuesday: So they gathered them up and filled 12 baskets

Read John 6:12-13, Exodus 16:14-15, Luke 22:14-23, Acts 20:7

The earliest Christians emphasized the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 in John 6 and its allusion to the manna of Exodus 16 during their times of communion. The Didache (The Teaching) is one of the oldest extra-biblical writings we have. In a section about communion it says:

Concerning the Eucharist [communion], give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank you, God, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever. Next, concerning the broken bread: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. To you is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.

Didache 9:1-4

We often (rightly) focus on the broken body of Jesus on the cross as we take communion. The earliest Christians (also rightly) focused on the unity that the broken body became in the miracle of a united church fellowship. Next week when you take communion, don’t just bow your head and consider your sinfulness. Look up and around at the miracle of the gathering that happens each week because of the broken body of Christ.

Wednesday: Walking on the sea

Read John 6:16-21, Exodus 14:21, Joshua 3:13-16, Jonah 1:11-15, Job 9:1-8

Having miraculously fed the people of Israel like Moses with the manna, Jesus now does a sea miracle like Moses parting the sea. There are several claims of divinity hidden just below the surface of this text. (Pun intended!)

The people of God were familiar with water miracles. Both Moses and Joshua led God’s people through the sea/river. In the story of Jonah, God calms the storm after Jonah is offered almost as a sacrifice.

But what Jesus does in these few verses is greater than anything Moses, Joshua or Jonah did. He does not go through the waters but goes “walking on the sea” itself. (Literally on the waves.) Job attributed such an action to God alone. Moreover, he calms the water with his voice just as the water had originally been created with the very voice of God.

Lastly, when Jesus addresses his disciples he says, “It is I.” The Greek here is literally “I am.” It’s the same word used for the 7 I am statements that we are about to encounter as we continue through John. His introduction on the water almost serves as a literary introduction to the I am statements to come.

The Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus because he claimed he was equal with God. We often make the opposite mistake and fail to recognize just how powerful he claimed to be. Your Jesus walks ON the sea! Jesus is Lord.

Thursday: This is the work of God, that you believe

Read John 6:25-29, John 3:16-18, Mark 1:14-15, Mark 9:14-29, James 2:14-26

Sometimes, in our zeal to be Christians who show faith by our works, we diminish the importance of faith. Throughout John, Jesus places enormous emphasis on faith and belief. Here he even claims that this is the work God is doing in the world through Jesus’ miracles. God wants the world to believe. Our battle is not and has never been faith versus works but rather, we fight for true faith, or a faith that works.

Belief is not a small thing. True belief changes everything. If we forget this we may stop seeing God working and put too much value on our works, traditions, or devotion. Those are good things that come from our faith but can never replace our faith. In Mark 1 we get the barebones message of Jesus: “Repent and believe in the gospel.” Belief in the gospel is put on par with repentance.

Do you believe the gospel (good news)? Do you know what the gospel is? To believe in the gospel is to see everything the Jesus way. It’s a total worldview change that penetrates every aspect of our lives. That’s not a wimpy belief! Pray a prayer that praises God for the good news (creation, fall, redemption, restoration). May we, like the demon possessed boy’s father proclaim, “I believe! Help me with my unbelief!”

Friday: Manna in the wilderness

Read John 6:30-34, Exodus 16, Psalm 78:23-24, 1 Corinthians 10:1-22

One of the practical and pressing needs during the miraculous ministry of Moses was how to feed a million mouths in the wilderness. In fact, this was so pressing that the awe of crossing the sea wears off almost instantly. Like a mother, God was ready with providence and a plan to feed his hungry children. Every morning, the dew on the ground would become a strange type of bread. They called it manna which literally means, “What is it?” (Kind of like calling a candy bar a Whatchamacallit?) This bread came down from heaven for 40 years until they entered the Promised Land.

If we were to place our selves in an era of Old Testament history, the wandering of the wilderness would be a good fit. We’ve been saved by having our sins passed over while the firstborn died (the cross) and going through the sea (baptism). And now, like Israel, we’re waiting to enter fully into God’s promise of restoration. We’re wanderers without a true home in this world that is destined to be shaken one final time. How are we to be sustained as we hunger in the wilderness? Well, it is not manna that has come down from heaven, but Jesus himself is our bread that came down from heaven. Instead of having to wonder what he is, he constantly proves himself to be the great I am; God in the flesh. He’s God’s providence and promise as we wander and wait for redemption to become the restoration promised at the last day.

John uses the word “grumbling” often in this text. This is the same word that was used of the Israelites as they hungered. This wilderness world gives us plenty to grumble about! But God’s people choose to be humble and not grumble because we have all that we need in the manna (man) from heaven.

Saturday: Eat the flesh and drink the blood

Read John 6:52-59, John 2:17, Psalm 34:8, Isaiah 25:6-9, Genesis 3

Food and worship go hand in hand throughout scripture. Even the visions of God’s return are illustrated as banquets and feasts. Our prayers and sacrifices have aromas. We are urged to taste and see that the Lord is good. Even the first act of anti-worship (sin) involves eating forbidden fruit. All of this speaks to an undeniable truth that makes us human: we have appetites.

We hunger and thirst and seek to fill what’s empty in our stomachs and our souls. As you get ready for John 7 think about your appetite. (We are going to move from living bread to living water just as Israel moved from bread from heaven to water from the rock in Exodus 16-17) What have you hungered for? What do you crave? What fills you up?

In the temple, Jesus proclaimed that zeal for the house of the Lord consumed him. This is an appetite word. What consumes you?


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