daily Broadcast

The Bread of Life, Part 1

From the series Jesus Is...

Two of the most important questions you may ever ask are: Who is Jesus? And why does He matter to me? In this program, Chip Ingram launches a series he’s co-teaching with his son, Ryan, Jesus Is. They’ll walk through 7 passages in the book of John, where Jesus described Himself – and explain what they reveal to us about Jesus’ character, deity, and authority.

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Message Transcript

You know, I actually think every single person on the planet should ask, “Who is Jesus?” Like, who is He really? I actually think if you have any intellectual integrity you have to ask that question. Who is this man that literally divided history, that is still intriguing, compelling to us to this day? Who is the person, this man that was this carpenter turned rabbi who lived in a very obscure part of the Roman Empire, eventually was executed by the Empire itself, and yet, two thousand years later, we are talking about Him and billions of people gathering around the world because of Him. Like, at some point you have to ask, “Who is this man?”

Now, I think even a better question, maybe even a more important question is, “Who does Jesus say that He is?” Like, not just who do we think He is and we all have some ideas and, like, “Oh my, I have this and…” But who does Jesus say that He actually is?

You know, in John’s gospel – there are four gospels, by the way. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are all telling the life of Jesus from different perspectives. In fact, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience so, really, declaring Jesus as Messiah. Mark is writing to a predominately Roman audience and so, it’s really this action-packed Jesus. Let’s see, Luke, he’s the doctor. He’s the historian. He’s really writing to the skeptic.

And John, well, John is writing to a people in Asia Minor around Ephesus and when he’s describing his interaction and writing about the story and the life of Jesus, he’s writing to the philosophical, the Hellenistic, the cultured. And he’s writing fundamentally so that we might not only know Him but believe in Him. And as he writes the account of Jesus’ life, there’s actually seven different places where Jesus says specifically who He is.

Like, you don’t have to wrestle with it. Like, if you’re sitting down with coffee with Jesus and you’re like, “Jesus, who are You?” And He would go, “I am.” And He does this seven different times. And He says, “I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the good shepherd. I am the gate. I am the vine.” “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Jesus, who are You? The first thing that He wants to reveal and tell us, “I am the bread of life.” Now, let me give you a little context. In fact, we are going to read just a section of Scripture. And so, I want you to kind of get ready as you’re listening to me. So, if you have your Bibles, or open your phones to John chapter 6, we’ll begin in verse 25. John chapter 6, verse 25.

The context for this statement, just the day before Jesus was feeding the five thousands. He’s out in the wilderness, people flock to Him, they find Him, He feeds five thousand people and then He sends His disciples on to Capernaum but He stays and prays and then He literally walks on water and nobody sees it but the disciples.

And so, He shows up onto the scene in Capernaum and everybody has been looking for Him, trying to get a piece of this miracle-worker, this bread-multiplier, this person that is going, like, “Hey, you know what? You can make bread? We want You as our leader.”

Because, by the way, anyone who can manufacture bread like that, we’ll never go hungry. In fact, we don’t even have to work anymore. This is great. You’re great. We want You.

And so, even in this context there’s some deeply political undertones as the people are looking for a political leader and one who will provide for them. And here’s where we pick up the story. John chapter 6, verse 25.

“When they found Him on the other side of the lake they asked Him, ‘Rabbi, when did You get here?’” Because they didn’t see Him walk on water. “Jesus answered,” and I love this, He doesn’t answer their question. How often Jesus does this, by the way. Read the gospels; it’s fascinating.

“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs I performed, but because you at the loaves and had your fill.” You got fed and you wanted more. Verse 27, “Do not work for food that spoils, that perishes, but food that endures to eternal life.”
Don’t spend your life striving after things that will eventually fade away and are of no eternal value. Strive after that which will last forever which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him, God the Father has placed His seal of approval.”

So, now, they are going to ask a different question. “Then they asked Him, ‘What must we do to do the work God requires?’” Their translation, or our translation of this is, literally, "What are the eternal life kinds of things?” And our context and their context, they are asking, “There must be something we have to do.”

Jesus’ answer, “The work of God,” notice this, “the work of God.” What is the work of God? Is this, “To believe.” Ooh. Not to be better, not to do better, not to earn it. But to believe in the One [who] has sent Me.

Verse 30, “So, they asked Him,” because they weren’t ready to believe in Him. And this is what we do when we are confronted with Jesus in such a way where we are like, “You know what? This is making me a little uncomfortable. I don’t really want to believe in the One who sent Me, because that means I have to change my life.” So, let’s change the topic.

So, they asked Him, “What sign, then, will You give that we may see it and believe You?” What will You do? Ooh. “Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness as it is written. He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” I don’t think it’s a good idea challenging Jesus, but here they went. “Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘always give us this bread,’” what You gave us yesterday must have sucked then, because I’m still hungry. Give us that bread.

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.’” The first declaration Jesus gives to us in revealing who He is, if you really want to know Jesus, what is He like? He says, “I am the bread of life.”

There’s so much here and in the rest of the chapter, I actually just want to unpack the six words in our time together today: “I am the bread of life.” And who is Jesus and what it means for us today.

When Jesus began, and I said there are seven “I am” statements, this spoke so much deeper to the original audience, the original hearers than it does today. When Jesus said, “I am,” here’s what He is saying to His audience. Jesus is the explanation and revelation of God to the world. He says, “I am. I am. I am the explanation, I am explaining what God is like. No, it’s even better than that. I am the revelation. I am revealing exactly what God is like.” When you see Jesus, when I see Jesus, when we look at Him, you do not just see a good man, you see God in flesh man.

And so, if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to know how God feels about injustice and the poor and the oppressed, look at Jesus. If you want to know how God responds to self-righteous jerks, look at Jesus.

See, that phrase “I am” is actually rooted all the way back into the Exodus story. Moses, he was wandering in the wilderness and he was tending sheep on the far side of the mountain. And he sees this burning bush and it doesn’t burn up, he’s curious, he goes over to it and God speaks to Him from amidst this burning bush that is not burning up. And He calls Moses to be the liberator of the people of Israel.

And he's like, “Who am I?” And God is like, “No, you don’t get it. It’s all about Me, not you. It doesn’t matter. I called you, so go.” And then eventually Moses gets to the point where he's like, “Okay, but what is Your name?” Like, who am I to tell sent me?

A name in the ancient day actually was a revelation of a person’s character and who they are, their identity. And so, when he asking, “what is Your name?” He’s not just saying, “I want to be able to have a name. I want to know who You are, what You’re like.” And then God reveals Himself and He gives Moses His covenant name. Three times He says this. He says, “I AM who I AM, Yahweh. I AM who I AM. I AM has sent you.” And sometimes I think Moses has got to be going, like, Okay, thank You. I Am. You told me I AM. What does that even mean? “The Lord, the God of your Fathers. This is My name forever. The name you shall call Me from generation to generation.” This word Yahweh, I AM. It’s ever-existing One, uncreated, sovereign Creator of all.

It’s interesting, when they translated the Hebrew Scripture into the Greek, it’s called the Septuagint, the phrase, the Greek phrase they use is ego eimi. And this is the very phrase Jesus uses seven different times to say, “This is Me. I am God. I am, Jesus, the ever-existing One. I am the uncreated Creator, I am the sovereign One walking this planet in flesh, in person, eternal, immutable,” which means changeless, “and active. I am, I am actively engaged and involved.”

When Jesus says, and if you’re going to sit down with coffee with Him, He’s going to begin with I AM. “I am the explanation and the revelation of God to this world.” And what does that mean? “I am going to explain it even more,” Jesus says, “because I am, goes so far, but let Me explain it and give you a picture. I am the bread.” In fact, all seven of the pictures are very visceral, tangible.

And so if you don’t have any understanding of the Jewish background, you can actually get the picture. And then if you do understand some of the Jewish background, it brings so much more depth and meaning to it.

He says, “I am the bread,” where Jesus is saying, “Only Jesus, only Me will finally and fully satisfy the desires of your heart. I will finally and fully satisfy.” This picture of bread is the picture of the very sustenance of life. It’s like we need food to survive and without it we can’t. And Jesus is saying, “I am the very sustenance of life.”

And when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, they show up on Mount Sinai with Moses, they get the law, these commands, and then they wander for forty years. God gives them manna, this heavenly bread that came down that provided for them when they were in the wasteland, when they weren’t able to provide on their own.

And as they got further away from Mount Sinai and from that wandering moment for the Jewish people, the bread, that manna actually began to become synonymous with the Law of God that came down from Mount Sinai. And so, when the Jewish people began to talk about the very bread, they began to have this metaphor that was connected to the very words of God that bring life. That this manna is really connected to the Torah and His very words of life that are bringing life.

And the Greek thinker who would be reading this in the Hellenistic culture would understand the bread as this symbol of the wisdom and the wisdom of the world and the wisdom the gods that actually is life giving and Jesus is saying, “Yeah, I’m all of it. I’m all of it. I’m the sustainer of life, I’m the wisdom of life, I’m the very Word of God.”

In fact, that’s the reason John would begin and say, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Moving on to John 1:14 and he’ll say, “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” “I am the bread of life.”

And what our hearts need more than anything else is to recognize that only Jesus can finally and fully satisfy the desires of our heart. He actually gives us some descriptors of what kind of bread this is. He says it’s true bread, it’s heavenly bread, it’s living bread. What kind of bread am I? Well, it’s true. It’s true bread as opposed to fake or substitute bread. It’s genuine. I’m authentic. It’s heavenly bread as opposed to earthly or temporal. It's eternal kind of bread. It’s living bread as opposed to dead or lifeless or poison.

You know, we have built inside of us cravings and desires. And I think there are some of us that kind of think that the Christian life is somehow the oppression of desires and that’s not Christianity at all. That’s actually Buddhism more than that. And then there’s also this idea of desires that, in our culture and day, is the exploitation of desires. And that’s hedonism where you give way to all your desires. In fact, in Christianity, God says: I created your desires and they are actually good in the context upon which I created them. And, in fact, they are to point to the deeper longing that you need.

Do you ever notice that as you eat, you are satisfied but you are never fully satisfied, because eventually you’re hungry. A little bit later, you know, today I’m going to have some lunch because I’m going to be hungry, but I ate breakfast this morning and, yet, later I’m hungry. I’m never fully or finally satisfied.

And Jesus says it points to the longing of our soul and heart that one day that someone might fully and finally satisfy and He says, “I’m here. I’m here.”