daily Broadcast

The Bread of Life, Part 2

From the series Jesus Is...

Have you ever looked in your fridge or pantry and said, I’m hungry but don’t know what I want? In this program, guest teacher Ryan Ingram reveals how that feeling can be true for us spiritually, too! As he continues our series, Jesus Is, Ryan will talk about Jesus as ‘The Bread of Life’ and why He’s the only fulfilling answer to the emptiness of our souls.

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Message Transcript

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?

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?”

The first thing that He wants to reveal and tell us, “I am the bread of life.” 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.

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 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 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 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.” It’s ever-existing One, uncreated, sovereign Creator of all.

And this is the very phrase Jesus uses seven different times to say, “This is Me. I am God."

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.”

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.”

And I think part of the question and intention that we have to wrestle with is if Jesus really only finally and fully satisfies, why aren’t all of us craving Him? Did you realize, I didn’t know this until recently, seventy-five percent of the population in the U.S. are chronically dehydrated? Three out of four of you are dehydrated.

It was really fascinating. Because it was like, well, why? If we are dehydrated, why don’t we drink water? One article wrote this, “You would think that our bodies would tell us we are thirsty, but the modern world’s obsession for coffee, soft drinks, fruit juices, and processed foods and additives,” listen to this, “…has desensitized our thirst mechanism. We have forgotten what it feels like to be thirsty. We mistake it for hunger or we reach for a coffee or a sugary drink before reaching for water.”

And Jesus says: You have been reaching for things that are substitutes and I’m the true bread. You’ve been reaching for things. Yeah, it kind of quenches temporarily, but I’m heavenly, I’m eternal. You have been reaching for these things, but honestly, some of the things you’re reaching for are just poison that are slowly killing you and I’m the life-giving, living bread. Only Jesus will finally and fully satisfy.

And here’s what we do. And here’s the problem and what we have to realize. You cannot solve a spiritual problem with a physical solution. This is what we try to do. We try to fill our spiritual problem, the ache in our heart, the longing with some physical thing. You know what? If I just was prettier. If I just had more followers. If I just was more popular. If I just, you know, drove a better car, if I had a nicer house, if I had a better job then I’ll finally be satisfied.

Now, here’s another interesting thing. Spirituality in the U.S. is not on the decline but it’s on the incline. It’s growing. In fact, research from Barna that literally just came out said that ninety-one percent of Americans either believe in or are open to the idea of a spiritual or supernatural dimension. An astonishing seventy-four percent say they would like to grow spiritually. Because we are craving for something to finally satisfy, to make sense of the world, to help us navigate and figure it out.

Philip Yancey wrote, “A society that denies the supernatural usually ends up elevating the natural to a supernatural status…Sophisticated moderns have not renounced transcendence but rather replaced it with weak substitutes.” We have replaced it with keeping up with the Joneses, the American Dream, having just the right person in our life.

I AM. Jesus is the explanation, revelation of God to the world. The bread only Jesus can finally, fully satisfy of life. Jesus is the source of meaning and purpose for your life.

There are a few words in the Greek for life. The two primary ones is zoë and bio. Bio has to do with the quantity of life, how much life you have. Zoë has to do with the quality of life: meaning, purpose, wonder, amazement. That’s the zoë life.

John is using the word zoë here. Like Jesus is offering zoë life, eternal kind of life, life that is filled with meaning and purpose in life. In fact, He’s not just offering it. We’ve got to get this. He’s not just offering it. He’s saying He is it. He is meaning; He is purpose.

And, in fact, a little bit later on He would go and say this in John chapter 6, “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes,” we get that word again, “has,” present tense, “eternal life.” Believe: to place your weight upon, to put one’s full trust in. Has eternal life. Well, what is eternal life?

John chapter 17, verse 3 Jesus defines eternal life, “Now this is eternal life, that they know,” personally know, “You.” In relationship with the one true God and with Jesus Christ. That is eternal life. Like, eternal life isn’t later on someday way out there when I die, get my fire insurance, hello, and now I’m good. Eternal life starts today in personal relationship with Jesus. And the minute you step into relationship with Him, He is meaning, purpose, and satisfaction and eternal life starts in the moment you say yes to Him and you put your trust on Him.

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here, right now in front of you is bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. What is this bread? It’s my flesh, which I give for the life of the world.”

“My body,” as He would say in another gospel, “broken for you.” On the cross, laid out. “And My blood poured out for you,” to welcome you in to life itself.

John Piper, this pastor, he has this great line about this. He says that Jesus doesn’t want to give bread, but to be bread. Jesus doesn’t want to give bread. And that’s what the people were thinking about Him. “Could You give us some of this? I want to get a little something from You and go on my merry way. I want to get a little something from You and make my life better and then do my own thing.” And that’s what we want and that’s why crystals are kind of so popular is we want to get something from it to be able to do our thing, live our vision, have our way, and pursue what we think will bring meaning and purpose and satisfaction and we keep after it, keep after it. Jesus doesn’t want to give bread, He wants to be bread.

I say this to Jenny every so often and if you’re married and a guy, a husband, don’t do this. But I do this. It’s joking. It’s tongue in cheek. But I just, I sometimes I look at Jenny and go, “Jenny, you’re my favorite wife.” What’s wrong with that?

Do you see how odd that feels? How wrong that seems? “You’re my favorite.” No, no, no. You’re my only. See, when we think about Jesus, when we think about what He provides and the meaning and purpose, we go, we kind of prioritize in hierarchy and go, “You know what, Jesus? You’re at the top, You’re my favorite.” He doesn’t want to be your favorite, by the way. He wants to be your only.

He's like: No, He is meaning. He is purpose. And everything else, everything else other than Jesus is just simply a fake, a substitute. It will never fully satisfy. And you can run after it and you can chase after it and you can search for it and you can build a career around it, you can build your life around your kids and your marriage and whatever else. And though those are good things, they will not finally, fully satisfy. They will not bring you meaning. Only Jesus. Only Him. He is the bread of life.

I have a buddy and he has everything that you would think about that would come to your mind that you’d go, “If I had that then I would be, you know, I’d be so happy.” He’s good looking; he’s got a good looking wife; he’s got good looking, smart kids. He’s so wealthy he can travel whenever he wants, go wherever he wants. He doesn’t have to work anymore, but he still does. He’s got a great house. I mean, everything you could dream of.

And because I’ve known him and because we have journeyed, what I know that no one else sees because what we see is the substitute, we see the exterior that looks good but isn’t good on the inside that is hollow and empty, we see that and go, “You know what? I’m going to go after that.” And if you just could peel behind and rip it open a little bit and see that, no, it’s actually empty and hollow what I know is he is chasing after something else and other things because that doesn’t satisfy him.

And our hearts and our souls often are so victimized by the pursuits and the demands of what we think will actually satisfy. And it’s Jesus. It always has been, it always will be.

A question is what will we do with Jesus? How will we respond to who He is? I think there’s at least two responses. Maybe two words I want to give you: repentance and renewal.

Repentance, it means to change your mind, which results in a change of direction. Repentance, you know, is this turnabout. It literally means to change your mind that results then in a change of direction.

And especially for those in this room who have never begun a relationship with Jesus, who have never stepped into this new life that I’ve been talking about, this eternal kind of life, to know Him, it’s to change your mind about what brings satisfaction, to change your mind about what brings meaning and purpose, to change your mind and go, “You know what? That job, that career, that person never will. That bottle, those pills? They never will. And I’m going to turn my face toward Jesus and I’m going to say yes to You, Jesus. And today I place my faith, which is my trust in You, the full weight of my life, and I say yes to You. Would You come into my life and make me new?” And He longs to have a personal relationship with you. And that’s repentance.

And if you’re in a place where you have yet to begin a relationship with Jesus, I want to invite you as I give you time just to process, to pray a simple prayer. “God, I’m tired of running after those things and they have never satisfied me. Today, I am turning to You, Jesus. I believe You are the bread of life. Would You come into my life and make me new?” And when you respond and you call out, every single time He moves and He changes and transforms. And the Spirit of God comes and lives and dwells inside of you, bringing life. It’s repentance.

The other word is renewal. And I think many of us in this room, that’s the word for us. It’s renewal. Renewal is an insistence of resuming an activity or a state after an interruption.

Our hearts are easily adrift from God, we have gotten out of whack, we understand, we have heard the message before. And, yet, we have run after those other things. In fact, I was talking with another buddy this last week and he was just sharing. He was like, “You know, Ryan, materialism is my thing. And right now is the heaviest and the hardest work for me. And you know what I had to do? I had to go to small group out of an act of resistance to materialism in me.” But just that recognition. Like, I need renewal. I need to pick back up what I have left off. I need return to my first love and this moment.

Remember the bread of life. Would your prayer be one of renewal? Where you go, “God, I recognize I have been adding things to You. I want to get a little Jesus, but I want to go do my own thing. And today I want You to be my everything. I’m picking it back up. I’m picking it back up with You.”