The Bread of Life–John 6 Cont’d

It is kind of amazing, but even though Jesus gave his life for us, he said we were a gift from the Father!  Since Jesus is the bread of life, each of us that believe in him will be loved, provided for and protected.  What is more–since he loves us unconditionally, we can be assured that his commitment to us is both unwavering and everlasting.  In spite of those assurances, so many people fail to follow him.  They choose to do things “their way” and live hollow, chaotic lives.  It really is God’s desire that no one miss out on eternal life.  When we choose to follow the Lord, he promises that he will never lose us or drive us away.  What an wonderful promise from a God that has always kept his promises. 

So, what does that require from us, it is simple—trust him and follow him.  Once we do, he takes care of the rest. He provides us his word and spirit to guide us.  He leads us through the trials and temptations of life to complete us and give us maturity.  He walks with us daily and continues his work until we join him at the end of our journey, and finally, he brings us home to spend eternity as his children, with him–in Heaven.  Our part is easy, his part is amazing!

 God Bless You

35 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. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Feed Your Spirit, Not Your Tummy–John 6 Cont’d

We are such creatures of habit. Whenever we can find a way to save labor or get freebies, we are all about finding the way to take full advantage. Jesus knew that. He also accepted that the crowds that were chasing him largely consisted of folks that were intrigued by the miracles and hopeful for more free food. Jesus wanted to explain to the people that his role is to give them eternal life; not simply daily nourishment.  Jesus his hope was that while the miracles drew the crowd, the message would change their lives. Free food never satisfied for long. The crowd would want more and better. Restoration of their spirits and relationship with God–that would last forever. 

 What about us? Why are we following God?  Is it because we love him and want eternal life with him? Are we seeking God for what he can do to provide food for today and free wealth here on earth? If that is so, then we are not any different than the crowd that chased after Jesus. He wants us to follow him, simply because we long for more than this world can offer. He wants us to understand that his provision is for our eternal life. If we are willing to secure for ourselves his eternal gift, then he will provide for us on earth and in heaven. In Matthew 6:33, he said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 God Bless You

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”

To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”

Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”

Waste Not, Want not–John 6 Part 2

It is easy to lose focus when things are going well.  Only a short time before, the disciples were completely overwhelmed with the idea that they were going to have to feed 5000 men and their families.  Then Jesus prayed and started distributing bread and fish. Then when everyone was fed, Jesus brought the disciples back to reality—Go pick up the leftovers! Amazingly, there were 12 baskets of leftovers.  After their experience, Jesus made sure his guys were also well fed.  God provided what was needed.  It was a generous meal, but not a gluttonous feast.

Then Jesus had to leave.  He knew men’s hearts.  They were grateful, but,  they also knew he was a man from God. They would make him King—the leader to go show those Romans who was boss. Jesus was not there to show men who was boss; he was there to show men who God really was—his love, his plan and his commitment to the ones he created.  So he withdrew, the people would go home and would have a memory of a time when God showed up and provided a nice picnic.

God still provides today.  There are times when he does truly miraculous things that astound and amaze.  But mostly God does the things necessary to show us who he is and how he loves us.  The longer we follow him, the more apparent it is that he wants us to say focused on the message and not on the miracles.  We are called to make the most of his provision and to share what we have seen with those who are empty, lost and hopeless. Miracles are great to see, but they pass and in the end, we move on and cling to him, not the miracle—waste not, want not!

God Bless You

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Table for 5000 Please–John 6 Part 1

Can you imagine the staggering impact Jesus’ question must have had on the disciples…How are we going to feed these folks. The buzz among his men must have been a mixture of shock and awe.  Clearly, there was no way either economically or logistically for the disciples to feed this crowd.  Yet, they have seen Jesus do amazing things every day.  So the brainstorming begins–it will take a half year’s salary, but that does not even deal with who will have that kind of supply! Andrew found a boy with a fish–kid’s meal–I am sure Jesus smiled at that one and said, “Okay, that should work!”

Remember, this same Jesus called the universe into being.  Light, earth, vegetation, sea creatures, birds, land animals and ultimately man. He has turned water into wine.  He has healed the sick, raised the dead, made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He has cleansed lepers, and astounded Rabbi’s–So what’s a little bread and fish among friends!!!

We need to remember–God has faced countless and impossible challenges for thousands of years.  He can handle the big ones like parting a sea or feeding a mob.  But, he takes equal care in  protecting his kids and meeting their needs.  He gets giddy about feeding a family.  But nothing brings him more joy than restoring that eternal bond with one of his own. We do not always know how God will execute his plan, but, with a little faith, we can rest easy that he is absolutely going to do so with excellence and power. What a guy to have a picnic with…right?

God Bless You

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

It Is Not The Messenger, or the Book–John 5 Final

We have all been there.  3 seconds left, 4th and goal–quarterback steps back and lobs the ball into the end zone…Now depending on which team you are cheering for, in that brief moment you become completely engrossed and invested in the outcome.  And when the ball hits the ground–if you were rooting for the offense, you are devastated.  Not because the player missed the ball, really, but because the team was so close–but missed the win.  NEWS FLASH—that was the emotion Jesus and his Father God felt as Jesus started his ministry. They were sporting an utter sense of frustration as the people were scouring the right text and listening to the right people–and yet, they were completely missing the point and the message.

God wanted to have a relationship with these people.  He was willing to meet them where they were and simply restore the bond he forged with Adam in the Garden.  But, men would not have it.  They needed a structure to follow and goals to meet.  They needed boxes to check–so they could wave their spiritual report card at God, and show Him how lucky He was to have them. I can almost hear the utter tension in Jesus voice as he explains to these people that He (JESUS) is the message and the way to restore the bond. Sadly, I can also hear the frustration in the gasps of the religious folk, they would never accept such a simple solution. “This Heretic is claiming to be God…ARRRGH!”  Game Over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It still happens. We start out grateful to be redeemed—but as time passes, we want to draft spiritual checklists.  Some are as simple as, “I am better than Joe over there!!!”  While others require an algorithm of church attendance, bible study, refraining from pet sins and using the right spiritual buzzwords. Either version is an EPIC failure!  My friend–said it best, “There is no Christ plus, because, Christ is the Plus!” When we meet Christ, he begins the work and carries it to completion until he returns (Phil 1:6).  Don’t worship the rules, the traditions or even the Bible—simply worship our Lord and Savior, he is the point. When we do—Touchdown!!! And the crowd goes wild!!!!!

God Bless You

You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study[c] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Truly Honoring the Father–John 5 Part 2

As Jesus’ reputation grew and he healed those that came to him—He quickly lost favor with the Jewish leaders.  He simply told the truth– he was modeling his Father.  He had the same compassion, the same desire for the people’s salvation and the same realization of what was important.  He was not defying authority, he was simply “in authority.”  Each act and word was sanctioned by God! Sadly, the ones that were always looking for a Messiah—were the Messiah’s chief persecutors. Jesus was not surprised, but he was also not intimidated.  He chose to demonstrate God’s love and character no matter the time, place or opposition.

In our lives, we are faced with the same choice each day.  Will we resemble God or the culture of this fallen world.  Amazingly, it is a hard call.  All pressure to conform to the pattern of this world is brought to bear on us.  Education, employers, entertainment and the media is scheduled and molded to stand as a barrier between us and the Lord.  But there are great promises in his word—

  • Nothing will separate us from the Love of God–Romans 8
  • There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus—Romans 8
  • If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation—2 Corinthians 5
  • And Lo I am with you always—even till the end of the age—Matthew 28
  • To as many as believe on him, he gives the right to be children of God—John 1

 

We have nothing or no one to fear! We simply must, as Jesus did, know there will be opposition and face it with the confidence of a King’s adopted heir! Do not be afraid, the old hymn says it best–Our hope is built on nothing less than JESUS love and righteousness!

God Bless You

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

The Object of Faith–John 5 Part 1

Sometimes we are in the right place, but looking for the wrong thing.  Jesus encountered a man that had been coming to the pool for healing for 38 years.  What tenacity, what devotion, what faith.  But, sadly his faith, devotion and tenacity was aimed at the pool and not at the creator of the pool.  Well that was until Jesus arrived.  Jesus healed the man.  He saw his struggle, he admired his faith and ended his wait.  Jesus simply healed him. 

Soon after, the man passed the religious leaders.  He was happily walking home after being an invalid for 38 years.  Sadly, all the religious leaders noticed was that he was carrying his mat during the Sabbath…REALLY! Here stood men that had been pursuing God with disciplined fury their entire life, and on the day they run smack into him all they could see was a man carrying a mat!

Then and now, one has to focus on the right object of faith, not simply faith itself.  Unless we trust the hand of God, our faith is pretty useless.  Whether we put our faith in the rules and regulations of the day, or if we put it in some stirring waters of a fabled pool–we will be equally unfulfilled and disappointed in the obvious outcome.

God says that if we will trust HIM first and foremost–not his rules, not his creations not even his pastors, teachers and leaders–then HE will provide, protect and execute his plan for our lives.  There are no alternative ways. He does not provide a plan B.  He loves to see faith and tenacity, but, he requires that it be in the right object–HIM!

God Bless You

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.