Sufficient: Bread of Life by Abidan Shah, PhD

SUFFICIENT – BREAD OF LIFE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: How many of ya’ll love bread? How many of ya’ll remember those sourdough breads from those old buffet restaurants like Ryan’s, Western Sizzlin’, Quincy’s, Shoney’s, or Golden Corral? This goes back to our college days back in Northeast Georgia. Nicole and I went out to eat at a Ryan’s steakhouse, and I must’ve been really hungry that day and ended up eating about 10-15 rolls with honey butter. Then, I also ate the regular buffet. Needless to say, it was a very uncomfortable night! In today’s message, we’re going to learn about a bread that you can keep eating and never get sick. In fact, the more you eat, the better. Of course, I am referring to Jesus, the Bread of Life. This is our first message in our series titled “Sufficient.” It was inspired by last weekend’s sermon where Jesus said in Matthew 6:34“Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” and I added, “And Jesus is sufficient for today.” The question that comes up is, “How is Jesus sufficient?” To answer that, we will look at the 7 “I am” statements of Jesus from the Gospel of John. Main point: Jesus is the Bread of Life. When we place our faith in him, he becomes our sustenance through life. He nourishes us before our darkest hours and through the longest wilderness. He leads us in the truth of God and reveals to us the wisdom of God. He is sufficient to carry us into eternal life.

John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Context: Typically, when people come to this passage, they think of the bread today, as I did a few moments ago. They talk about its ingredients, nutrients, types, tastes, baking methods, or even the history of bread. Although, there can be some wonderful insights from just generally discussing bread, this is not the best way to get the true message of Jesus’ statement— “I am the bread of life.” Instead, we must ask: What did he mean by that statement in its context? How did the people who were listening to understand it? Why did the apostle John include it in his gospel?

To start with, when Jesus made statements likeJohn 6:48 “I am the bread of life,” John 8:24 “…for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins,” John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM,” and John 13:19 “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am (He),” they heard the name of God in the “I am.” A very familiar example of that name in the Old Testament is when Moses asked God what name he should give to the Hebrews when they ask who sent you, Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” In the Hebrew, it is “ehyeyh aser ehyeh.” This was translated in the LXX as “ego eimi.” I can give many other examples, but here’s one more from Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He…” Here the Hebrew is “ani hu,” which is also translated as “ego eimi.” “Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.” The Rabbinic tradition of the time shows that the Jewish people of the time not only saw “I am” as the name of God but they also saw it as the actual presence of God! (See Raymond Brown, David Daube, C.H. Dodd). One example of this is in John 10:33 when Jesus asked the Jewish leaders, sort of sarcastically, which good works where they going to stone him for, they responded, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Then, on the night of the crucifixion, when they came to arrest him in, Jesus asked them in John 18:4 “…Whom are you seeking?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Here’s the Point of all this: When Jesus used that short statement “I am,” he was claiming deity. The Messiah was supposed to be that, albeit, when he came to his own, his own received him not.

Application: What do you believe about Jesus? As C. S. Lewis put it (paraphrase), “Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. You have to pick.”

Now, let’s back up to the beginning of this entire discourse. It starts with the feeding of the 5000 with five loaves and two fish, more than likely 15,000 with women and children. I read the account from Matthew, but it is found in all four gospels. Listen to the account in John 6        4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. What was the feast of the Passover all about? The Feast of the Passover (Pesach) along with the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Masot) were joint festivals that commemorated the freedom of the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt. Of course, the blood of the Lamb was to be applied to the doorpost of the house. Each family was to eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. I don’t have time to go in depth here. I preached on this before and its on my blogsite. With this multitude, there is fish but no lamb because the Lamb is already there. Bread is the focus. At the Passover, it was to be unleavened bread because there’s no time to wait for the yeast to rise. They are about to walk into a dark night. There is urgency and uncertainty, but as long as their bellies are full, they will be okay.

So also, Jesus is our bread through our darkest nights of urgencies and uncertainties. 

Application: Through your darkest hours, who sustains you?

After they ate the fish and the bread, the people were still not satisfied. They wanted more signs. John 6       30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” How interesting that once again the topic of “bread” comes up. This time, it’s not the unleavened bread before a dark night, but the longing for the bread of Egypt in their wilderness journey. Exodus 16      2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” This crowd had forgotten their centuries of slavery in Egypt, and they were longing for bread “to the full”! As you know, God rained down bread from heaven. Listen to Jesus in John 6       32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” The Manna was not the ultimate goal. It was meant to sustain but not ultimately. It was only a temporary fix for their 40 years in the wilderness.

Ultimately, Jesus is our true bread who sustains us through all the long wildernesses of life.

Application: Through your long wilderness, who sustains you?

Did the Jewish leaders understand what Jesus was saying to them? Of course not. In fact, they failed the same test their forefathers failed! John 6        38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” 41The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Let’s go back to Exodus again. Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” In other words, the physical bread was a test of how they would receive the spiritual bread that also came from heaven. What was this spiritual bread? Deuteronomy 8         1 “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.

John 6        48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Jesus not only reveals to us the Truth of God but he himself is the Truth of God.

Application: Are you feeding upon the Truth of God? Are you feeding upon Jesus?

By the way, the bread of God’s Word is not just his commandment but also his wisdom for life. Ezekiel 2         7 You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” 9Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe. 3:1 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.

Application: Are you seeking the wisdom from God’s Word for your life? Are you feeding upon Jesus.

Finally, Jesus is the bread that sustains us throughout eternity. John 6       52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

Are you saved? Are you feeding on Jesus? What substitute have you allowed to sustain and nourish you?

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