Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
HAVE YOU EATEN OF THE TRUE BREAD OF LIFE?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
21 FEBRUARY 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
John 1:1 and 14
Preparation Verse: (John 4:10)
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
If I were to just say to you, “Have you eaten of the true bread of life?” And then ask you, “Have you eaten of the flesh of Jesus Christ?” And then, “Have you drunk of the blood of our Lord, as well?” Many of you would become troubled in your spirit, for we would picture the actual eating of someone's body and drinking their blood.
When Jesus told the people that they had to do this, many fell away, because they also had that same picture image in their minds. And the eating of the flesh of any unclean animal, which includes humans, and drinking any blood was specifically forbidden by God.
Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to eat any flesh without also eating some blood.
Therefore, Jesus could not have meant His statements as they were perceived by the people.
Neither are my questions meant in the same manner, if you perceived them as being other than spiritual questions.
So... let's start again. Have you ever baked bread from scratch?
Now you are probably thinking about putting the yeast into the warm water, measuring out the flour and other ingredients, then mixing it all together, kneading it, adding additional dustings of flour to keep it from sticking, putting it aside to rise, baking it, and then eating it.
But what if you really had to make your bread from scratch, as many did when Jesus talked about it?
You would have to start with plowing the field, sowing the seed, waiting for it to mature, harvesting it, threshing it, grinding it, and then doing as I previously mentioned.
That would really be hard, wouldn't it? But that is exactly what the people in Jesus' day had to do, and that is exactly what we have to do today, but most of us pay other people to do it for us.
Think about it. Our bread doesn't come down from heaven. Maybe we don’t all have to grow our own wheat in order to have bread. But someone does have to grow it or there wouldn't be any flour to make bread.
There is a lot of work that goes into making bread, but this is not the kind of bread that Jesus was talking about. In fact, we don't have to work at all to have the bread that Jesus referred to. All we have to do is receive it.
The manna came down from heaven. All the people had to do was gather it and prepare it. Yet, all those who ate of that bread eventually died.
In referring to Himself as bread, Jesus says in John 6:50 –
50. “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
So, what is really the difference?
The difference is really that of the physical versus that of the spiritual. Let's look a little further.
All around us is a large volume of waste. Almost everything we use involves some waste.
In the fields, the wheat that we use to make our bread contains more straw and chaff than it does grain.
If we left the chaff with the wheat, the bread we make from it would be ruined.
If we bake good bread and then try to put the chaff on it, it will also be ruined.
God wants us to remove the chaff from our lives. He wants us to throw it away. He doesn't want us to hoard it and try to use it later. For as with the bread, the chaff of the ungodly things around us will also ruin us.
As we saw in Exodus 16:20, the people still had chaff inside them. Their greed was a sin. And their greed made the good bread foul. Note verses 19 and 20:
19. And Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.”
20. But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.
Even if we eat good bread, there is still waste contained in it, and our bodies must eliminate it.
The bread that Jesus is offering has no waste in it. It is perfect.
No matter how hard we try, we cannot make a bread that does not involve some waste products. It will always be imperfect.
Whatever enters through our mouths will only be used in part; the remainder is waste and must be eliminated.
Even the manna that came down from heaven, while being perfectly created by God, would not bring eternal life. It would only sustain life as long as one continued eating it, or until they died of some other cause.
The whole world was created perfect by God, yet it is heading for destruction because it is full of corruption, which beings suffering and death to million of humans, and billions of animals every year.
We also were created perfect, but due to the fall of mankind, we now have a sin nature; and this sin nature will keep us out of heaven, unless the perfect atoning blood of Jesus Christ covers the sin.
John 1:1 and 14 says:
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.
14. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Part of this truth is that we must take Him into our bodies.
The common way to take something into our bodies is to eat it. But, as we said, if we eat of it in the usual way, there is waste. God is perfect and contains no waste. All of Him is good.
So the answer must be something else. We must bring Him into our lives in a spiritual form, not in a physical form.
How do we do this?
We do it by accepting God and His Word, Jesus Christ, the perfect bread.
We do it by accepting Jesus' atoning work upon the cross.
We do this by asking Him to forgive us, and resolving in ourselves to desire not to do those sinful things again.
We do it by confessing Him as Lord and Savior.
Does this then make us perfect as Jesus is perfect?
No, unfortunately it doesn't. We are still imperfect. But if the desire of our heart is to live for Jesus, then the chaff can be blown out by the Holy Spirit as fast as it comes in.
This brings up two other spiritual aspects of this bread of life relationship.
Before the use of modern machinery, the grain was taken up upon a hill to be threshed. The wind would be blowing across the top of the hill, and as the grain was threshed, the chaff, which is lighter than the grain, would blow away, leaving the grain.
The name for spirit in both Hebrew and Greek means wind or breath.
So, when we invite Jesus into our lives, our conviction of the sin in our lives threshes us, so that the Holy Wind, the Holy Spirit, can blow away the sin.
Now if we keep everything all bottled up inside, it will be just like trying to vacuum up the dust and dirt in our homes with no bag in the vacuum cleaner. All that is picked up will be blown all over the place, and the end result will be worse than the first.
So then, we must not be all bottled up inside with our sins.
We must open up by confessing them to God. And as we do this, the Holy Spirit just seems to blow out the chaff right along with our confession. Then the effect of having the bread of life will not be ruined.
The other spiritual aspect of this bread of life relationship has to do with the yeast we use in making our bread.
In the Bible, “yeast” or “leaven” spiritually speaks of sin. Manna had no leaven. The offerings of bread upon the altar also had no leaven in them.
Likewise, there is no sin, or leaven, in Jesus.
Think of how we make bread. We take good flour and other ingredients and mix them together with leaven. We knead it many times. We let it sit around until it multiplies in size. Then we rework it and let it rise again. Then we bake it so that the effect of the leaven is locked in.
Isn’t this exactly what we do with the sin in our lives?
Note how James expresses this in 1:15.
15. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
The bread of life is perfect just as it is. We don't have to do anything to make it look better or feel better. We don’t need any leaven for it. And we shouldn't desire to change it or cover it up to make it look and taste like something else. It's perfect just like it is.
Therefore we must go through our Temple of God, ourselves, and remove the leaven before it has a chance to grow.
And when we learn to continually do this, we can also appreciate the true flavor of having Jesus Christ in us, and we in Him.
So now we must all analyze ourselves, and ask ourselves, "What is the condition of my house? Is it full of chaff and other debris? What is in my breadbox? What kind of bread is in it? Or is it empty? Is there leaven there also?"
If we want everlasting life, we really have only one choice. We must accept Jesus Christ on His own terms. We must truly desire to eat the bread of life.