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IS THERE ANY FOOD MORE IMPORTANT THAN BREAD FROM HEAVEN?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

4 AUGUST 1991

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 2:8-9
            3:22-24
Nehemiah 9:15-18
Job 1:21
John 6:22-35

Preparation Verse: (John 6:35)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

God has given us everything we could ever need or desire – a fact that we all too often forget.

As we discussed last week:

When he took Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and had Uriah killed, King David forgot about the things that God had done for him

And as we discussed before, this was exactly what the prophet Nathan was sent to remind David about, so that he would repent and return to the Lord.

But even with his repentance, David lost much of what the Lord had given him.

We don't have to fall into the traps of the devil as David did.

We have to do very little for God other than to be obedient; and God, in all His love, will provide for us.

We must not get confused. The gift is not greater than the Giver.

As Job recounted in 1:21: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.”

He provided for Adam and Eve, and all who would follow. Note Genesis 2:8-9.

8. And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

9. And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

But as we know, Eve and Adam were not satisfied with what God had given them; they wanted more, and in their quest they ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

With that sin came their loss of everything else in the garden – both for them and for us today.

Let's take a look at Genesis 3:22-24, and see the extent of this loss.

22. Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" –

23. therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.

24. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.

The only work that they had to do in the garden was to pick and eat the fruit. Everything else was done for them.

But because they desired more than God had given them, they now had to cultivate their own land to get their own food.

They could never again, in this world, enter the paradise of Eden.

It was lost because of their greed and disobedience.

The bread of heaven is much like that which was in the garden: the fruit of the tree of life.

Adam and Eve chose to be like God, rather than to be with God.

This is a condition that has plagued our societies ever since.

An example of this took place after the return from the Israelites captivity in Babylon, when Nehemiah had to remind the people of their past and present mistakes.

Please turn in your Bibles to Nehemiah 9:15f, and observe what he says in his prayer:

15. "Thou didst provide bread from heaven for them for their hunger,

Thou didst bring forth water from a rock for them for their thirst,

And Thou didst tell them to enter in order to possess

The land which Thou didst swear to give them.

God was faithful in His promise to lead the people out of Egypt and into the promised land.

The people had seen many miracles, yet they lost faith and became impatient; but God still gave them their bread and water.

What they received was the physical bread and water, and not that which was spiritual, even though both came from heaven.

As a result of this, Nehemiah reminds them, and God, of what happened, for the same thing could happen again.

16. "But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly;

They became stubborn and would not listen to Thy commandments.

17. "And they refused to listen,

And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them;

So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.

But Thou art a God of forgiveness,

Gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness;
And Thou didst not forsake them.

18. "Even when they made for themselves

A calf of molten metal

And said, 'This is your God

Who brought you up from Egypt,'

And committed great blasphemies,

The Israelites had done a great many things wrong, and Nehemiah was praying that they would not turn away again; but in a few years, they did.

In about 500 years, their leaders became so hard of heart, that they even rejected the Lord Jesus Himself, their true bread of life.

But Nehemiah's words are still true.

No matter what wrong we have done, God is still there to forgive us when we return with a repentant heart.

In John 6:22f, after the feeding of the five thousand, and walking on water, the Lord is still encountering many who didn't believe, even though they still followed Him.

But He continues to reach out to them.

22. The next day the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone.

23. There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

24. When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

The people could see by the evidence that Jesus was not with them, and that He had not gone with His disciples, and that He didn't take another boat.

But, ever so more importantly, had they discerned who Jesus really is, and what He had really done?

What about us today?

Can we see the signs of the Lord's presence, and also His works?

Note what happens when they once again find the Lord:

25. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You get here?"

26. Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled.

27. "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal."

They may have ridden across the lake in small boats, but they missed the important “boat.”

They were sailing a different course than was Jesus, and in His love, He is trying to help them see the errors of their ways.

Jesus is trying to get them to eat of the spiritual bread, and thus set their minds upon heavenly things.

For in a few short hours after eating of physical bread, we desire more, for we are in need of additional food.

Our spiritual bread never leaves us, as long as we care for it; and even though we desire more, the first bread is still as good as the new, and we continue to grow.

Note how the people answer Jesus:

28. They said therefore to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"

They are still confusing the physical signs as being the same as being in the presence of the Lord.

And in their pride, they want to do the same things as Jesus does.

They want to do, rather than receive.

Nevertheless, Jesus still loves them and continues to reach out.

29. Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

30. They said therefore to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?

It's as though these people are from another world, and not the same people who were with Him when He fed them with five loaves and two fish.

They're like the Israelites in the desert; they can't remember from one moment to the next what the Lord has done in their presence.

They have no spiritual connection.

They have not eaten of the spiritual bread.

I guess they were very much like most of the people in the world today.

But today, perhaps we see too much of the works of our own hands, and forget about God's controlling place in the middle of everything.

The people were so interested in the physical, that they couldn't see their spiritual bread standing right there before them; thus they continued to bypass Jesus.

They said,

31. "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.' "

32. Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.

33. "For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."

34. They said therefore to Him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread."

They still didn't see or understand the truth; but in His love, Jesus tells them plainly.

35. Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

And Jesus also says to us, "I am the bread of life."

Do we really accept that statement in our hearts and minds, or do we try to rationalize it, or try to find some hidden meaning in what He says?

There are no hidden meanings, nor anything to rationalize.

Either we believe, and accept what He says at face value, or we have nothing.

(At Communion Table)

Jesus said, "This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

Do you accept the fact that Jesus was God's personal gift for you, individually?

And Jesus, picking up the cup, said, "Drink of it all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins."

Do you accept this cup as the blood of His covenant to forgive your own sins?

Or are we looking for some other way?

What you see before you is physical, but it was called into being from heaven.

Can you accept that, or do you just see the grain that was made into bread, and the grapes that were squeezed into juice?

Jesus is more than bread and grape juice.

But if we can't accept Jesus here in our presence at this table, in a profoundly spiritual way, how can we ever hope to see into heaven, so that we may be with Him there?

Accept the bread from heaven, and never again hunger or thirst.

Prayer...

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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