[Lesson 71: Two Important Parables] [Table of Contents] [Lesson 73: Jesus Causes Division]

Lesson 72

The Bread of Life

Mark 6; John 6

Peace be with you, listening friends. We greet you in the name of God, the Lord of peace, who wants everyone to understand and submit to the way of righteousness that He has established, and have true peace with Him forever. We are happy to be able to return today to present your program The Way of Righteousness.

In our last lesson, we saw the Lord Jesus speaking to the crowds. He presented His teaching in parables which were loaded with eternal truth. However, most of the crowd did not grasp the meaning of the parables because their hearts were hardened. They did not appreciate the things of heaven, but only the things of earth. Most did not follow Jesus because He was the Savior of sinners; they accompanied Him only because of the physical benefits they received from Him.

Today we will listen to more words spoken by the Lord Jesus. We will also see how He confirmed His words by performing a miraculous sign. Our lesson today is called "The Bread of Life." {Lit. in Wolof: The Food which gives Eternal Life}

Now let us continue in the holy book, the Gospel of Mark, chapter six. The Scripture says:

(Mark 6) 30The apostles gathered round Jesus… 31Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 32So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. 36Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." 37But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?" 38"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five - and two fish." 39Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

41Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42They all ate and were satisfied, 43and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. 45Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. 47When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 51Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. 53When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.

(John 6) 22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone… 24Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went…in search of Jesus. 25When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" 26Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

Let us pause here. Why did Jesus say to the crowd, "Do not work for food that spoils"? Does that mean we should not work in order to have something to eat? No, it does not mean that, because the Word of God also says: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." (2 Thes. 3:10) Why then did Jesus say, "Do not work for food that spoils"? What Jesus was saying was this: If you work only for your stomach, and merely seek after the things of the world, you will end up losing everything, because your body is going to die and return to dust. However, there is something in your body that will never perish. It is your soul. The soul of man will exist forever-either in the glorious place called Heaven (Paradise) or in the horrifying place called Hell. That is why Jesus said, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life!" That was how Jesus warned the crowd, so that they might not merely seek perishable food, but that they might seek the Word of God which never passes away. Because "man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4) That is what the Lord Jesus said.

Sadly, most of those who surrounded Jesus did not care about the Word of God, nor did they believe in the One whom God had sent! Filling their stomachs with food was more important to them than filling their hearts with the truth that could save them from God's judgment. That is why Jesus said to them, (John 6) 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" 29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Did you hear Jesus' answer? How can a child of Adam, who is conceived in sin, please God? Can we work and accomplish deeds that please God? Can we somehow save ourselves from the power of Satan and sin and hell? Can we produce the perfect and pure heart that God requires? Never! "Even if a log soaks a long time in water it will never become a crocodile." {Wolof proverb} How then can a descendant of Adam please God? What did the Lord Jesus say about this? He said, "The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent." No person can ever begin to please God until he (or she) believes in the holy Redeemer whom God has sent.

Sadly, most of the crowd did not believe that Jesus was the Savior, whom God had sent. That is why they said to Him,

(John 6) 30"What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." 35Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty!"

With those words Jesus was saying: As God sent food down from heaven to feed the children of Israel for forty years so that they would not die in the wilderness, so God has sent to all the children of Adam "Food" which gives eternal life so that we might not perish in our sin!

Where is this "Food"? Is there a food on earth which if you eat of it you can live in the presence of God forever? No, there is not! What is this "Food" which gives eternal life? What did the Lord Jesus say? He said,

(John 6) 35I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that [God] the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away… 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

41At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." 42They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"

43"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered.… 45Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…."

60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.)…

66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

Thus, many disciples turned away, no longer accompanying Jesus because of His difficult teachings. However, among those who followed Jesus were some who would not leave Him, because they were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Holy One from God--the Bread of Life--the "True Food" which gives eternal life!

Yes, that is the way it is. Once you know who Jesus really is and what He is like and what He has done for you--you will never be satisfied with another master! Jesus is the only Source of eternal life. He alone can satisfy the heart that hungers for assurance of salvation and a close relationship with God.

How about you? Do you hunger and thirst for eternal life? Do you long to have confidence before God here on earth and in the life to come? Then consider this great invitation from the Lord Jesus Christ who says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.…I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty!" (Matt. 11:28; John 6:35) Amen.

Friends, thank you for listening. Next time, God willing, we will continue in the Gospel and hear how the crowd was divided because of Jesus.…

God bless you as you remember these words of the Lord Jesus:

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty!" (John 6:35)