18 April, 2024

Dec. 31 Lesson | I Am the Bread of Life

by | 25 December, 2023 | 0 comments

Unit: Gospel of John (Part 1) 
Theme: Light and Life 
Lesson Text: John 6:25-40 
Supplemental Texts: Matthew 4:3-4; Matthew 16:5-12; Matthew 26:26; John 4:31-38 
Aim: Praise God who sent Jesus from Heaven to give us life. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Doug Redford): LOOKOUT_Dec31_2023.

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By Mark Scott

The world contains all kinds of bread. In addition to white bread, there are also whole wheat, rye, sourdough, multigrain, pumpernickel, and what seemingly grows everywhere in the world—zucchini bread. And that only scratches the surface. Bread is a staple of life. Some people will make a New Year’s resolution to cut down on bread, but there are such things as good carbohydrates found in many types of bread.  

Jesus told the devil that man does not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:3-4). Jesus cautioned his disciples to beware of the bread (yeast) of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:5-12). At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and blessed it (Matthew 26:26). And in John 6, Jesus used bread as a metaphor for salvation.  

According to John’s account, two miracles provide the background for this lesson text. Jesus multiplied five barley loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 men (John 6:1-14). (We can only speculate as to the total number of people who were fed.) Jesus then walked on the Sea of Galilee (called a “lake” in verses 16 and 17) to get back to the western side and eventually to Capernaum, where he preached a sermon on the bread of life. 

The Motives of the People 
John 6:25-27 

The miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish was stunning. Jesus had to command his disciples to go across the Sea of Galilee to the western side as he dismissed the crowd. The crowd did not want to leave Jesus. In fact, they wanted to take him by force and make him a king (John 6:15). But Jesus withdrew from them and went to a mountain to pray (Matthew 14:23). The next morning, when the people did not see Jesus (since he had walked on the water during the night), they got into boats and journeyed across the waters to Capernaum “in search of Jesus” (v. 24). 

But the people came to Jesus with impure motives. They wanted to know when Jesus had arrived. But Jesus read their hearts. He told them they really did not want him. They just wanted another meal (since the fish and bread dinner in the wilderness the night before was so good). They sought signs, or miracles, but they were oblivious to the greater spiritual realities to which these signs pointed. They wanted physical food more than forgiveness of sins. Jesus taught them to work for the food that endures to eternal life. That can come only from the Son of Man. God authenticated him by placing his seal of approval on him.  

The Work of God 
John 6:28-33 

The word work caught the crowd’s attention. The rhythm of work and rest was a sacred thing to Israel. So, the question naturally came, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered that the work of God (i.e., the plan of God or goal of God) was to “believe in the one he has sent.” This response again fits the appeal of John’s Gospel (John 20:30-31).  

Impure motives were evident in the crowd’s next question, “Can you show us a sign to undergird our belief?” They wanted what Moses (really God) provided in the wilderness . . . manna. Their response amounted to, “Let’s see another miracle.” Jesus is the Servant of Yahweh; he is not a genie in a bottle to satisfy the wishes of unregenerate people. The true bread (beyond the physical) comes from heaven (God) and gives life to the world.  

The Bread of Life 
John 6:34-40 

Whether the crowd was sincere in its request for bread from heaven is anyone’s guess (v. 34). But Jesus received their request and used it to introduce one of his most famous discourses—“the Sermon on the Bread of Life.” He elevated the people’s concern for bread in a manner that brings to mind the question from Isaiah 55:2, “Why spend money on what is not bread?”  

Verse 35 contains Jesus’ first clear and official “I am” claim. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” People who come to Christ and believe in him will have no spiritual hunger. They will have the promise of security (“I will never drive [them] away” and “I shall lose none”), the promise of resurrection (“I will raise them up at the last day”—mentioned twice), and the gift of eternal life. People who choose not to come to Christ or believe in him have no promise of security, resurrection, or eternal life. Of all the types of bread in the world, only one truly satisfies, and it is Jesus. 

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