Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jesus the Bread of Life Part 3 (Jn. 6:41-59)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 15 August 2010 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 6:41-59

When Jesus said He is the bread that comes from heaven, people began to question it. His father was Joseph and His mother was Mary, and His siblings were with them, so what could He mean by saying He was from heaven. The Jews thought He was deceiving the masses so they asked some soldiers to come and capture Him. The soldiers in the end did not capture Him as they said, “Nobody spoke like this man.”

Jesus was not talking about things of the earth, but things of heaven which would last to all eternity. His existence far transcended our lives. For listeners who were so narrow-minded, how could they understand what He meant? The Word of God transcends space, time, culture and eras. Human natural response is to criticise when they cannot understand the truth. So the religious leaders criticised Jesus for His teaching.

Jesus used words that are quite obscure and very hard for people to understand. He would have mercy on whom He will have mercy. He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion. This is His sovereignty. When you cannot understand the truth, it is not that He failed to convert you but because He has not enlightened you.

Moses led the Israelites for 40 years in the desert and they experienced the miracle of the manna during the period. On the day they entered the Promised Land the miracle of the manna stopped. But manna is a representation of a greater reality, not the reality itself. Jews thought they were superior to all the other races because their ancestors received manna from heaven. But Jesus said He was the bread of life and reminded the Jews that their ancestors ate manna and died.

Likewise Jesus told the Samaritan woman that her ancestors drank from Jacob’s well and thirst again, but those who drink from His living water will never thirst anymore.

Jesus now compared the manna to His own body. If you eat His flesh you will never die. What does it mean? He brought them out of the boundaries of their limited understanding, their focus on the material and visible, into the spiritual and invisible. Jesus wants to elevate our mind so that we can break through our limitedness. But we tend to focus on material things and despise things spiritual.

When they could not understand, Jesus said to them not to grumble as nobody came to Him unless the Father drew him. He wanted to bring them into eternal, uncorruptible realm. Most of us are very satisfied with the material world and uninterested in the spiritual. Because they knew Jesus in the flesh, they had distorted understanding of Him. When you go to the wrong seminary, it is very hard for you to unlearn the wrong thing than to learn the right thing. You become very stubborn because you think you already know.

Jesus taught that material food cannot bring eternal life. Thus man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out from the mouth of God. All other religions paint men as the seekers of the truth. But when Jesus said He is the Bread from heaven, it is profound statement that the Eternal One is the Initiator who came down to earth to give life to men. It is not men seeking after God.

Jesus said three times that He will raise up at the last day those who believe in Him. This means that is that life comes from Him. He is the True Manna from heaven. The manna in the Old Testament is temporal, it is a shadow of what is to come. The Old Testament prepares the way for the New Testament. The Word of God Himself (Christ) is the manifestation of what is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. You are to receive this Word become flesh to gain eternal life. Thus Christ said they are to eat His flesh. People think he is crazy.

Many people who do not know Jesus Christ judge Him by outward appearances. He did not have comely outward appearance. He was despised and rejected, and died crucified. But He never retaliated.

Jesus is the word of God. He is the Truth Himself. Other religions seek truth from their own perspective. The Bible shows that the truth is life itself. Truth is combined with the word. Truth linked to way and life.

Jesus also said to drink his blood (Jn. 6:54). This appears to contradict the Old Testament command which forbids drinking blood. In Acts 15:28 there was a command to abstain from blood for the Gentile believers. Why then did Jesus say to drink his blood? Deuteronomy said the life of all living creatures is in the blood. Moses was saying the mystery of life lies in the blood therefore we are commanded not to eat blood. Jesus says to drink His blood so that you can gain His life. Both imply that life is in the blood, so there is no contradiction between the Old Testament and Jesus' statement. We need to partake in Christ in order to have life.

It is a great invitation by the Son of God to drink His blood so that we can receive the life of God. Those who receive life from Christ are new creation. Without the shedding of blood sin cannot be forgiven. Jesus is God become flesh. As human being, He has flesh and blood. The life of Christ is in His blood. The precious blood of Christ contains the eternal life of God.


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