PENTECOST 10B GOSPEL ANALYSIS: ETERNAL LIFE
John 6:35, 41-51
The following Bible study is from a larger course entitled, THE LIFE OF CHRIST: A Study in the Four Gospels. This 54 week course for the laity will be available for congregations in 2006.
Basic text for the course: SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, Kurt Aland, English Edition, P. 139.
Focus of the sermon for today: Eternal Life.
In the lectionary for Series B, there are five consecutive gospel lessons from John 6. A pastor could preach five consecutive sermons based on John 6. All of these Sundays share a similar theme about Jesus, the Bread of Life, today and forever.
The sermon series from John 6 could be as follows:
Pentecost 8 Jesus, A Sign: Feeding of the Five Thousand
Pentecost 9 Jesus, Bread of Life
Pentecost 10 Jesus, Eternal Life
Pentecost 11 Jesus, Holy Communion/Eucharist
Pentecost 12 Jesus, Hard Sayings/Teachings of Jesus
Each of the above sermons has a distinct focus.
A sermon needs a distinct focus, a central theme. Even sermons from the Gospel of John need a distinct focus, even though the Gospel of John often has numerous ideas in one text.
Helmut Thielicke, in his book, The Trouble With The Church, talked about the “textual-thematic” sermon. Thielicke said that a sermon needs to be rooted in the text, but yet a preacher also needs to find a central theme that will carry the sermon. That central theme will often be a primary idea that people carry home with them. In other words, the central theme is like a handle on a piece of luggage that helps people carry the sermon home.
Other scholars have said that a sermon needs to have “the restraint of a single idea,” “the central kernel that saves the preacher and listener from getting lost in its details,” and “a primary thrust that can be expressed in one clear sentence.”
The problem with preaching on a text from the Gospel of John is that often, no singular idea in a given text. It is often difficult to preach on John 6 because there so many themes in that chapter. For example, on Pentecost 10, the gospel for today, there are several themes that could be a focus for preaching:
“I am the Bread of Life who lives forever,”
“No one comes to the Father unless drawn by him,”
“No one has seen the Father except the Son,”
“Whomever believes has eternal life,”
“Whoever eats of this bread will live forever,”
“The bread that I give is my flesh.”
There are so many different themes for Pentecost 10 that a sermon can easily lose its primary focus. Both the preacher and listener can get lost in the details of the text and a sermon.
I am suggesting five different sermons with five different controlling, central themes from John 6:
Pentecost 8 Signs
Pentecost 9 Bread of Life
Pentecost 10 Eternal Life
Pentecost 11 Holy Communion
Pentecost 12 Difficult Teachings
Also, we recall that eyewitnesses wrote both the gospels of Mark and John. Both gospels have a ring of personal historical recollections.
In the lectionary, Series B, during the Pentecost season, we are studying both of these authors. They both have juicy, historical tidbits of authenticity. In Series B, the Pentecost season, twenty gospel lessons are from the Gospel of Mark; five are from the Gospel of John. Both are eyewitnesses.
The gospels of Mark and John seem to offer us the best historical recreations of the life of Jesus. The Gospel of John offers us many precise details in his accounts of Jesus’ life (five porticos near the pool, a lad had five loaves and two fish, fifty-three fish being caught in a resurrection story, etc.). John’s precise details do not feel like an author who is cleverly trying to create a perception of journalistic authenticity. At the same time John offers us all these nice juicy details, he is also highly philosophical. He believes from the beginning of his gospel that Jesus is the Son of God, and colors all of Jesus’ activities with full-blown divinity.
A consequence of this is that the humanness of Jesus’ life is diminished in John’s gospel. By contrast, there is a earthy humanness to Mark’s gospel, and this earthy humanness is not in John’s gospel.
Perhaps the divinity of John’s gospel and the humanity of Mark’s gospel reflect the personalities of their different sources (John and Peter). It could also reflect Peter and John wrote many years after the life of Jesus—Peter, about thirty five years later and John, about sixty years later.
This discourse about the bread of life is connected with Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. The event of “walking on the water” is set between the feeding of the five thousand and the discourse on Jesus, the Bread of Life. It seems that the event about walking on water/calming the winds is not as important in the Gospel of John as the feeding of the five thousand. The feeding of the five thousand was called a sign; the event of “walking on water” was not. In the Gospel of John, Jesus delivers a long discourse about the Bread of Life. There is not a similar discourse following Jesus’ “walking on the water.”
We recall similar, lengthy, philosophical discourses by Jesus. These discourses are not like parables, nor like short pithy teachings, nor like narratives about his life (e.g. the Mary and Martha story), nor are they like the miracles in the first three gospels. These discourses are longer, philosophical speeches by Jesus about his self-identity and his relationship to God, the Father. These discourses are similar to each other in their theological complexity and sophistication.
Earlier in the Gospel of John, there have been three previous discourses e.g. with Nicodemus who needed to be born again, the woman at the well who needed to drink the living water, and the crippled man for thirty-eight years near the pool who needed to believe in the Son and be given eternal life. This is the fourth discourse in John’s gospel. It is as if we receive a fourth sign in the Gospel of John that is followed by a fourth philosophical discourse about the deeper significance of that sign.
This discourse occurred at the synagogue in Capernaum, according to John 6:59, the last verse in the chapter.
We recall the basic photograph which shows us the location of the village of Capernaum at the north end of the Sea of Galilee. Memorize the location of Capernaum in your mind.
We recall other photographs of Capernaum that we studied earlier in Lesson 6 of this course on THE LIFE OF CHRIST. We recall that the photograph below is a reconstruction of the synagogue at Capernaum. The location of the synagogue has not changed. This was THE location of the synagogue in Capernaum in Jesus’ day. The rocks in the flooring of this reconstructed synagogue are very old and from the time of Jesus. The reconstruction is a good representation of a synagogue from Jesus’ day.
We recall that other events occurred at this synagogue: Jesus was confronted by a demoniac while teaching here (Mark 1:21-27). Jesus healed the centurion's servant, the centurion who built the synagogue (Luke 7:3). In this synagogue, Jesus gave his sermon/teaching on the bread of life (John 6:35-59).
Sometimes, a Biblical scholar wonders if the synagogue that Jesus was thrown out of was not at Nazareth as the Gospel of Luke explicitly and uniquely tells us, but was the synagogue in his “own country” (Capernaum) as the Gospel of Mark tells us. The Gospel of John tells us that the teachings of John 6 occurred at the synagogue in Capernaum. John 6:59: “He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.”
Jesus made Capernaum his home during the years of his ministry: "Leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum" (Matt 4:13). Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen living in the village. Matthew the tax collector also dwelt here. Capernaum is one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith.
Capernaum was in existence from the second century BCE. to the seventh century CE. Capernaum was built along the edge of the Sea of Galilee and had up to 1500 residents.
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
We focused on this theme of “the bread of life” in last week’s sermon.
When we eat bread that is fresh and good, it is so invigorating. And so it is when we consume the bread of life, Jesus and God’s infinite love for all people in the world. This bread is so good, the best bread in the whole wide world. Infinite love for all people, for all kinds of people Infinite compassion. Infinite justice and peace.
The bread of life and energy of love needs to be living inside of all of us.
How we love to eat bread and consume it, especially when it is fresh and warm! How we love to consume Christ and his spirit of love into our lives! As we absorb the spirit of Jesus Christ and his love, justice and compassion, these qualities live more fully in us.
Jesus is the source of life, the source of eternal life, the source of the values of our daily lives, the pattern of love for our daily lives.
The basic food staple of the world is bread and Jesus is the basic spiritual staple of the world.
Jesus is never “just” bread. Jesus is always the bread OF LIFE. As we consume bread, it gives us nourishment and energy for our physical lives. As we consume Jesus into our lives, he is the nourishment and energy for our spiritual, emotional and moral lives. As Jesus is absorbed into the very fiber of our being, he gives us life, direction, love, and all the other good things that we need.
Underline the phrase, “I am the bread of life.” Here is the first of the great, I AM, sayings of Jesus. There are seven, I AM, (ego eimi) sayings in the Gospel of John e.g.
- “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
- “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5)
- “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7, 9)
- “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14)
- “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25, 26)
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
- “I am the true vine” (John 15:1,5)
These were all references to God the Father in the Old Testament and now Jesus teaches that these are references to himself as well.
Focus on the verb, “I am.” I AM, a “be” verb, was the name of God in the Old Testament and we translate that verb, Yahweh or Jehovah. We recall the story of the Lord speaking to Moses out of the burning bush at Mount Horeb and revealing the divine name to Moses. I AM which becomes translated “Yahweh.”
When Jesus gave the discourse to the woman at the well, he was the living water. In this text, he is the living bread.
As Christians, we are to consume Jesus into our hearts, minds and souls. As we do so, we shall not be spiritually hungry because our spiritual hunger will have been fed.
As Christians, we are to drink Christ into our hearts, minds and souls. As we do so, we shall not be spiritually thirsty because our spiritual thirst will have been quenched.
Focus on the phrase, “comes to me.” We are invited to come to Christ, again and again and again in our lives.
Focus on the phrase, “believes in me.” The phrase, “believes in me/him,” is one of the most important phrases in the Gospel of John. It occurs in John 3:16 for the first time in this gospel, and it occurs eleven more times in this gospel. This is what God wants to happen to our lives: that we believe in Christ.
We remember our magic word that defines the word, “believe:” TOKY. Trust, Obey, Know and say Yes.
Listen to that important phrase resonate throughout the whole Gospel of John:
John 3:15 "that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoeverbelieves in him should not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:18 "He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.
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."
John 6:40 "For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 7:38 "He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
John 11:26 "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
John 12:44 "And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me."
John 12:46 "I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness."
John 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father."
The most important event that can occur in our life is to believe in Jesus Christ, and come to him.
We remember our magic word that defines what it means to believe: TOKY. Trust, Obey, Know, Yes. These are the four components that help us define the word, “believe.”
We remember that the word, “believe,” occurs 245 times in the New Testament. The phrase, “born again,” occurs only three times. To be born again/born from above means to believe in Christ.
40 This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day." This verse is not in the text appointed for this coming Sunday, but I have included it because of its clear statement about eternal life: “This is the will of God: that we have eternal life.” It is the will and desire and destiny of God for you and me to live eternally with God. This is the divine plan.
It is not only the work of God to believe in Christ; it is also the will and destiny of God to raise us up to eternal life on the last day. The sweeping vision and plan of God is for humankind to believe in Jesus, His Son who is the perfect reflection of the heart and mind and will of God. It is also the sweeping vision and grand design of God for humankind to live forever with God.
The grand vision of God is to raise all who believe on the last day, the judgment day, the consummation of history.
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." As we have stated repeatedly in this course, it is “the Jews” who are the enemy of Jesus in the Gospel of John, more so than the Pharisees in the first three gospels. There are 59 references to “the Jews” in the Gospel of John and only 15 references to “the Jews” in the first three gospels.
In this text, “the Jews” complained about Jesus; in later texts, they will attempt to stone him.
Why? Because Jesus said that he was the “bread that came down from heaven.” “The Jews” thought that Jesus was saying that he was the manna that God provided in the wilderness, that Jesus was present in the wilderness more than a thousand years ago, that Jesus had a prior existence in a prior life. No wonder “the Jews” wanted to get rid of Jesus because for them, he was a warped-thinking religious lunatic.
Jesus was not saying that he was the bread of manna in the Old Testament. He was saying that he was the bread of life come down from heaven today. Later in this same chapter, Jesus will further say that he/the bread of life is superior to the bread of the Old Testament because people who ate of the manna in the wilderness died and those who eat the true bread (of the New Testament and New Covenant) will live forever.
The phrase, “bread comes down from heaven,” is repeated seven times in John 6. The phrase, “come down from heaven,” is almost always associated with bread.
Joh 6:33 - For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Joh 6:38 -for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
Joh 6:41 -Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven."
Joh 6:42 -They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven'?"
Joh 6:50 -This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
Joh 6:51 -I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
Joh 6:58 -This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
In other words, Jesus as the “bread who has come down from heaven” is a dominant concept in the Gospel of John.
42 They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven'?" These Jews knew both Jesus’ mother and father, which indicates that Joseph was not dead as sometimes Biblical students erroneously conclude.
If both the gospels of Mark and John are written/dictated/told by eyewitnesses, a reader of the gospels closely examines their words as being sources of historical truth…from the point of view of the story teller. Whether a person believes that witness is another matter.
In this instance, John is telling us that the Jews said that they knew the father and mother of Jesus, that the mother and father of Jesus were still alive.
If that is true, then “the Jews” questioned in their minds, “How could Jesus say that he “came down from heaven” as the manna in the Old Testament? How could Jesus be at both places in both centuries? How could Jesus be the son of Mary and Joseph and at the same time was the manna in the wilderness more than a thousand years ago?”
Yet Jesus did not say he was the manna in the wilderness more than a thousand years ago. He did say that he was “the bread from heaven” and that those who eat of this bread will never die but live forever.
In other words, the Jews were correctly noting that there was a real problem with Jesus implying that he existed as the manna in the wilderness more than a thousand years earlier. Only a religious nut would make such claims. But Jesus himself never made such claims here in John 6.
We will soon discover that not only “the Jews” had problems believing what they thought were Jesus’ assertions about himself but so were some of his disciples. Soon we will hear about some of the disciples of Jesus thinking that these were “hard sayings” or “difficult teachings” and they could not follow him any longer.
43 Jesus answered them, "Do not complain among yourselves. These Jews must have been discussing this matter among themselves. Jesus knew what they were talking about. As has been stated numerous times in this course, in the Gospel of John, Jesus is forever the Son of God, who knows all things…including what people were talking about or thinking in their minds.
44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; Why did these Jews not believe? Because they had not been drawn to Jesus by the Father. As a magnet draws metal, so certain people are drawn to Jesus. These Jews were not. There was nothing inside of Jesus that drew them to him.
In John’s gospel, we consistently hear Jesus teaching about “predestination.” That is, no one can come to Christ, see the truth about Christ or believe in Christ unless the Father draws that person to Christ. We heard that similar theme of predestination in John 1:12-13, that “those who become children of God were born not of blood nor of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God.”
The whole concept of “my salvation being dependent on God’s will and not my human will” is disconcerting for modern man and modern woman who often want their salvation dependent on their own will and not the will of God.
A few comments about predestination:
Predestination is clearly expressed in Romans 9:19-26, where the Apostle Paul uses an analogy about the potter and the clay. Analogies help to clarify our thinking. In this analogy, Paul says that the Lord God is like the potter and we are like the clay. The potter has all the right in the world to do what he/she wants to do with a clump of clay. The pot does not question the potter and what the potter is doing. The Apostle Paul then calls God the potter and we humans are the clay. God can do anything with us that God wants, for that is the power of God, the potter. If God wants to make us to be saved, that is God’s prerogative. If God wants to make us to be damned, that is also God’s prerogative. Everything is up to God, the potter. Paul goes on to say that this does not mean that God is capricious.
Ephesians 2:8-9 also expresses these thoughts about predestination: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God, not because of works lest any man should boast.” We have been saved through faith. Our salvation is a result of God’s action.
But in much American religion today, the emphasis is that faith is my acceptance, my decision, my action, so ultimately, my salvation is up to me and my choice. Faith is my choice to believe in God/Christ or not. Faith is my choice to accept God’s gift of love or not accept it. So in the last analysis, my faith is up to me.
By contrast, the Apostle Paul says that even our faith is a gift. Paul says that even our faith is not a result of our doing. We cannot subtly boast that we have faith. We cannot subtly brag that we have accepted the grace of God. Faith is not our doing. Faith is God’s doing. Even our faith is God’s doing.
Such attitudes run contrary to American religiosity which emphasize free will and my salvation is up to me accepting God’s gracious offer of forgiveness and eternal life.
Martin Luther expressed that the Holy Spirit creates faith in us. We find this in his explanation of the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed which states: “I believe that I cannot come to the Lord Jesus Christ by my own intelligence or power. But the Holy Spirit called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as He calls, gathers, enlightens and makes holy the whole Church on earth and keeps it safe with Jesus in the one, true faith.”
The Apostle Paul is expressing a point of view which is diametrically opposed to our culture of “free will.” The contemporary Christian culture of “free will” claims that my salvation is dependent upon my deciding, my believing, my obeying, my accepting. But Lutherans think differently than the culture of “free will.” From aLutheran perspective, ultimately, my salvation and whether I am saved is not up to me. My salvation is a pure gift from God.
The Apostles John and Paul say that our salvation is a pure gift to us, like rain, likesunshine, like birth itself. We receive the rain, sunshine and birth as pure gifts. The giving of the rain, sunshine and birth are not dependent upon my accepting, or my doing something to earn or deserve the rain, the sun, and birth.
All human beings know that one’sown birth is a pure gift. Similarly, it is true that one’s rebirth is also a pure gift from God, just like birth is.
The words, “free will,” are not found in the Scriptures. Look up the words, “free will,” in your concordance or computer and you will not find this phrase in the Scriptures. When the Bible does speak of the “will,” the Bible persistently speaks of God’s will and not human will. Numerous Scriptures speak of the will of God e.g. “I delight to do your will, o my God,” or “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” or “whoever does the will of my father is my brother and sister” or “my food is to do the will of God who sent me.” Overwhelmingly in the New Testament, when we hear about the “will,” we hear about the “will of God.”
When the human will is finally spoken of in the New Testament, we hear such words Romans 9:16, “For it (salvation) depends not on man’s will or exertion but on God’s mercy.” We hear similar words in John 1:12, “To all who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Human will does not do it in terms of our salvation. Human will does not cut it. Human will does not create faith in us or enable us to be children of God. Human will does not create birth, rebirth, or faith. Rather, it is God who creates birth, rebirth and faith in us. God wants us to be his children who are born not of human will but of the will of God.
In my life experience, I know that free will is very important to certain issues of my life e.g. the person I chose to marry, whether or not I eat properly and loose weight, whether or not I will eat less salt because of the doctor's orders. In these issues of sanctification and growing in holiness/wholeness, free will is veryimportant.
On the other hand, there are issues in my personal and professional life that are bigger than free will and free choice e.g. when love is reborn in a husband or wife after they have fallen out of love. When aspouse finally falls back in love with his/her husband, it is beyond willing, beyond resolving, beyond choosing. It is a miracle of the Spirit that happens in the human heart and love gradually becomes reborn.
So it is with faith in God/Christ. It isn't that I resolve to have deep trust in God and therefore I have deep trust. No, not at all. Rather, a miracle happens within my spirit that has been ignited by the Holy Spirit and I slowly begin to trust in the goodness of God for all eternity.
In theological language, we distinguish between justification (being declared righteous) and sanctification (growing in holiness.). Justification is God’s divine action; sanctification is our human response. Justification involves the mystery of God's Holy Spirit who creates faith within my heart. Sanctification involves the free will that God has given to us and we grow in holiness and we chose to do things which are pleasing to God.
Martin Luther states that God’s declaration of us being saved is purely God’s action. All the rest is based on free will.
When all this has been said, it also needs to be said that “predestination” is not the primary focus of this text. Jesus was saying that he had the authority to raise that person up to eternal life on the last day. No wonder the Jews were upset with him. Jesus was talking like a religious nut who imagined that he had grandiose powers to grant eternal life at the end of time.
45 It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Jesus is teaching that if a person lives and learns from God our Father, such people will come to Jesus as the source of life, the bread of life. That is what Jesus wants from each of us: to come to him, draw near to him, move towards him.
46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. We recall John 1:18 that “No one has ever seen God; the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father, has made him known.
Jesus is now really in the face of “the Jew.” That is, he was not only claming that he was the true bread that came down from heaven (and that the bread of the Old Testament wilderness was inadequate because those who ate of it died), and was also asserting that he would be present at the last day of judgment, he was further asserting that he had seen God. He had seen God and he called God Father. He had seen his heavenly Father.
In other words, Jesus was unlike any other human being that had/has ever lived.
As has been stated previously in this course on THE LIFE OF CHRIST, the purpose of many of the discourses and lengthy speeches in the Gospel of John is to state the complexity and grandeur of Jesus’ relationship with his Father.
47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. Once again, we hear of the classic and profound invitation to believe in Jesus Christ. To believe means TOKY, to “trust, obey, know, and say yes to Christ.”
Circle the words, “eternal life.” A primarily and overwhelming gift that Christ gives is the gift of eternal life. That is the gift that Jesus wants to give to you and me.
Circle the words, “eternal life.” The theme of “eternal life” can be the focus on this particular sermon.
The theme of “eternal life” is synonymous with the theme of “forever.” The underlying Greek words for “eternal life” and “forever” are the same. (zwhn aiwnion, aiwna)
The translation of the words, “eternal life,” occurs 42 times in the whole Bible and all those references are within the New Testament.
Within the New Testament, the words “eternal life” are used three times in the Gospel of Matthew, two times in the Gospel of Mark, three times in the Gospel of Luke, and sixteen times in the Gospel of John. In other words, the theme of “eternal life” is a central, primary theme of John’s gospel.
For the Gospel of John, “eternal life” begins now, at this moment in time. It is a quality of life with God that begins in this lifetime. “He who believes HAS eternal life.” Eternal life is not a quality of life that begins at the end of our physical lives here on earth but begins now on this side of the grave. Eternal life is know the only one and true God and Jesus. (John 17:3)
Briefly review the list of sixteen references to “eternal life” in John:
Joh 3:15 - that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Joh 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Joh 3:36 - Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath.
Joh 4:14 - but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."
Joh 4:36 - The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Joh 5:24 - Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Joh 5:39 - "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.
Joh 6:27 - Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."
Joh 6:40 -This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day."
Joh 6:47 - Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.
Joh 6:54 -Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;
Joh 6:68 - Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Joh 10:28 - I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
Joh 12:25 -Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternallife.
Joh 12:50 -And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me."
Joh 17:2 - since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
Joh 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
48 I am the bread of life. We focused on the theme of “bread of life” in last’s weeks sermon.
49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. The bread that the Jews received in the Old Testament was inadequate. Those people still died even when they ate that miraculous bread.
50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. The purpose of that bread of life, Jesus, that that we may eat of it and NOT DIE. We are to consume the presence of Jesus into our lives. His promise is that by doing so, we shall never die but live with God forever and ever.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Jesus is that living bread that has come down from heaven.
Focus on the words, “I am.” In the Old Testament, God’s name was “I AM.” “I AM” means Yahweh. The name “Yahweh” is a “be” verb.
Christ is the living bread. The manna in the Old Testament wilderness did not give eternal life. All other breads of life become stale and moldy. Christ is eternal bread for the Spirit and never gets stale, moldy or rotten.
Jesus Christ has come down from heaven. The question was ask in the previous text: “Where are you from?” “What are your origins, Jesus?” The answer? “God the Father.”
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; Repeatedly in this text, we hear Jesus’ promise that we shall live forever. This text feels like an Easter text. We hear this same refrain repeated a few verses later: John 6:58: “This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
The primary benefit of eating this bread is to live forever. This bread is the soul food for eternity.
The word, “forever,” occurs 352 times in the whole Bible; 302 times in the Old Testament and 52 times in the New Testament. It occurs seven times in the four gospels and five times in the Gospel of John. In other words, the word, “forever,” is important in this gospel.
The theme of “forever” is synonymous with the theme of “eternal life.” The underlying Greek words for “forever” and “eternal life” are the same.
Joh 6:51 - I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
Joh 6:58 -This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
Joh 8:35 -The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever.
Joh 12:34 -The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?"
Joh 14:16 -And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." “My flesh.” We will focus on this theme of Jesus’ flesh in the next sermon on Holy Communion.
When we eat the bread of Christ, we are taking the flesh of Christ into us. These words almost sound like cannibalism. In the early church, we hear secular words from Romans who were not Christians and those secular Romans spoke against the cannibalism of the first Christians.
We recall John 1:14, a key verse in the John’s prologue, which said, “The Word/Mind of God became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”
We hear John’s words from his later Epistle, I John 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God”: everyone who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.”
The word, “incarnation,” is a combination of two words, “in” and “flesh” or carnes” from which we get the word, “carnivorous.”
At the core of John’s thought is that Jesus Christ was the flesh of God here on this earth in human form.
Similarly, in Holy Communion, Jesus Christ is the flesh of God here on this earth in human form of the Bread of life in Holy Communion.
In previous studies, we know that the Gospel of John was partially written to counter the heresy of gnosticism and its depreciation and denial that God had come in the flesh of the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gnostics were into the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of his love, the spirit of his compassion rather than God being fully present in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth.
Back to Top