Jesus Offers The Bread of Life for Pot-Luck Christians

 

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If you stop and think about it for a moment the term Pot-Luck is disturbing. You are not sure what you are receiving at the church feeding trough. There are people who seem to show up at the church only when a meal is offered. They are at the church picnic, the fall festival, the pig-roast, the Ladies Christmas tea, you never see them when free food is not offered. You see those people hanging around Jesus in John 6 even though a huge storm has occurred. “22 The next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the lake realized that only one boat had been there. They knew Jesus hadn’t gone with his disciples, but that the disciples had gone alone.”

The sermon on “the bread of life” is a dialogue between Christ and the people, the Jewish religious leaders

The Crowd is Seeking Earthly Relief (vv. 22–40).

Upon first glance, the disciples may have been impressed that so many people stayed through a storm to seek their Master, but Jesus was not impressed. Jesus knew their hearts. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.” He knew people followed Him for what they thought he could do for them, for the miracles, for the free food, not because they believed He could rescue their souls.

Sadly, they were not alone in this narrow view of the church. The early missionaries to India used to talk about “rice Christians”: people who would show up without fail, eagerly professing their love for Jesus — whenever rice was being distributed — but who never darkened the church door at any other time. Jesus in response challenges the crowd to seek the food that does not perish.

Two Different Kinds of Food
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”

Jesus pointed out that there are two kinds of food: food for the body, which is needed to live on this earth and that is important but not the most important. The one thing that is needed is food for the soul, which is essential. This Soul Food offered by Jesus gives eternal life. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” Isa. 55:2

Theological Clarification

Just to make sure you don’t think Jesus is proposing works righteousness when He tells the people “don’t work for the food that perishes.” Read the verse in its entirety, “27 Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Human One will give you. God the Father has confirmed him as his agent to give life.”

The people steeped in legalism deeply believe salvation was something to be earned, something their good deeds merited, but Jesus flips that switch and says, salvation is freely given. The only work you have to do is believe and even this work is a work of grace.

Live a Life that Matters.

What Jesus offered the crowd was a life that had meaning, a life dedicated to sharing the message of hope to an unconnected and disengaged world. Many in the crowd fit that description, Jesus referred to them as sheep without a shepherd. They came seeking meaning in their lives, and found bread, and were distracted by the Rabbi who met their physical needs. Jesus presented a real and tangential threat. His enemies believed by nailing Jesus to a cross they would end his little movement. Instead, they only unleashed unstoppable power on Calvary’s hill. Jesus would make an improbable comeback on the third day, and news of his victory will spread like wildfire into every nook and cranny of the world. The bread of life will not perish.

What Jesus offered the crowd was a life that had meaning, a life dedicated to sharing the message of hope to an unconnected and disengaged world. Many in the crowd fit that description, Jesus referred to them as sheep without a shepherd. They came seeking meaning in their lives and found bread and were distracted by the Rabbi who met their physical needs Jesus presented a real and tangential threat. His enemies believed by nailing Jesus to a cross they will end his little movement. Instead, they only unleashed unstoppable power there on Calvary’s hill. Jesus would make an improbable comeback on the third day, and news of his victory will spread like wildfire into every nook and cranny of the world. The bread of life will not perish.

Joseph Stalin thought he could brush Christianity off, deriding it as an idea whose time had come and gone. When his advisors urged him to maintain good relations with the Vatican, the absolute ruler of all Russia asked in derision, “How many divisions has the pope?” When Pope Pius XII heard of this, he issued his own curt response to Stalin: “You can tell my son Joseph he will meet my divisions in heaven!”[1]

It was the 16th-century reformer Theodore Beza who once remarked of the church that it is “an anvil that has worn out many a hammer.”[2]

    “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”

[1] “Religion: Urbi et Orbi,” Time, December 14, 1953.

[2]David Smith, The Covenanter: Devoted to the Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Volume 13 (1858), 257.

 

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