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Feb 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 17, 2019 – Luke 22:14-20 and John 5:35-3-63


True Food and True Drink

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” John 6:5-9

Intro: This is the only miracle Jesus performed that is reported in all four gospels

In Matthew, Mark, and John this miracle is immediately followed by another–when Jesus walked on water
– Mark adds an intriguing footnote to that event regarding the disciples:

And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened (Mk. 6:51-52)

• he indicates that something was revealed in the miracle of the loaves and fish
◦ but the disciples missed it, and that was because their hearts were hardened
• in other words, their minds were set in mode of thinking
◦ and that meant the miracle could not penetrate their hearts
– this inability to understand is exactly what John addresses in his gospel
• therefore, the miracle of the loaves becomes an opportunity
◦ Jesus uses it for an extended session of interactive teaching
◦ as Jesus taught, the crowd became increasingly frustrated, until

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (v. 66)

John adds another feature to the story–Jesus “tested” Philip
– after a quick calculation, Philip decided providing food for everyone could not be done
• they did not have the resources
– but Jesus not only tested Philip, he went on to test the crowd
• the whole chapter is one test after another
• Jesus used impossibilities to stretch them into faith

The first indication of a serious problem

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself (v. 15)

The crowd could not see Jesus for who he was
– they saw him, instead, for what they wanted him to be (bread delivery)
• he withdrew – they could not have him that way
• the next day they chased him down
◦ perplexed – they wondered how he got to Capernaum without a boat (vv. 22-24)

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (v. 25)

– Jesus did no give a direct answer
• instead of telling them when he got there, he told them why they came

Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves (v. 26)

◦ what did he mean? At first they followed him because they had seen the signs! (v. 2)
◦ but that wasn’t why they came this time
(if they had come because of signs, they would have been there for him. Remember? The signs point to Jesus!)
• what they god from the sign was a free lunch
◦ that was the kind of king the wanted
◦ a king who promised them “a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage”

Jesus tried to turn them in a different direction

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal (v. 27)

Jesus told them there were two types of food
– now we can hear echoes from chapter 4
(Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman)

  • Jesus offered her living water
    – he offers the crowd living bread (v. 51)
  • Jesus promised her that drinking from his water, a person would never thirst
    – he tells the crowd that that eating his bread, a person would never hunger (v. 35)
  • the Samaritan woman said, Sir, give me this water . . .
    – the crowd said, Sir, give us this bread . . . (v. 34)

– they wanted to know what sort of work did God want
• he’s already given them a clue when he said, For on him God the Father has set his seal
◦ now he tells them more explicitly

“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent (v. 29 & cf. Jn. 17:3)

• at this point it’s obvious they have not made any progress
◦ they asked for a reason to believe him; namely, another sign
◦ and they hinted at a specific sort of sign (vv. 30-31)
(they wanted more of the kind of food he just told them not to work for)

What have we learned so far?

They wanted something from Jesus and Jesus wanted something from them
– in fact, he wanted more than they were prepared to give
• he wanted them to recognize who he was and put their faith in him
◦ he offered them eternal life and they asked for more bread
◦ the signs were there to inspire faith
• they wanted to take the gifts from his hand, but not take his hand
◦ with them, the signs malfunctioned
◦ that is because they were consumers of only the material benefits
– Some of you may remember the 1990’s band, “Ace of Base”
• in a different context they sang:

I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
Life is demanding without understanding
I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign

• but we can see the sign without it opening up our eyes
◦ without coming to a clearer vision of God
◦ without coming to faith in Jesus

But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe (v. 36)

This is what happened all the way through Jesus’ ministry
– even his own disciples kept missing the point
• John wants to solve that problem
◦ he is opening a new horizon
• but it will not do us any good, unless
◦ we realize see that we are those people in the crowd
– they wanted to know what they would get for their belief
• what food would he give them?
• so now he tells them, he will give them himself to eat v. 35
◦ and that’s when they begin to back away

Now we come to the most difficult passage in this chapter

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. . . . Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true fooed, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him (vv. 51-56)

Mark told us the disciples did not understand about the loaves (or the leaven, Mk. 8:14-18)
– what did they not understand?
• John give us his spiritual insight into this mystery:
◦ to walk with Jesus, we have to trust him
◦ and to have the life of Jesus, we have to consume him

John spends more time in the upper room than Synoptic gospels
– the Synoptics tell the whole upper room event in a few paragraphs
• they report the Lord’s Supper in one brief paragraph
• but in John we spend five chapters in the upper room
– but strangely, John does not mention the Lord’s Supper
• he doesn’t repeat the new covenant formula, this is my body and this is my blood
• instead, he gives us on the true food and the true drink

John is all about the true experience of God

the true light (1:9)
true worshipers (4:23)
true bread (6:32)
true food and true drink (6:55)
the true vine (15:1)
the true God 17:23 (knowing him is eternal life)

– the problem is we have a different definition of true:
• what is real to our senses
• what we can rationally comprehend
– what Jesus means by true, belongs to a different order of reality
• and the difference in what he means and we mean,
• sometimes makes it impossible for us to understand him
When many of his disciples heard it, they said,

This is a hard saying; who can listen to it? (v. 60)

◦ it’s “hard” for the rational, logical, mathematical mind

There are indicators that we’re hearing Jesus with the wrong mind

For example,

The [followers of the Jewish religious leaders]disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52)
We’re in the wrong mind when:
• we start asking “How” questions (cf. Jn. 3:4, 9)
• we ask rational questions about the literal meaning of this kind of teaching

• Jesus explains the source of all of the misunderstandings

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I speak to you are spirit and life (v. 63)

• this is the Rosetta stone for interpreting Jesus’ teaching
– the “flesh” is our programmed thinking, our quickness to judge
• our prejudice, our logic, our materialistic mind-set
◦ the flesh is our dependence on figuring things out for ourselves
• how can we understand Jesus?
◦ the answer is in his statement, it is the Spirit who gives life
◦ the meaning is given by the Spirit through life

Conclusion: The images Jesus uses sound concrete

The rational mind wants to take them literally
– or else accurately interpret their metaphorical meaning
• but the truth cannot come through gate of rational mind
• what Jesus and the Spirit communicates to us must be experienced
◦ absorbed into the inner person, like food and drink
– there are regions the rational mind cannot explore
• I’m convinced Jesus made it difficult intentionally
◦ to frustrate our attempts to solve his puzzles
• so we’d give up and just go with the Spirit
◦ we may think about food a lot–all the time!
◦ but it doesn’t take a lot of thought to actually eat and drink

I want to point out that twice in the previous two chapters Jesus said,

But the hour is coming and is now here (Jn. 4:23; 5:25)

This is what we tend to miss–the now and the here 

You how sometimes you close your eyes,
like when you want to better enjoy
your favorite painting,
the fragrance of a gardenia,
the taste of a delicious morsel?
When we listen for the Spirit,
it is not our eyes we must close,
but all the buzzing in our busy brains–
anxious thoughts, resentments,
complaints, and empty desires.
We have to shut off our automatic thinking
so we can catch a glimpse and have a taste
of what awaits us our new horizon.

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