Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bread of Life

In chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, it is recorded that multitudes of people were following Yeshua because of the miracles that they saw Him perform.  One day, for example, five thousand people gathered around Him.  Yeshua approached Philip, one of the disciples, and tested him regarding their ability to feed the people. Philip, for his part, was only able to perceive the situation from his natural perspective, suggesting that not even two hundred denarii would suffice to give each one present just a small amount.  (Is there a lesson in this for today, that no amount of money will be able to feed the spiritually hungry people of this world?) Just then Andrew noticed a boy with five loaves of bread and two fishes. Yeshua turned to the disciples and told them to have the multitude sit down.    He took the fish and the bread, blessed them, broke off some and gave it to the disciples so that they would distribute the food to the people. When all had finished eating, they took up twelve baskets-full of leftovers.

This story sets the stage as to what Yeshua was going to reveal about Himself shortly.  After some of His followers wanted to take Him by force and make Him king right there and then. He departed from the scene while His disciples got into a boat and took off across the sea.  Amazingly, Yeshua arrived, somehow, on the other side and greeted them upon their arrival.   How he got there so fast astounded everyone.  The next day some of the same people were looking for Him to perform more miracles, but Yeshua discerned their true motive, and said: “"Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). Is this another warning sign for today’s followers of Yeshua?
Following the ‘feeding scene’, Yeshua was now ready to take his listeners further and reveal to them hidden truths regarding that miracle. And so He states: "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life…” (v. 27a).  Just as when He met the Samaritan woman at the well and told her about the eternally thirst quenching water that He gives (see John 4:14), so too now, Yeshua speaks of the bread that gives everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give… because Elohim the Father has set His seal on Him" (John 6:27).  Notice that He does not directly point to Himself right away, but leads them on to asking more questions. "What shall we do, that we may work the works of Elohim?" (v. 28), they respond.  The Messiah’s answer really sparks their curiosity:  "This is the work of Elohim that you believe in Him whom He sent" (v. 29).  One would think that their next question would have been, “Tell us whom has Elohim sent?”  But the trained Jewish mind does not necessarily commit itself so quickly. They figured that this man just might be referring to Himself and they were not about to acknowledge that fact. So they tested Him: “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?” (v. 30).  Apparently they did not recognize the multiplication of the bread as anything significant, and in a way they were actually belittling Yeshua, as seen in their further comment: "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He [Moses] gave them bread from heaven to eat’" (v. 31). 

 Yeshua is now going to counter their statement: “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of Elohim is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (vs. 32-33).   Later He will remind them that their fathers ate of that bread and died. 
The inquirers, like the Samaritan woman at the well, responded based upon their ‘natural’ understanding. Completely missing the point they reply:  "Lord, give us this bread always" (v. 34). Yeshua is now ready ‘to drop the bomb’ and let them in on the secret: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (v. 35).   This statement really got to them and they began to murmur and complain. Although Yeshua knew that they did not believe Him, He went on to press the issue, “…this bread is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world…  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh” (v. 51b,a).  This was more than they could take; enough is enough - “eating human flesh?!”   Everyone knew that this was an abomination before Elohim, and is totally repulsive to any Jew or even non-Jew.  Did Yeshua truly believe what He was saying? 

The Jews began to quarrel amongst themselves saying: “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” (v. 52).  Relentlessly Yeshua continues to ‘rub it in’: "Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (vs. 53-56)Wow!  This is beyond anything any man has ever said.  What blasphemy!  Even Yeshua’s disciples were offended by these statements.  However, Yeshua’s intent was to get their attention and at the same time separate the sheep from the goats, so to speak.  Can you imagine? These things He said in the synagogue in Capernaum!  It is amazing that they did not take Him to the water and drown or stone Him. 
The Messiah’s next statement to His offended disciples was going to be the key that unlocks the mystery of the bread of heaven:  "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?” (v. 62).   
Yeshua is now revealing to them that He was with the Father in the beginning, and is now manifesting His (the Father’s) presence (see John 14:8-9).  He then goes on to clarify His previous statement, referring to His “flesh and blood”: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). 

Many of the disciples left as they could not accept what Yeshua was about Himself. So it is today, many will fall from the faith for the same reason. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven -- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever" (vs. 57-58).  Is Yeshua asking us the same question that He posed before the twelve: “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67). May our response be as emphatic as Peter’s: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim" (vs. 68-69).

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