Study Notes 2-3-13

11:17-20 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. [18] Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, [19] and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. [20] So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

It was about a one-day journey from where Jesus was ministering across the Jordan River to Bethany near Jerusalem. If Jesus had heard the news, then waited two days, then taken a day to travel to Bethany, that means that by the time the messenger arrived at Jesus Lazarus would have already been dead.  This is important to note simply because we see by this timeline that Christ, knowing all that was going on here, did not kill Lazarus by not coming right away.  It isn’t as though His staying away had any affect on the situation materially.  I think that is significant because if nothing else, it shows us once again how Christ in His sovereignty and His obedience to the Father’s plan stayed and waited for a specific reason (which we discussed above) and not to put Lazarus through some struggle unnecessarily or sadistically.

The second thing I want to note here is that Martha is the one who comes running to Jesus when word reaches their home that the Lord is on His way, and is nearing the village.

The reason I think this is significant has to do with what we know from other scriptures about Martha.  Martha was the one who was “busy with much serving”, so busy that she didn’t have time to sit and learn at the feet of Christ.  I don’t want to read more into this than is there, but Martha strikes me as a woman of action.  She is always on the move always doing something, she’s a “type A” personality.  So perhaps its only natural for her to sprint out to see the Lord.

But I think we might safely infer from this passage that Martha’s priorities have shifted from ones that are “busy” and self-centered, to ones that are Christ-centered. The old Martha might have said “I need to stay here and be with my sister.” This Martha realizes the centrality of Christ.  This truth is revealed further in the next few verses…

11:21-22 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [22] But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

As we look at Martha’s response to the presence of our Lord it seems at first blush that she is placing a tremendous amount of faith in Him, and indeed her faith here is a beautiful thing.  She unashamedly states that, in her opinion, if Christ had been with Lazarus, he never would have died.  “Jesus” she reasons “would never have allowed my brother to die.”

She is neither scolding Christ for not being there though, but nor is she showing the kind of depth of faith that I first confess I saw.  I thought I saw an Abrahamic type of faith – a gigantic faith.  But that is not the case as we’ll see later on, for when Christ approaches the tomb and asks that the great stone blocking its entrance be removed, Martha protests that there would be a stench!

Why is this?  Well I think its because it probably never occurred to her that Christ could or would  raise someone from the dead…perhaps her mind never got that far.  It wasn’t that she was full of despair, as we see in verse 22, for she knew that one day her brother would rise in Christ.  But she didn’t yet comprehend the power of the man she knew as Jesus.  She didn’t yet understand that this man Jesus was not just the Messiah sent from God, He was the Author of life.  The Man standing before her was the one who’s words sent cosmos flying into existence.

Abraham’s faith was of another variety altogether.  Look at how the author of Hebrews describes the faith of Abraham:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, [18] of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” [19] He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

You see Abraham understood the nature of God and His will and His power. He was able to grasp the fact that since God controlled both life and death, that God could just as easily raise his son from the dead as he could bring him to life in the womb of a 100-year-old woman.

This is a more informed faith.  It isn’t that Martha’s faith is wrong, it is simply not matured, it simply hasn’t grown into a full-orbed understanding of the character and nature and power of who God in Christ is, and what He is capable of doing.

This, consequently, is why we study theology.  This is why we study the character of God. Because when we face the most extreme circumstances that this life can throw at us, we can do so with a full understanding that the one who walked on the earth and felt our pain and our suffering and our daily irritations is the same One who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, is the same one who rose from the grave, and is the same one who will one day defeat ALL death and sickness and famine to His own praise and glory.

11:23-24 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” [24] Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Is it not significant that Martha had a better understanding of the resurrection than the Sadducees?  Now it may seem odd to us, who do not have the full picture of the Jewish culture, that Martha would even know such a thing.  But it isn’t a strictly New Testament teaching.  In fact it was common knowledge that there would be a resurrection of the dead on the day of the Lord.  However, as I just mentioned and have mentioned before, the Sadducees were the most secular (if that’s an appropriate word for it) leaders the Jews ever had.  They didn’t believe in the afterlife or in the spiritual realm.

I like how MacArthur points out that Martha seems to have faith that Christ can and will raise her brother on the final day, but doesn’t seem to connect the possibility of Him having the power to raise her brother now. I think there’s something to this.  So often we mentally ascent to God’s power to do this or that, because we’ve read it in the Bible, but we don’t ever think to apply it appropriately to our lives, as if He is somehow neutered of His power 2000 years later.

But this is not the case. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His power is immutable, as are all His other qualities.

11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Here is another one of the great I AM saying of Christ (the 5th one, if you’re keeping track).  This time He says that He is the “resurrection and the life” – this means that Christ raises us from spiritual death to spiritual life!  What a fantastic claim!

This is really a continuation of the New Birth discussion He had before with Nicodemus in chapter 3.  When Christ says that He is the resurrection and the life, He isn’t saying anything new, He is reiterating that life, true life, comes from Him and Him alone.  He has been given all power by the Father to execute His life-saving mission here on earth (see chapter 5).

In this phrase Christ is claiming that, not only does He have the power to raise lost souls from the dead, but He has a plan for them after that – we were saved from something, but also for something.  Consider Ephesians 2:8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We were saved “for good works” – not simply from death, but for good works.

Truths We Must First Ascent To…

Is there a phrase that more encapsulates the mission of Christ than this? He is the resurrection and the life, and those who believe that will “never die.”  Could He have been any more blunt than this? YOU WILL NEVER DIE.  Let that reality sink in!

There is such power in this phrase and in this truth. But we need to acknowledge a few things first before this truth can be true there are other truths that we have to ascent to:

  1. That we are all dead spiritually
  2. That we cannot, on our own, raise ourselves from this death
  3. That we need and depend on the life-saving life-giving power of Christ to raise us from the dead and that He does this of His own initiative
  4. That Jesus Christ is the sole source of this power – He is claiming exclusivity here. He doesn’t say, “I am a resurrection” He says He is “the” resurrection!

What Everyone Must Wrestle With…

Lastly, look at what Christ says at the end of His great claim – He asks the question: Do you believe this?  This is the one question that every human being will eventually have to wrestle with. There is no one here that has not had to face up to this question.  We need to all ask ourselves at some critical point, “Do I believe this?”  If the answer is “yes” then you know that Christ is your resurrection and your life. What a wonderful feeling and a wonderful knowledge that is.

11:27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

This so much reminds me of Peter’s great confession when Christ put a similar question to Peter that He just asked Martha.  Here’s how the exchange went:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” [14] And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” [15] He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” [16] Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)

We are told that this is what saving faith looks like.  Paul says this in Romans 10:

…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. [11] For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” [12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. [13] For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

What is it that Martha is acknowledging here?  A few things…

  1. The Lordship of Jesus Christ – not only over the world and all created things, but over her life
  2. His deity – “you are the Son of God”
  3. That He is the one who can take away sins – He’s the savior of the world (“Christ”)
  4. That He is working out His sovereign plan in the world and in her life and she is surrendered to that plan – “who is coming into the world”

These are the words and component parts of a person whose heart has been miraculously changed by the Holy Sprit.

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Abiding in Christ: Its meaning, importance, and paradox

As Kate and I were talking this evening about some of the major concepts that our class has tackled over the past few months, the topic of abiding came to the forefront of our discussion, and she suggested that I post a separate sort of stand-alone article simply on this principle for easy access down the road.  Enjoy!

 Abiding in Christ

There are several places in the Gospel of John where the word “abiding” is used to describe a believer’s right actions in/on his Christian journey. I’ve posted a little about this when we studied 6:55-56 and most recently 8:31-32, and during our most recently lesson I mentioned John 14:21 where our Lord says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

There are 120 different times that this word is used throughout scripture. Perhaps the most familiar of all is found in John 15:1-11 where Christ delivers the last of his “I AM sayings” and tell us that it is our abiding in Him that gives us our live and vitality. Here’s what that passage says:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. [3] Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. [5] I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. [7] If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [8] By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. [9] As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. [10] If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. [11] These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Defining our Terms

Before we go much further, let’s ask what exactly this word “abide” means. The word “abide” is “meno” in the Greek and can mean to sojourn or tarry in a place, to be kept continually, to continue to be present, to endure, and when talking about it in relation to a state a condition of a person it can mean to “remain as one” and “not become different.”

To abide in Christ and have Him abide in us is normally meant that we are continually relying on Christ for our vitality.  The ESV Study notes say, “abide in me means to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience, and joy.”

Sinclair Ferguson says, “Abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections.”

The Paradox of Abiding

The more one studies abiding, and the kind of abiding Christians are called to do, the more one realizes (I think) that there are two sorts of abiding that occur in our walk with Christ.

The first kind of abiding is a synergistic work. That is to say, it is something we work with God in accomplishing. Abiding requires us reading the Word of God, and daily submitting our lives to His authority. It requires us being in prayer, and asking for God to work through our lives, and work on us – to conform us to the image of Christ. It’s a constant seeking of God’s face (1 Chron. 16:11). This idea is articulated in the Latin phrase “coram Deo” which R.C. Sproul defines in the following way: “This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.”

The second part of abiding, is the part that is monergistic, that is to say that it is God’s work and not ours. This kind of abiding is the kind that the Holy Spirit does in our lives after we are born again. Our abiding is done out of a motivation and love for Christ’s abiding in us and saving us.  His abiding in us causes us to want to abide in Him – to spend time in His word, to spend time in prayer. So in a sense we are always abiding in Him because He is in us. But in another sort of lower sense, there is a call here for us to “abide” in Christ – and that means seeking Him and resting in Him.

Because we are both “seeking” and “resting” at the same time, I call this “the paradox of abiding.” A paradox is defined as two things that seem on the surface to be naturally opposed or in contradiction to one another, but only through a closer look do we find that they are not opposed to each other, but are simply different ways of expressing a larger truth or relationship – in this case, our relationship with Christ and His work of sanctification within us. We rest in Him because we are secure in the promises He offers and we are secure in our salvation, but we seek Him and seek to abide in Him because we love Him and want to know Him more.

Here is how Jerry Bridges articulates this concept of abiding:

In John 15:4-5, Jesus made it clear that the divine source of life and power comes through abiding in him. How does one abide?

Most often we think of activities such as studying our Bible and praying as abiding in Christ…But these activities do not constitute abiding in Christ; rather, they belong in a subject we called communion with Christ. What then does it mean to abide in Christ? It is reliance on Him for His life and His power. By faith we renounce any confidence in our own wisdom, willpower, and moral strength and rely completely on him to supply the spiritual wisdom and power we need. This does not mean we sit back and just “turn it all over Him” to live His life through us; rather, we rely on him to enable us. So we can say that our salvation is by faith and our transformation is also by faith. But this does not mean that the object of our faith is the same in both cases…in salvation, we are passive except to believe. In transformation, we are active as we seek to pursue holiness in relying on the Holy Spirit to apply the power of Christ to our hearts and enable us to do his will.

And so abiding is both resting in Christ, and seeking the face of God in our daily walk. It is completely relying on the Lord for our every need, and staying in constant and continual touch with Him. It is diving into His Word, and leaning on the promises we find therein. It is faithfully walking the narrow path of a Christian soldier as we march toward our eternal home.

Study Notes 7-14-12

Below are the notes from yesterday’s lesson.  I’ve got a few extras in there that I didn’t have time to mention – including some notes I had found from Jonathan Edwards on the 35th verse.  Enjoy!

6:22-24 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. [23] Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. [24] So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

  • But the essence of what was going on here is that the next day, once everyone had been fed, and had gone home and slept (while the disciples were going through quite a trial on the Sea), they came looking to see what Jesus was up to, and what He might do and say today.  Again, their motives were not entirely pure…as MacArthur says, they were “thrill seekers.”

6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

  • Sproul aptly points out that when they said “when”, they really were meaning “how.”  For they had seen that Jesus had not gone out in a boat with the disciples, but rather had gone along by himself to pray (Mark 6:46).  However, Jesus doesn’t answer their question…

6:26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

  • This is a stern rebuke – once again Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God sees right into their hearts.  Earlier in chapter two, we read that, “…when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).
  • James Montgomery Boice points out that there is application here even for Christians.  He asks us to closely examine our own motives as Christians when we come to Christ in prayer. “In am convinced that in our day in American Christianity there is a lamentable tendency to focus on human need rather than on God himself.”  He goes on to explain what he means by that, “What is wrong (with just coming to Christ with our needs all the time) is that it is tragically possible to so focus on our needs that we are actually focusing on ourselves rather than on Jesus, and so never get to the solutions to our problems that Jesus wants to bring.”
  • Am I coming to Christ with my needs fully realizing that He has allowed them to come into my life in order to show me something?  Perhaps something of my own sin?  Perhaps He wants to show me my need for constant dependence on Him?  Perhaps He wants to show me how finite I am, and use this to teach me something about Himself.  Whatever the reason may be, we need to be remind ourselves that Jesus Christ wants us to come into His presence seeking His kingdom in prayer – not just in word and deed!
  • I am not, of course, saying that we ought not to lay our burden at the cross, or that we ought not to come to our heavenly Father with our needs.  But when that becomes the sole focus of our supplication, we reveal that our desires aren’t yet fully conformed to His.  For we should be constantly asking God “Lord, how can I glorify you today?  How can these needs of mine be used to show me more about your character?  How can my situation refine me and purge me of more of my sinful nature? Lord please use me to bring yourself glory.”
  • Boice concludes the thought this way, “May I say it even more strongly? I am convinced that one of the major steps to achieving good spiritual mental health is getting your mind off yourself entirely and on the Lord instead.”

6:27 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.”

  • The first part of this verse is a call for us to seek the Kingdom first and let God take care of the loaves and the fishes.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
  • The second part of the verse stresses where this imperishable food was going to come from: the Son of Man. By now, it would have been evident to these people that Jesus was referring to Himself when He said “Son of Man”, so there would have been no confusion (I don’t think at least) with His point here.
  • The last part of the verse says something about the Son of Man, namely that God the Father has set his seal upon Him.  Carson explains, “The idea is that God has certified the Son as his own agent, authorizing him as the one who alone can bestow this food.”

6:28-29 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” [29] Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

  • As Carson points out, these people misunderstood the point Christ was making in verse 27.  “His point was not that they should attempt some novel form of work, but that merely material notions of blessing are not worth pursuing.  They respond by focusing all attention on work.”
  • These men had been so set on getting their material desires fulfilled that they had “missed the greater blessing” (Boice).  It shows where their minds where when they immediately thought of a blessing from God as something they could earn somehow.
  • How true this is of today!  So many people want to believe that they can do something to earn a merit badge toward heaven.  We Americans are used to pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps, and we almost innately feel like there is something we need to add to God’s work.
  • Ryle remarks, “we should observe, for one thing, in these verses, the spiritual ignorance and unbelief of the natural man…doing, doing, doing, was their only idea of the way to heaven…there are no limits to man’s dullness, prejudice, and unbelief in spiritual matters.”
  • I also think the lesson here of a works-based gospel can give us Christians pause to check our viewpoints on the work of God.  Why?  Because we naturally want to add our own name to God’s work.  We want to find someway in which we can be involved.  We are indeed responsible for responding in faith, however, it is God who gives us the faith!  It is God who is working in your heart to allow you to respond to that offer of the gospel.  But somehow we want to claim our finite free will above the will of the most holy Sovereign!  As Christians we need to learn to give this up.
  • But let us not miss the divine point as we simply analyze the mistakes of men.  This sentence (Boice calls the “golden sentence”) is, in essence, the gospel.  Jesus Christ here tells us how a man can be saved.  How?  To “believe in him whom he (the Father) has sent.”
  • These people of Galilee, like many today, want to know how to be “doing the works of God” – they want to do good things and live a good life.  Christ gives them the answer this time, and in so doing, He says that the work of God is that they believe on the Son of God – the one whom He has sent.  The mission of the Son is intricately caught up in the divine essence of what it means to “do the works of God.”  In other words, there is but one thing that God wants us to focus our attention on firstly, and that is to believe in His Son.

As Ryle sums it up:

If any two things are put in strong contrast, in the New Testament, they are faith and words. Not working, but believing, – not of works, but through faith, – are the words familiar to all careful Bible-readers. Yet here the great Head of the Church declares that believing on Him is the highest and greatest of all “works!” It is “the work of God.”

Doubtless our Lord did not mean that there is anything meritorious in believing. Man’s faith, at the very best, is feeble and defective. Regarded as a “work”, it cannot stand the severity of God’s judgment, deserve pardon, or purchase heaven.  But our Lord did mean that faith in Himself, as the only Savior, is the first act of the soul which God requires at a sinner’s hands.  Till a man believes on Jesus, and rests on Jesus as a lost sinner, he is nothing. Our Lord did mean that faith in Himself is that act of the soul which specially pleases God.  When the Father sees a sinner casting aside his own righteousness, and simply trusting in His dear Son, He is well pleased. Without such faith it is impossible to please God. Our Lord did mean that faith in Himself is the root of all saving religion.

6:30-31 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? [31] Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

  • These people might have been looking for manna from the Messiah who would “duplicate” the miracle that Moses had wrought in their midst – for such was the teachings of the Jews (see Boice).  But we’ve already explored the motives of these people, and it was obviously outside of the mere religious desire to see a second Messiah come from heaven.  Their desires were for their bellies!

6:32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

  • First, He seems to correct them on their understanding of the Old Testament account of the story, for even though they said that “He gave them bread from heaven to eat”, it seems that they thought of “He” as Moses!  Jesus was eager to correct them in this misunderstanding.
  • Boice talks about the necessity of bread for life – especially in the days of Jesus. “Without bread, men died. If you see that, then you also see that Jesus was claiming to be the One whom men and women could not do without.”
  • Boice also points out that “everything before this (in the passage) has had to do with trusting Christ initially.  But when a person trusts Christ as Savior this is hardly the end.”  What he meant by this is that “bread should be eaten daily” as Christ should be “eaten” daily.  This isn’t a call for a daily Eucharist, but rather a call to satisfy our spiritual desires every day, just as we would our physical desires everyday.

6:33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

  • Jesus quickly makes the transition from the physical to the metaphysical, from the temporal to the eternal.  This is something He does ALL the time, it is one of the hallmarks of His teaching, and we see it throughout the gospels. First He will correct misunderstanding of the meaning of an Old Testament passage, then He will elevate their minds to the eternal from the shadow of the OT, then He will conclude by leading them to Himself – as we conclude by leading people to the cross when we are sharing about Christ.
  • Look carefully at the word “world” here and realize that – as Steve Lawson points out – there are at least 10 different uses for that word in the Gospel of John alone.  That means that we need to make sure the one that we have in mind actually fits the context of the text.  In this instance, I think it’s talking about every tribe, tongue, and nation.  Jew and Gentile, man and woman, servant and free man are all alike going to benefit from the Bread of God.
  • Lastly, when we look carefully at the Word of God, and see proclamations about the “world”, we need to more fully understand the significance of the work of Christ, and also the fact that Christianity is not secluded to one tribe or nation.  Christ came to save sinners from all over the globe.  An amazing thought.

6:34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

  • Not unlike the woman at the well, they want the bread (as she wanted the water) so that they would never have to worry about providing for themselves again!  Ryle even notes that, “there is a striking resemblance between the thought expressed in this verse, and the thought of the Samaritan woman, when she heard of the living water that Christ could give.”
  • The Galileans saw an eternal welfare state, as it were, and wanted Jesus to provide for them in this way “always.”  Of course they did. Ryle confirms my own feelings on the matter when he notes, “On the case of the Jews before us, the wish seems to have been nothing more than the ‘desire of the slothful,’ and to have gone no further. Wishing and admiring are not conversion.”

6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

  • This is the first of the seven “I AM” sayings of Christ (if we don’t include 6:20). And as I mentioned earlier, the underlying meaning or feeling conveyed by the language here is that Jesus Christ is God, Jehovah, the great I AM of the Old Testament wrapped in human flesh.
  • Of the several significant points that we need to look at, the first is that Jesus is connecting the “food that endures to eternal life” from verse 27 and that He is the manna that has come down from heaven from verse 33.  They are all one in the same “bread of life”, and they are all meant to point to Christ.
  • What is the result of eating this bread?  It is that one will never thirst or hunger again.  Is it not significant that the two miracles related to food in the New Testament Gospels are bread and wine?  Certainly there is a sort of shadow of the coming Eucharist.  Though I won’t assign too much importance or connection between the two by laying on Scripture something more than might be there.  But Jonathan Edwards also says there’s a connection here between the Showbread of the Old Testament and the privilege we have of eating at “the King’s Table” today.
  • What is clear is that Jesus is claiming to be that which satisfies the souls of man.  He is at the heart of what our hearts long for.  John Piper says this about verse 35, “what it means to believe in Jesus is to experience Him as the satisfaction of my soul’s thirst and my heart’s hunger. Faith is the experience of contentment in Jesus” (Battling Unbelief, Chp. 5).
  • I think the practicality of this passage lies in the fact that Jesus is the ultimate satisfaction for our lives.   When Augustine came onto the scene, one of the things he wanted to illuminate was the way to be truly happy.  As Sproul says, this wasn’t the happiness of the Epicureans or the Stoics.  This was something more substantial – it was finding true happiness in the knowledge of God.  This is what Jesus was saying to these men, I am the key to true satisfaction and happiness in this life and the next. Don’t seek after what the Epicureans give you (happiness for your belly), but that which satisfies the soul.
  • In the margins of his notes on this chapter, Jonathan Edwards scribbled something that I thought was really good.  He said that bread of heaven was “enough for all God’s people” – and he noted that there was a parallel with the feeding of the 5000 and the manna from Exodus that was more than enough for the people each day.  In fact Edwards said that one of the main applications for sinners was that “this bread will save you from eternal famine” and that, unlike the manna, “it doesn’t perish.”
  • The last thought that Edwards pointed out, also find a connection with the feeding of the 5000, and Ryle’s description of us as God’s ministers feeding His people with the Word of God.  Edwards says that we are “priests of Christ” doling out the holy Showbread of Christ (there is underlying sacrificial language/parallels there).  Edwards calls on sinners to not “loathe the heavenly manna and tread it under food.”
  • Yet so many do loathe Christ and scoff at the satisfaction He offers.  And as Christians, it is our unbelief that stops us from laying hold of the satisfaction Christ offers.  When we sin, we are basically saying that we find more satisfaction in our idolatry than in Christ.  We prefer our materialism (insert idol here) over Christ because we don’t believe the basic fact that Christ can be more satisfying than our sin.  This is the sin of unbelief.  We need to take Christ at His word and lay hold of that which is most satisfying – the Bread of Heaven.
  • If we truly believe Christ is what He said He is – the most satisfying thing we can lay hold of – how ought this to change our lives and spur us on?  What actions would you find yourself doing if you truly set your seal to what God the Father set His seal to?