The Living Bread
Preached on Sunday Morning, August 6, 1933
Chelsea Presbyterian Church, Atlantic City, NJ
if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever"
Every miracle Jesus performed he did to demonstrate some great thesis of his, and to prove that he had been sent from the Father. Upon a green hillside one day he took five cakes of bread and two fishes and multiplied them to feed a vast multitude of more than five thousand. Truly, it was a miracle Of Creation. The one lesson of the miracle was clearly inherent in it as he gave them physical bread, so also he gave them spiritual bread, but the materially-minded Jews missed it. Not until the next day while teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum did Jesus state and emphasize the lesson of yesterday. "I am the Bread." Unquestionably, he is, for he calls himself "the True Bread," "the Bread of God," "the Bread of Life," and finally, "the Living Bread." "I am the living bread which is come down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever." In this text Jesus answers three vital questions.
I. Who is the Living Bread?
The text says, "I am." Jesus Christ is speaking. There can be no mistake. As he stands there before the people, he is making this unique claim for himself. And as we examine our text and its immediate setting we discover that some most bewildering things are told us by Christ concerning this Bread.
The first truth presenting itself is that the bread "is come down from heaven." This expression, found five times, runs through this passage like a striking refrain. Christ is, in other words, the preexistent bread! His existence was with the Father in glory before he entered human flesh, and his going forth was from of old, from all eternity. Come down from heaven, he is now the incarnate bread. To grasp the full force of the miracle of the incarnation as presented here, we need only follow the narrative. When the people found Jesus in Capernaum, their query was, "Whence comest thou hither? How did you get here from across the lake where you were yesterday?" Jesus does not answer them, but looking into their hearts he reads their motive for following him and he states, "Ye seek me not because ye saw the miracle, but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled, because you want to partake of another free dinner, and to have a privileged place in a material kingdom. "Oh," he continues, "labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him hath God, the Father sealed." "What is the work of God?" the people ask. Jesus' answer is specific, "Believe on him whom he hath sent." "Very well," they say, "if you are going to make such claims for yourself, you must give us some proof, a sign. Our father, Moses, called down bread from heaven as a proof that Jehovah was our God and he His prophet, but you have only given us bread of barley, and fishes." Then Jesus replied, "Moses gave you not that true bread from heaven. The bread he gave you came from heaven, but it spoiled; my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world." "Evermore give us this bread," the multitude cried. And Jesus said, "I am that bread which is come down from heaven. I am the sign you ask for. I am the miracle of God!"
Out of the ivory palaces
Into a world of woe
Only His great undying love
Could make my Saviour go.
In verse thirty-eight of this discourse we are told a second thing about the Living Bread. "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Christ is the willing bread. When in the agony of Gethsemane, facing the cup of the cross, Christ exclaimed, "Not my will, but thy will be done." The preeminent thing in Christ's life, as it should be in the life of every Christian and every church, was the will of God. Remember, when Christ had been talking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's old well through the hot hours of the day, his disciples came and asked him of his need of food, and he returned. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work." To finish his work! The last three words uttered upon the cross were, "It is finished." What is finished? The work of God. God's plan of salvation was complete. The Just had died for the unjust. 'The penalty of sin had been paid. Man had sinned: he could not save himself. Jesus Christ came and died as man's substitute for sin. It was the will of God that Christ should die for sin.
A third truth concerning the Living Bread stands before us in verse forty-six of this passage. "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father." The emphasis is upon the words, "of God." Christ is not just like God, similar to God, but is of God. He is God! -I and the Father are one," he testified. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," he assured Philip. Truly, the living God could in the highest possible sense be the Living Bread. The deity of our Lord Jesus Christ is presented by him as an indisputable proof that he is living bread.
The living bread is Jesus Christ who came down from heaven, who came to do the will of the Father. and who is God. This is the perfect piece of bread without flaw or grit which, if a man will eat thereof, he shall live forever.
II. How May We Obtain the Living Bread?
The text says, "If any man eat of this bread." The simple figure is being carried throughout the discourse. How do we make food ours? We eat it. How do we make Christ ours? We do the equivalent to eating-we accept him and make him our whole spiritual life. Throughout this discourse, he sets forth in three different ways how we may obtain Christ.
"He that believeth on me hath everlasting life," Jesus asserts in verse forty-seven. Belief in Jesus Christ is the way in which we may have the Living Bread. The belief that he is a historical personage, or even the world's greatest teacher, is not what he is speaking of; but a belief that he alone is the only person who can save you from your sin. The belief which Christ demands may be illustrated by this historic incident.
In 1853 there came to America from France a man named Blonden. He was one of the world's greatest daredevils. It was announced that he would stretch a steel cable over Niagara Falls and walk across. On the appointed day the banks of Niagara's chasm were lined with people as far as eye could see. A thin cable was stretched across the falls just at the most treacherous point where the mists rose the highest, and the roar was the loudest. Every eye was upon Blonden as he took his balancing pole and step by step made his way over the falls. He turned around and started back the second time, and every breath was held, as he came pushing a wheelbarrow step by step over the falls. And to the astonishment of all he started back the third time with his wheelbarrow, and in that wheelbarrow he had a man. Step by step he made his way across. Hundreds of feet below the falls, three men were watching in a rowboat. One of the men turned to the other two and asked, "Men, do you believe in Blonden?" "Surely," they replied. "Men, do you believe in Blonden ?- the question came again. - "Certainly, look at him," they answered. Still the third time, "Men, do you believe in Blonden?" Becoming indignant they replied, "What do you mean? There he goes!" The questioner then answered, "If you believe in Blonden, go get in his wheelbarrow." That is just the point. If you will believe in Jesus Christ, go. get in his wheelbarrow. Trust him completely, and he will take you over the falls of life and death.
"He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out," Jesus says in verse thirty-seven; and in verse thirty-five he states, "He that cometh to me shall never hunger." Or in other words, Jesus says we may have the Living Bread if we will merely come to him. Coming is sufficient, for we are coming to the right person, and will not be disappointed. When a woman wants a permanent wave, she goes neither to the bakery shop, nor to the lumber yard, but to a hairdresser, for there she thinks she can get what she desires. When a boy has broken his arm, his father rushes him, not to the grocery store, but to the doctor, for there his needs may be met. So it is with Jesus Christ, when a man realizes that he is lost in sin, and without God and without hope in the world, if he merely so much as comes to Jesus, he will find forgiveness and eternal life. "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."
In the third place Christ says we have this Living Bread by uniting ourselves with him. "Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life," says verse fifty-four. While verse fifty-six adds, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." All that we are as physical men, we are because of the food which we have eaten. All that we shall ever be as spiritual men, we shall be because of Jesus Christ. The Jews wondered, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" They failed to appreciate the beautiful figure which Jesus was employing throughout. To be carnally minded is death. Jesus made it perfectly plain that he was using a figure to convey his thought, for notice, he says, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life," and "Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." Belief is equal to eternal life: eating and drinking Christ is equal to eternal life. Thus "eating and drinking" expresses the same thing as 'belief." The Jews failed to see the simplest laws of logic. Christ answered them by emphasizing his figure. He is our spiritual life. So, Paul says, "It is no longer I that liveth, but Christ that liveth in me.
A florist has the power to change the color of a flower. A beautiful white lily may be turned to a muddy black or to a crimson red. All that need be done is to cut the stem of the flower and place it in a vase of water-let us say, red water. As the water is drawn up into the flower, the color goes too. Up and up into each particle of the lily the red is drawn until the white is gone and the new color fills all. So Christ says, "Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me and I in him." We obtain the Living Bread by believing on Christ, by coming to him and by uniting with him.
III. What are the Benefits of the Living Bread?
The text says, " everlasting life." It is a life which clocks and years can't measure. It is a life which begins in the miracle of the new birth, and which continues for eternity. Death is not the end of life, neither is it the beginning of a new life; it is but an incident in an endless life. Everlasting life is a present uninterrupted fellowship with God, and the continuance of that life is a matter of certainty, for God is eternal. All the riches of God's grace, all the wonders of His Word, and all the power of the Holy Spirit are a present resource for a present life lived by faith in Jesus Christ. Eternity will be spent feasting upon the Living Bread. Life without this Bread is death, and will be eternal Hell.
Running through this discourse is a second refrain, "I will raise him up again at the last day."
This is parallel to the first refrain, "Come down from heaven." Jesus Christ came down from heaven to death, that he might raise us up from the grave to life. It is a most ignoble thing, when man, who has had dominion over the creatures and has stood erect upon the earth, falls flat upon the ground, the victim of sin and death. Yet, as a benefit to those who possess the Living Bread, Christ says, "I will stand him up again at the last day." The verb used in the Greek original here literally means "to stand up." The graves are to open, because Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Those loved ones who have passed away are not dead if they sleep in Jesus. Father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife shall stand upon their feet again when the Living Bread returns.
There is a third benefit of the Living Bread, and that is a living Christ. Jesus Christ is alive at the right hand of God. He is there to comfort, guide, and supply our needs, as our Intercessor, Companion, and Friend. He has a hold on our hand, and we may hold on to him.
Three prosperous business men worked together in the same office in a large city. They were educated, trained, had comfortable homes, paid their debts, and were good moral men; but they did not believe in Jesus Christ. One of the men, Jack, as he was called, became sick. He was taken to the hospital. In a few days the word came that he might not recover. Jack's two friends went immediately to comfort and cheer him. They talked with him upon the most pleasant subjects they could think of, but were unable to induce him to cheer up. They assured him that the office force was anxious for his return; that they talked of him; that it would be a reunion day when he returned. Finally, they said, "Well, ol' boy, just hold on. Somehow everything will be all right. Just hold on." Jack looked up into their eyes and with a hopeless expression, said, "How can I hold on when I have nothing to hold to?" The point is, those of us who believe in Christ have him to hold to.
On the solid rock of Christ I stand,
All other else is sinking sand."
Our text has answered three questions. The Living Bread is Jesus Christ who came down from heaven, came to do the will of the Father, and who is God. We may have the Living Bread by believing on Christ, coming to Christ, and uniting with Christ. The benefits of the Living Bread are eternal life, a resurrection of the body, and a living Friend. Is this Living Bread yours? Are you feasting on the manna of a bountiful supply? Thank God, we need only turn to the Bible, and to these marvelous words of Jesus to learn about the Saviour, the way of Salvation, and the glories of salvation. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, provided and explained by God in such simple terms that the way-faring man though a fool can understand.
When a man realizes that he is a sinner, that he dwells in the City of Destruction, or when a Christian finds that he has fallen into the Slough of Despond, and their cries go out for help and for food. God does not offer them a serpent, neither does he hand them a stone, but he gives to them the Living Bread, Jesus Christ!
(Printed upon the request and through the courtesy of a friend to the glory, of Jesus Christ)