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Jesus, the Bread of Life

Date: 25 December, 11.00 am

Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan Sermon Text: John 6:22-59

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TRANSCRIPT

Introduction

Blessed Christmas to everyone, both present here in Henderson and those attending online.


It is great that we can on Christmas morning, come together to celebrate the reason for the season.


If you are here for the first time, a special welcome to you. I hope too that you were with us over the last 2 nights, at our Christmas musical – the better batter.


This is a special weekend for us here in Hermon. This is our 2nd year here in Henderson, after being in Choa Chu Kang for 25 years.


Now that we are fully settled in Henderson, we wanted to take advantage of this long weekend to have a Christmas Musical over 2 nights followed by our Christmas service this morning.


And to be in tune with the festive season, in this long weekend, we are focusing on food.


At the musical there was this secret recipe for a special chocolate cake. And today, we will explore bread. Not just any type of bread, but divine bread.


All this talk about food, I pray will whet our appetites, not just for the thanksgiving lunch that we will partake of soon but for the bread that will give us life everlasting.

Divine bread that will fully satisfy us forever.


John 6 is a long chapter with many verses. What was read to us earlier were the highlights.


And before we journey through the highlights, may I take a few moments to share some context.


It is during the time of the Passover commemoration. This is the time of the year, when the Jews would remember the momentous event of God delivering them from Egyptian slavery.


Slavery that lasted for over 400 years.


Pharoah of Egypt let them go after all the first born in Egypt was killed by God. The Jewish families were spared because God told them, kill a spotless lamb and have its blood painted over your doorframes.


With that the angel of death will pass over your home.


As they left from slavery, they experienced many of God’s miracles, two significant ones were the crossing of the Red Sea and Manna that they would eat in the wilderness for 40 years.


So as the Jews in John 6 were preparing to commemorate this Passover event, Jesus does 2 miracles.


The first miracle was that Jesus fed 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. And significantly when they had all eaten their fill, they collected 12 baskets full of the leftovers.  


The connection of God providing for the 12 tribes of Israel via Manna in the wilderness is thus made for the Jews of John 6.


From this very public miracle, Jesus then does a second one which is for a more private audience.


After the feeding of the 5000, the disciples rowed at night across the lake of Capernaum.


They were over 3 miles from the shore and then Jesus walks to them on the water.

For the disciples, with Passover in mind, I’m sure flashes of the Red Sea crossing would pop up mentally.


Only the disciples witness this miracle but as we read in v22 to 25, the Jews knew something specular had happened, for Jesus had cross over the lake without being in the boat.


Jesus is proving by these miracles, He is not just a human, not just the son of Joseph and Mary, no Jesus is divine.


He has the seal of approval from God. Jesus is the Son of God.


Do not work for food that perishes


In 2013, there was a survey done of 400 undergrads from NUS, NTU, SMU and SIM. This survey was on the dating habits and priorities of university students.


The Straits Times then ran an article about the survey.


What they found out was that when asked to rank their priorities, the top 3 were – firstly, getting good grades, secondly, earning money and thirdly finding a job.


The sub-title states ‘survey finds young people here put grades, job hopes before relationships.


These are quite practical issues are they not? Basically, it’s about putting bread on the table and then to be able to grow the ability to put better quality bread on the table.


In the 10 years, has our priorities change?


In Nov 2022, TODAY Youth Survey headline reads as - Cost of living main source of mental health struggles, amid worries over healthcare and everyday expenses.


The article went on to say, more than seven in 10 ranked dealing with inflation and economic growth as the top priority for the Government to tackle in the next three years.


The current challenging economic situation just heightens the existing concerns for financial security.  


For those of us who saw the musical, we see this tension in the interactions between Ben and Richard.


Co-owners of a cake shop. To Richard, Christmas is the best opportunity to make money.


Richard sings about the opportunity to deliver big bulk orders of 300 or more.


The Christmas spirit makes all our dreams come true. Christmas is great business.


To Richard, chasing business opportunity is necessary because life is more than surviving.


To be content like Ben, Richard thinks, that’s stagnation. If you are not first, you are last.


This mentality was no different during the time of Jesus.


John 6:14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 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 …. 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. 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.”

After the miraculous feeding of the 5000, the people wanted to make him King. They wanted to ensure they could be fed like that all the time.


They wanted someone with such power to overthrow their political masters, the Romans.  


Like Singaporeans today, the Jews were focusing only on the here and now, only on the material world.


For many, the practical issues of making ends meet is the reality, but what we all realize is that when the basic level is met, we do not stop there.


Our level of financial security always keeps going up.


Money is never enough. But the thing is that what money buys will always be perishable.


And as many of us have also experienced, what money buys never truly satisfies.


With the reminder of the manna in the first Passover and the feeding of the 5000, with the 12 baskets full of leftovers, Jesus is emphasizing, He understands our needs.


He can and will provide for all our needs.


In another Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples:


Matthew 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Human nature, our priorities and our yearnings, they have all stayed the same. The form may change, but the substance doesn’t.


I pray that this Christmas, it is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect and ask, what am I chasing?


Is it something that will last or is it going to be like food, perishable?


Do consider what it means for Jesus to be the Bread of Life


After exposing the hearts of the Jews, that all they think about is the material, the here and now, Jesus does not leave them hanging.


No, Jesus tells them that He has provided the solution.


Agustine said – God created us for Himself and we are restless until we rest in Him’.


And this is what we experience in life is it not? Because we strive for things that perish, it does not truly satisfy.


So, Jesus says seek instead for “food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”


Because the Jews had the Passover at the back of their minds, they immediate used that as a reference point. Jesus, are you better than Moses?


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

Jesus is saying, it was God not Moses who gave the manna, Moses was just God’s instrument.


Good that you know and remember the manna your forefathers received in the wilderness. Know that it was God who was the Giver.


So, Jesus explains - that incident points to something bigger. It now points to the true bread from heaven.


And this true bread from heaven will give life to the world.


This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus, the true bread from heaven has come in the form of human child.


As the Jews remembered the Passover, where God saved them from slavery and sustained them in the wilderness …. that points to the bigger picture of God’s ultimate plan of eternal salvation and sustenance in His son Jesus.


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


Only Jesus can fill the restlessness in us.


Jesus explains further: 


John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven.

You and I when we believe in Jesus, will receive eternal life. With eternal life, we will no longer be hungry and we will no longer be thirsty.


Our souls will be fully satisfied.


The manna their forefathers ate though a divine miracle only sustained them physically. Jesus the divine manna from God however will sustain believers spiritually.


Now eternal life is not just living forever and ever. It’s not just existing beyond time and history.


The Gospel of John explains in another section, what eternal life is:


John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Eternal life is having a right relationship with God the father and Jesus Christ His Son.


So, the question is how do we have a right relationship with God?


Jesus explains how He will enable us to have a right relationship:


John 6:51 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.”

So the bread that gives eternal life is the very flesh of Jesus. And what does it mean for Jesus to give of His flesh? 


Remember I mentioned earlier that at the first Passover, a spotless lamb was slain so that the angle of death would not visit the home.


The Gospel of John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


The picture thus before us is that Jesus gives His flesh by shedding His blood on the cross.


By the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, we have been saved from eternal death.

What does it mean then, to know God and Jesus Christ?


It means to believe that Jesus is the true manna, sent to die on the cross for our sin.

And when we believe the cross was why Jesus came to earth that first Christmas, we will receive eternal life. We will know the only true God and Jesus Christ His Son.   


Now that we know why Jesus came that first Christmas, it does justify then isn’t it why Christmas is such a big thing for Christians.


Why Christmas is celebrated with such enthusiasm every year.


It’s what the children reminded us earlier – Joy to the World the Lord has come, let earth receive her king.


Her King who in grace and truth, came to die so that we might have eternal life.


Do respond to Jesus the Bread of Life 


To this truth that Jesus is the Bread of Life, we see a few responses.


The first are the sceptics who know little about Jesus.


John 6:30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?.... 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

They will want more signs, more proof that Jesus is who He says He is. And their scepticism is based on only what their natural eyes are perceiving.


To those who might be in this category, may I encourage you to come and go through the Gospel of Mark with us. We have this 8 session journey provided just for you. We call it Christianity Explored.


Let Jesus speak to you about who He is. Come and give yourself the opportunity to know Him.


The second group are sceptics who have explored Christianity in the past.


John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” …. 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him

Maybe you have strong doubts that any version of religion or faith makes sense or has anything of value to offer the contemporary world.


Maybe you have looked at Christianity but now have dismissed it as irrelevant.

May I invite you to reconsider. 


We have a 12 session book reading journey to share with you. It is a book entitled ‘Making sense of God’.


Come, give yourself the opportunity to see how Christianity is relevant.


The final group are those who understand and believe.


Jesus says

John 6:53 “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. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

As you and I need to eat bread so that it will nourish our physical bodies, we need to personally believe and ask Jesus into our lives so that we can be nourish spiritually.


Each of us has to make a personal decision to follow Jesus.


If you are here today because you were invited by a Hermonite, do share your desire to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord with them.


For those who are listening online or you are here but not with a Hermonite friend, come and speak with me today.


If not today, contact me. My details are on the church website.

 

For all of us believers, may I share some words of encouragement.


John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (also v40, v44, v54)

The joyous reminder of the perseverance of the saints. We are in the palm of God as believers and Jesus says 4 times in John 6, it is He who will raise us up at his second coming.


We do not persevere because of our own strength or effort. No, we persevere in the faith because Jesus holds us tightly.


Christmas is a reminder that not only has Jesus saved us, Jesus will also sustain us. Christmas is thus worth celebrating not just for the advent of our Lord but for His sustaining grace.


At our Christmas musical, Ben and Richard were given a secret recipe for a chocolate cake. It was the foundation of their business.


In scene 3 which is titled “recipe to life”, Ben sings as he makes the cake with the secret recipe.


He sings – just like cakes in an oven will turn out according to the recipe’s direction, so will life too depending on choices we make and the stuff we hold important.


Our creator has given us in John 6, the secret recipe of life eternal.


Thus our children encouraged earlier, ‘Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, Go, tell it on the mountain, That Jesus Christ is born’


Conclusion

The scene that captured the spirit of Christmas for me in the musical was sung by Ben’s wife.


As Ben struggled with contentment and the jealously of seeing Richard succeed, she sings:


Worry not, you forgot that there is one who knows what tomorrow holds …. Fear not, their (the birds) maker calls you son. Your guarantor is the Lord. Your Father is the one you can trust.

Christmas is a yearly reminder of that.


Christmas reminds every believer, trust God because you are so precious in God’s sight.


Christmas is Emmanuel, God with us.  In Christ, we have everything.


The bible proclaims:

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but instead He humbled Himself to be a servant who went to the cross for us.


By His poverty we are now rich. Rich in having a right relationship with God who has an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.  


On 20th Dec 2023, the Straits Times reported that the main stadium of the 1924 Paris Olympics was ready and handed over to the organizing committee for the 2024 games.


It’s famous because it was featured as the venue for the film Chariots of Fire. In that film, it included a testimony of the British athlete Eric Liddell.


Eric Liddell was born to Scottish missionary parents.


At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Liddell refused to run in the heats for his favoured 100 metres because they were held on a Sunday. Instead, he competed in the 400 metres held on a weekday, a race that he won.


He honoured God about everything.


Eric could have gone on to compete in many more Olympics, gone into a political career but instead he returned to China in 1925 to serve as a missionary teacher.


Aside from two short trips home to Scotland, he remained in China until his death in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945.


Why did Eric Liddell live like he did? He shares:


“Many of us are missing something in life because we are after the second best, I put before you what I have found to be the best - one who is worthy of all our devotion - Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour for the young and the old. Lord, here I am”

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