Sunday, February 21, 2021



Jesus, the Bread of Life, Part 2


In the previous passage, we read about Jesus feeding thousands of people from two loaves and five fishes. After doing so, Jesus went off by himself. The disciples gave up on him by nightfall and started rowing across the lake to get back home. Jesus walked on water to join them and made the boat go ashore.

This passage starts on the next day. The crowd realized Jesus was gone even though the disciples had left in the only boat. So, they got in other boats that had come and went over the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum to look for Jesus. 

The motive for the crowd was trying to find out how and when he came to Capernaum, since it did not appear that he had come by boat. Given what Jesus said to them, they must have also been hoping he would feed the whole crowd again. So, Jesus addresses them at this point. He really was a master at getting to the point, regardless of the question you asked.

Also, it appears that this discourse at this point actually occurred in the synagogue. Verse 59 says that Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. This teaching is commonly called the Bread of Life Discourse. 

So, Jesus did not tell them how he got to Capernaum, instead he challenged them. He accused them of looking for him in order to get fed, not to believe in him. He began his statement with the double amen, translated in English as “truly, truly”. This is a manner of speaking that creates emphasis by repetition. He said they did not come because they saw the signs, or miracles, he had done. 

This means they were not interested in Jesus’ divinity. They were not interested in salvation through faith in the Son of God. They were interested in the material things he could give them.

Many people are like that today. They are not interested in knowing Jesus as much as they are getting stuff from him. Worse, there are many popular ministers that cater to this desire by teaching people how to get stuff from God. 

This is the essence of the Word of Faith movement, where you can name what you want and claim that you have it and God must give it to you. Their gaze has been averted from the giver to the gifts. 

So, Jesus gave them a course correction. He told them to stop laboring for food that perishes. They had gone to great effort following Jesus around just to get bread to eat and were still doing so.

Instead, Jesus said, labor for, or seek, the food that endures to eternal life. He used a food metaphor here, but he was telling them to stop the pursuit of material things and pursue eternal life. And that  eternal life would be given to them by the Son of Man. (27) The title “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for himself.

This discourse, or dialogue, is not unlike the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. She was focused on physical water and wanted Jesus to give her water that would quench her thirst forever. But Jesus was speaking metaphorically of eternal life.

Jesus also said that God the Father set his seal on Jesus the Son. (27) A seal was a mark made in wax by an instrument that left a mark in the wax. It was often used on a message or letter or even an official order for a government official. The seal was unique to the individual and so authenticated the document as being from that person. 

Jesus meant by this that the Father had sent him and vouched for him, that he was the Messiah and Savior. How did God the Father do this? This passage does not say, but others do. 

He gave prophetic words over the course of history to help the Jews identify him, he sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus and to identify him, and he spoke at Jesus’ baptism, calling him his son. Later, he would authenticate him by raising him from the dead. 

Out of all of this talk, the Jews in the crowd focused on the word “labor” in regards to obtaining eternal life. So, they asked Jesus what works did they need to do? (28) This shows us that they were focused on working for salvation. 

It seemed to be a common idea among the Jews. It is also reflected in the story of the young rich man in Matthew 10. He asked Jesus “what good dead must I do to have eternal life”. 

But Jesus brought them to the idea of belief. He said the work of God is to believe in him whom he has sent. (29) And, Jesus is the one God has sent. 

That is the core message of the New Testament. Salvation is not obtained by works. Paul said it plainly: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight”. (Romans 3:20) 

Instead, salvation comes to us by grace through faith. Again Paul said “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)

Paul also wrote: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The crowd understood that Jesus said eternal life came from belief in the Son of Man, and that Jesus was claiming to be that Son of Man, but they did not believe him. So, the asked him what sign he would do so that they might believe in him. 

I find this to be one of the most appalling statements in the New Testament. Jesus had just the day before fed them through a miracle, a sign. He also somehow miraculously appeared in Capernaum despite having no boat on the shore. Yet, they wanted another, greater, sign.

They even had the audacity to refer to bread. They said Moses gave them bread from heaven, meaning the manna God gave their forefathers in the wilderness. (31) They appear to be quoting Psalm 78:24, which says “(he) rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. 

What they were saying was, if you claim to be superior to Moses, show us by doing a miracle greater than Moses did by bringing us bread from heaven. However, the “he” of Psalm 78 is not Moses, but God. 

Jesus corrected them, saying it was not Moses the gave them bread from heaven, but his Father. (32) Notice he did not say “the Father” as he did in verse 27, but “my Father”, making a claim to be the Son of God sent by the Father. 

There is a shift of verb tense here that is interesting. Moses gave them Manna, but the Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (32)

Jesus expanded the thought of bread from heaven, though, saying the bread of God, which is the same as saying the bread from heaven,  is the one who came from heaven and gives life to the world. (33) Jesus is, of course, referring to himself.

The crowd still did not believe him. They asked Jesus to give them this bread always, still focusing on the physical rather than the spiritual. (34)

Again we see these people being much like the woman at Jacob’s well. She said “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water”. (John 4:15) She also focused on the physical rather than the spiritual. 

Jesus the Bread of Life, Part 3


Since the Jews did not understand what Jesus meant, Jesus again directed them away from loaves of bread to himself, saying he is the bread of life. This is considered the first of the “I AM” sayings, where Jesus invokes the holy name of God to identify himself.

So, Jesus as God is the bread which satisfies forever, so one will not be hungry again. Then Jesus added the metaphor of water, saying whoever believes in him shall never thirst. (35) Jesus said practically the same thing to the woman at the well: whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. (John 4:14) 

He is speaking of eternal life here. Certainly, we continue to need Jesus on a daily basis, but once we come to him and believe in him, we have eternal life, life that is permanent and does not need to be restored or given again and again. 

The Father sent the bread and Jesus is the bread. He is the source of eternal life. It is a one time deal - once you get eternal life, you never need anything else again to have life. 

In contrast to those who believe in Jesus, these people have seen him but do not believe. (36) And we know that not all who hear the gospel will believe. 

But, all of those the Father gives to Jesus will come to him. If the Father has given a person to the Son, that person will come to the Son. And if a person comes to the Son, the Son will receive him and will not cast him out ever. (38) Again, Jesus says that salvation is permanent. It is not even ours to lose. He holds us and he will not let us go.

The reason Jesus will not cast out anyone who has come to him is his obedience to the Father. Jesus came from heaven to do the will of the one who sent him. (38) The one who sent him is the Father. And the will of the Father is that the Son will not lose any of all that  the Father has given him. Rather, he will raise them on the last day. (40) 

So, it is the Father’s will that those he gives to Jesus will come to Jesus and Jesus will keep them and raise them on the last day. 

Peter reflected this truth when he wrote that we have been born again to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us, where Jesus is, ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Jesus concluded with a plain statement that it is the will of his Father that everyone who believes in the Son has eternal life and is resurrected on the last day. (40)

This is the doctrine that Baptists have commonly called “once saved, always saved”. It is also called “the perseverance of the saints”. 

Section 5 of the Baptist Faith and Message says:

 “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.”

The Westminster Confession states the same doctrine in Chapter 17:

“They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally, nor finally, fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”

The better term might be the preservation of the saints, since Jesus preserves us by his power and raises us on the last day. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

 The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 54).


Sunday, February 14, 2021



Jesus, the Bread of Life - Part 1


Between chapter 5 and 6 we see another time lapse of unknown length. John only wrote “after this”. Jesus left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee.  In verse 4, the time is said to be when the Passover was “at hand” or near. This would be the second Passover mentioned by John during Jesus’ ministry. 

Jesus traveled with his disciples up to the other side, or far side, of the Sea of Galilee. (1) Since the Jews lived on the west side of the Sea, and Gentiles on the east side, in Roman Syria, the “other side” would logically mean the west side. John added an explanation for his Greek and Roman readers that it is the Sea of Tiberias.

The Romans knew the Sea of Galilee as the Sea of Tiberias because  Herod Antipas had built a city next to the Sea and called it Tiberias in honor of the Roman emperor who was his patron. He also made the city his capital and he named the sea the Sea of Tiberias. That is what the Greek readers would have known.

The area on the west and north of the sea included Bethsaida and Capernaum, both home to some of the disciples and an area Jesus stayed in often.

A large crowd followed Jesus from Galilee because they had seen him heal the sick. (2) These are not disciples, but inquirers and curiosity seekers. 


Jesus went up on the mountain and sat down with his disciples. This would have been the area west of the sea now known as the Golan Heights. Jesus climbed up partway to the top of one of these hills, which they called mountains. This is what he would do if he intended to separate from the crowds and talk to his disciples. 

As Jesus and the disciples watched the crowd gathering, he put the disciples to a test of faith. We can know this from the fact that Jesus already knew what he was going to do and that he asked his question in order to test them. (6) 

He asked Philip where they could buy bread to feed the crowd.  Philip was a logical target; he was from Bethsaida, which was not far from there.  Philip did not answer the question, but said that it would cost too much money for them to even give each person a little. (7) The amount he mentioned was about eight months wages for a manual worker. It shows that he was focused on the natural world, not the world of Jesus’ supernatural works. 

Philip had been present at the wedding in Cana and had seen Jesus provide what was lacking by turning water into wine. Yet, it did not occur to him that Jesus could provide what was lacking here. It certainly was a much larger crowd to provide for. 

Andrew, Peter’s brother, chimed in that there was a boy with a sack lunch containing five barley loaves and two fish. These loaves would not be what you buy in the grocery store today. They would be more small cakes like Twinkie but made from barley, which was the grain of the poor. The fish were likely small like sardines or some other small fish, and probably dried. 

The fact that Andrew mentioned the food makes you think for a minute that he has faith Jesus could do something with this small lunch. But then he dashed our hopes by saying “what are they for so many”. (9) 

I can envision Jesus shaking is head while his eyes are still on the crowd. Then he proceeded to show them that the important thing was not what the fish were, but who Jesus is.

So, Jesus had everyone down. John wrote the there were about 5,000 men. If you add the women and children that were present, the crowd was 10,000 people at a minimum and maybe as many as 20,000. 

John bothered to mention there was much grass in the place. This means it was likely spring. This coincides with the statement in verse 4 that it was almost time for Passover. That feast occurred in spring, from late March to early April. 

When this area gets some rain in early spring, the grass springs up. But once it gets hot in the summer, the grass all dies and is gone. For those who challenge the accuracy of the gospel accounts, it is a very specific observation on John’s part to deal with. 

Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and had them distributed to the crowd along with pieces of fish. Everyone ate until they were full. Then Jesus had the disciples gather the left overs. They filled 12 baskets with them. The number 12 has significance. It seems that Jesus wanted to convey the message that the Lord is sufficient for the 12 tribes of Israel. 

Those who saw what Jesus had done, began to speculate that he was the Prophet Moses talked about in Deuteronomy 18:15. They began to think about grabbing Jesus and declaring him to be king. Who wouldn’t want a king that could give you all you wanted to eat. Jesus wanted no part of this, so he left and went up the mountain by himself. (15)

The Jews at that time longed for the Messiah or Prophet to come. But, what they wanted was a Messiah that would defeat the Romans and restore Israel to a great kingdom as it was under David. Jesus was not that kind of Messiah, so he avoided that scenario by leaving. 

He has already resisted the devil’s temptation to have all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time in exchange for worshipping him. (Luke 4:5-8) He resisted this also, because it was not the mission or the means given him by the Father. 

This story shows us Jesus’ divinity by showing his authority over material things, including food. It was also a lesson that, when we have Jesus, we will have all we need. But, it also set the stage for the teaching he was to give about himself. 

Jesus Walks on Water


The next story is sort of an insertion in the larger narrative about Jesus and bread. 

The disciples must have given up on Jesus coming down from the mountain once it got dark. They decided to cross the lake, maybe to go to one of their homes. But the wind came up and kept them from making good progress across the lake. 

Then the wildest thing happened. As they strained against the oars, they saw Jesus coming to them. He was not in a boat. He was walking on the water. They were frightened. No one can do that and it must have been an unnerving sight. Again, Jesus was revealing his divinity and glory. But Jesus told them not be be afraid and got into the boat. A second miracle occurred then as the boat immediately came to the shore.

John already told us that Jesus made all things (John 1:3) That included the seas. Genesis 1:9-10 says:

“And God said, Let the water under the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear And it was so. God called the dry land Earth and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.  

Jesus made the seas and placed them where he wanted them. He had authority over the seas both at creation and during his incarnation.

So, here we see Jesus’ divinity again through his authority over nature. He walked on water, which is humanly impossible, and he caused the boat to be immediately at the shore. Imagine trying to go to sleep that night remembering all of those baskets of food going out to the crowd from one boy’s lunch, remembering Jesus calmly walking across the stormy sea and your bewilderment of immediately coming to the shore. 

They had seen Jesus’ power as God all day long. But they also heard his proclamation. When Jesus came to the boat, he not only said do not be afraid, he said “it is I”. (20) In English that sounds insignificant, but not in the original Greek.

In Greek, Jesus’ words were “ego eimi”. The word “ego” in Greek means “I am”. But the word “eimi” in Greek also means “I am”. So, literally, Jesus said “I am, I am”. This is significant because of the Greek translation of the Old Testament used this same construction in Exodus 3:14. 

Exodus is the story of Moses encountering God in the burning bush. When God commissioned Moses to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites, Moses asked God his name. God said, translated into English, “I am who I am”. (Exodus 3:14) But the Greek translation is “ego eimi”. So, Jesus identified himself by the same name God identified himself with to Moses. 

There are several “I Am” sayings in John, where Jesus applied the divine name to himself. For example, he said “I am” the bread of life and “I am” the light of the world. There are seven of them. But here, Jesus also declares himself to be “I Am”.

Sometimes when discussing Jesus with a skeptic, you will hear them say “Jesus never said he was God”. You can use this passage and the seven “I AM” statements to refute that claim. Jesus stated that he is God and he demonstrated it through his signs\miracles. 

John recorded the statements and the signs so that we would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the divine Son of God, and that by believing, we would have eternal life in his name. 

These stories now set up what follows: the Bread of Life Discourse which comes next. 

Sunday, February 07, 2021




Witnesses to Jesus

Jesus often witnessed about himself, saying that he was sent by the Father, that he was the Son, and the people had to believe in him to be saved. But he also said he was in perfect unity with the Father an submission to his will.

In verse 30, Jesus reiterated this, saying he does nothing on his own, but only does his father’s will. He was perfectly obedient to the Father. Everything he did and said were what the Father wanted done and said. Therefore, Jesus’ implication is that his witness to himself is never his alone, but always also the witness of the Father.

Remember that Jesus is speaking to the Jewish leaders who want to kill him because he claimed God as his own Father, making himself equal to God. The Jewish leaders were outraged at this claim. So, in verse 31, knowing what the Jews would be thinking about his claim to be the Son of God (17), Jesus said if he alone bore witness about himself, his testimony is not true. 

Jesus did not mean that he would be lying without a witness to back him up. Rather, he meant that the Jews would not consider his testimony to be true without witnesses to verify it. That is why the NIV uses the word “valid”, to explain this as opposed to translating the word literally as “true”. 

The 2007 version of the ESV also tried to help us out by saying his testimony would not be “deemed” to be true. But the 2011 version went back to the literal translation of simply “true”. The Greek word is “alethes” and is usually translated as “true”.

This idea of requiring witnesses goes back to the Old Covenant law. For example, Deuteronomy 17:6 required at least two witnesses to convict a person of a capital offense and put him to death. Deuteronomy 19:15 required two or more witnesses to connect a person of any offense. Numbers 35:30 required at least two witnesses to convict a person of murder. 

By Jesus’ time, though, this concept had been enlarged to require two witnesses to establish any important fact. Knowing this, Jesus goes into an explanation of the witnesses to his claims about himself.

So, as Jesus implied in verse 30, he states more clearly in verse 32 that there is another who bears witness about him. If we see verse 32 as connected to verse 30, we see that he was referring to the Father. The Father is the one who sent him in verse 30. Since the Father is God and is always true, his testimony about Jesus has to be true. The Father, therefore, is the first witness.

But, as the infomercial says, wait, there’s more. In verse 33, Jesus said that John the Baptist also bore witness to him. The Jews sent people to investigate John, just as they were doing to Jesus. Initially, the Jews were impressed by John, considering him to be the first prophetic voice for hundreds of years.  

Jesus said he was a burning and shining lamp. (35) This again is John the Apostle’s use of dark and light. The world was dark in sin and ignorance, but John the Baptist shone the light of truth on them. He identified Jesus to the Jews who came to investigate him (1:19-28) and he identified Jesus as the Lamb of God to his disciples (1:29-34). 

And Jesus said they rejoiced in for a while. That probably ended when John called the religious leaders to repent in order to prepare for the kingdom of God.

Although Jesus followed the Jewish requirement of two witnesses, he also pointed out to them that he did not need the witness of a man. But, he presented it to meet their requirements so that they might be saved. (34) This is Jesus taking the form of a servant rather than grasping his prerogatives as God, as Philippians 2:6-7 says. He does not need a human witness, but they do. 

John the Baptist is, therefore, the second witness. 

But wait, there’s still more! Jesus said he had a testimony greater than that of John. (36) That testimony is the works he was doing. The “works” is a reference to the healings he has worked on the people brought to him, including the paralyzed man at the pool. 

Again, Jesus said those works are in line with the will of the Father because the Father gave him those works to accomplish. Since he accomplished the work the Father gave him to do, those works testify that the Father sent him. (37) So, each of his works are testimonies, not only of the Son, but of the Father who gave them. The works are the third witness.

In the last part of verse 37, Jesus turned from just explaining the validation of his testimony by the testimony or witness of the Father, John the Baptist, and his works, to adding a rebuke of the Jews who were questioning him.

He said they had never heard the Father’s voice, nor seen his form. (37) But, Jesus had. He was in heaven with the Father, the Father showed the Son what he was doing, and the Father sent him to witness to the human race.

They, on the other hand, had none of these things. This was true of the present generation. This was also true historically. When the Jews were at Sinai and heard the thunder and saw the lightning that accompanied the Lord coming to the mountain, they asked Moses to go meet God and listen to him because they were afraid to. (Exodus 20:19)

But Jesus went further and said they did not have the Father’s word abiding in them. (38) This would be a shocking statement because the Jews in general, and the Pharisees in particular, studied the Scripture, memorized it, and listened to rabbis teach it. 

The proof that God’s word did not abide in them is that they did not believe the one God sent, meaning Jesus. (38) Although they searched the Scriptures to obtain eternal life, and those Scriptures bore witness to Jesus, they would not come to Jesus to receive eternal life. 

How do the Old Testament scriptures bear witness of Jesus? They bear witness through prophecy and types. 

As soon as the first man and woman fell into sin at the urging of the serpent, God told the serpent that the offspring of the woman would defeat him. That was prophecy. (Genesis 3:15) 

God continued to reveal more and more to his prophets, who shared them with God’s people all through the Old Testament writings. 

God also gave them types. The sacrificial system had many types to teach the people the need for atonement through the sacrifice of life. There were also people who were types of Christ, such as David.

There is a book by Christopher J. H. Wright called “Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament” which is a great study on this topic.

Despite the prophecies and types, the Jews refused to refused to come to Jesus, demonstrating that they did not love God the Father as they claimed. (42) They would not glorify Jesus, the one sent by the Father, but they would glorify men who came on their own. History tells us of many false Messiahs that came during this time period up to 70 A.D. There were also famous rabbis that the Jews glorified for their teaching. But they did not give glory to Jesus.

The Jews especially revered Moses as the giver of the law. The law, part of God’s covenant with Israel, was thing that made the Jews special. Yet, Jesus said Moses would condemn them, because he wrote about Jesus, but they would not believe. (45)

Although it could be said that all of what Moses wrote in the first five books of the Bible pointed to Jesus, one thing stands out. That is recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses said “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, form your brothers, it is to him you shall listen”. In saying this, Moses reflected the words the Lord had spoken to him. 

The Jews of Jesus time believed those words to be a prophecy of the Messiah. That is why people in the gospels speculated if John the Baptist or Jesus could be The Prophet. Remember in John 1:21, the Pharisees asked John if we was the Prophet. They were referring to the words of Moses. 

We will see in the next chapter, after Jesus miraculously feeds the 5,000, that some declare him to be “the Prophet who is to come into the world”. (John 6:14)

But the leaders of the Jews did not want to entertain that thought. Jesus said if they had believed Moses, the would have believed in him. (46) Peter later condemned them for this, in his sermon in Acts 3, as he specifically identified Jesus as the prophet about whom Jesus spoke.  So, the Scriptures are the fourth witness.

Take Aways

We have the witness of the Father, Jesus’s own words, and Jesus’ works all set before us in the New Testament, and the Old Testament with its prophecies and types. So, we should read and study the Scripture to know Jesus as fully as possible.

We should also share those Scriptures with those who do not know Jesus, so they may come to know him as well.

We must witness to people about Jesus where they are in life. Jesus did this with the Jews and their need for witnesses. 

The Apostle Paul modeled this behavior to the Corinthians. He said, even though he was free from all people, he became a servant to all in order to win more of them to Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)


One thing we have to realize today as Americans is that lost people are no longer Christianized. They do not speak church language or know what the Bible says. Most of what they think they know about Christianity comes from unflattering portrayals in movies and televisions shows. We need to learn to communicate with them the truth of the gospel. 

Friday, February 05, 2021

 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. - Colossians 3:1-4