FOR WHAT FOOD DO YOU HUNGER?
What is the kindest thing you ever did for your family? What is the kindness thing
you ever did for a fellow Christian? What is the kindest thing you ever did for someone
you did not know? What is the kindest thing you ever did for someone who did not even
know you helped them?
One of the greatest joys we can experience is the joy of helping someone else.
There is a sense of fulfillment discovered in helping others that is found in few other
experiences. It is ironic but true that helpfulness arising from kindness adds meaning to
However, one of the most discouraging experiences in life is discovered when a
person attempts to exploit our kindness. Consider this depressing sequence of events.
In compassion, you help someone. At first, the person truly appreciates your kindness.
Soon after you help the person, the person decides to exploit your kindness. He or she
tries to make you responsible for his or her situation, or put you on a guilt trip, or
manipulate you into doing what he or she wants you to do. That is one of life's
discouraging, frustrating, depressing experiences.
- In the gospel of John chapter 6 a huge crowd of people who have no
direction for their lives pursued Jesus until they found him in an unpopulated
- They had watched him heal the sick, and they were impressed.
- First, they probably were touched by the fact that he cared.
- Second, they probably were awed by his power.
- There was no natural explanation for what he did.
- His power went far beyond human ability.
- When these people found Jesus, the gospel of Mark says that Jesus was moved
with compassion because they had no leadership or direction (Mark 6:34).
- So Jesus fed all these people with one boy's lunch.
- Just counting the men, there were 5,000 people.
- He took five barley loaves, which probably were about the size of large dinner
rolls, and two fish and fed all them all they wanted to eat--and they had twelve
baskets of leftovers.
- Suddenly, the lights went on in the minds of this huge crowd.
- "We were impressed with his power to heal the sick."
- "But you don't have to be sick to benefit from his power--he can feed all of
us from virtually nothing."
- "This truly is the Prophet who has come to earth."
- One of the popular spiritual expectations was that God would send an
unnamed Prophet to the nation of Israel to lead them into a new age.
- They concluded that Jesus was the prophet.
- They were actually considering taking Jesus by force and making him
be their king.
- Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he climbed the mountain to be alone.
- About sunset, Jesus' twelve disciples entered a boat to cross the Sea of
Galilee to Capernaum.
- Jesus obviously was not with them.
- So the crowd spent the night in the same area that Jesus fed them.
- During the night, about three hours before sunrise, Jesus walked out across
the sea and joined the disciples in the boat.
- The next morning the crowd waited for Jesus to come down from the mountain.
- When he did not come, they went to Capernaum to look for him.
- They found him in the synagogue and asked, "How did you get over here?"
- Instead of answering them, Jesus made a frank, pointed statement.
- "You are not looking for me because you are impressed with my miracles."
- "You are looking for me because I fed you."
- Jesus knew their only concern was their physical benefit.
- Jesus gave them some advice:
- "Don't focus your life and your efforts on food that spoils."
- "Focus your life and your efforts on the food that will enable you to live
- "I can give you that food, and God Himself has confirmed that I can give it
- They asked Jesus to tell them how they could work God's works (at this point
they understood what he was talking about.)
- Jesus said that the work of God was to believe on the person that God sent
(they knew Jesus was talking about himself).
- Now the situation takes a subtle turn.
- They responded, "Show us a sign so that we can believe you. What work
do you perform?"
- "Moses gave our ancestors manna to eat while they were in the
- Then they quoted Psalms 78:24, "He gave them bread out of heaven to
eat" (do you hear the attempt to manipulate?).
- The implication is clear: God sent Moses to be our great leader and he fed
our ancestors with manna; if God sent you to be our great leader, feed us.
- These people were neither dense nor stupid.
- They watched Jesus heal the sick.
- Jesus fed them--they knew he could do it.
- They were trying to work Jesus, to manipulate him.
- Jesus obviously had God's power, and they were determined to get him to
use that power to feed them indefinitely.
- Jesus replied:
- "Moses did not give your ancestors bread from heaven; God gave them
- "It is God who is offering you the true bread from heaven right now."
- This bread that God is offering right now has the power to give life to this
- In our words, they responded by saying, "Now you are talking! Now you are
telling us what we want to hear! That is the bread we want--give it to us."
- Remember that this conversation has been about eating; Jesus said:
- "I am the bread from heaven that gives eternal life."
- "Come to me, and you will not hunger."
- "Believe in me, and you will not thirst."
- "But your problems is this: you have seen me, but you don't believe."
- In the synagogue listening to this conversation are the local Jewish leaders
(the writer distinguishes them from the multitude by calling them "the Jews").
- When they heard Jesus call himself the bread from heaven, the new manna, they
were genuinely offended.
- "We know who your father and mother are."
- "We know where you grew up."
- "What is this ridiculous nonsense about you coming from heaven?"
- This was Jesus' answer:
- "No one will be attracted to me unless God pulls him toward me."
- "The person who has allowed God to teach him will come to me."
- "The person who believes in me will receive unending life."
- "Your ancestors ate the manna God gave them, but it did not give them
unending life--they all died."
- "I am the living bread, and the person who eats me shall live forever."
- "I will give my own flesh to the world" (in the context, he means for food).
- With these statements, confusion really begins to rule the situation.
- The grumbling had already begun, but now it is louder.
- "How can this man give us his flesh for our food?"
- Jesus intensified the grumbling: "If you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood
you will not receive life. The person who does eat me (use me for food) will
live in me as I live in him."
- Now the grumbling turns into disgust.
- "This is ridiculous! Who can make any sense out of what he is saying?"
- Their thinking was locked on the physical; Jesus was trying to teach them
- Many of the people who had been following Jesus were so disgusted by what
he said that they left him and never followed him again.
- What happened? At least two things happened.
- First, Jesus challenged their concept of what it meant to follow God and to do
- Israel's concept of following God and doing God's work was:
- Law centered.
- You followed God by keeping the law.
- You did God's work by doing what the law said.
- Following God and doing His work was "this world" focused.
- It focused on being God's nation.
- It focused on having a good ruler for the nation.
- It focused on having peace in the nation.
- It focused on being independent as a nation.
- It focused on individual well being or prosperity.
- Remember neither the Old Testament nor Old Testament Judaism said
anything about an eternal home with God, or eternal accountability, or the
concepts of heaven and hell.
- In the Old Testament, the consequences of evil were primarily physical and
- Second, Jesus was revealing a new concept of following God and doing God's
- Following God and doing His work was Savior centered, not law centered.
- He was the bread of life, the source of eternal life.
- He was, not Moses, not the law.
- Following God and doing God's work had an "other world" focus.
- Just as there is physical life, there is eternal life.
- The physical exists in this world; the eternal exists in the next world.
- In that world there is an eternal home with God, and there is eternal
rejection by God.
- Jesus rejected their obsession with the physical.
- Most of these people were poor people who lived in a difficult time.
- To them, the two most important considerations in life were health and food.
- As far as they were concerned, if physical survival is guaranteed, you have it
- Think carefully with me.
- They saw his power to heal sickness and feed the hungry.
- Immediately, they said, "God sent this man. He can feed us indefinitely."
- They did not say, "God sent this man. He can teach us how to live and what
to live for."
- They said, "Let's make him be our king, or, let's manipulate him so that he will
feed us every day."
- When Jesus tried to give them the bread of life, they left in disgust.
- Most of us understand that God spent thousands of years preparing to bring
Jesus into this world.
- God allowed Jesus to be sacrificed in a horrible death, and God raised him
from the dead to prove that He has the power to raise us from the dead.
- God has told us that through Jesus He can completely destroy our sin, make
us holy, purify us, and teach us how to live in an evil world.
- He promises us He will be our Father who always hears us and always helps.
- Knowing that, what are you hungry for? How would you use God's power in
- Is all you want from God:
- A better life style in a better home?
- Healing for a family member when he or she is sick?
- Ending any injustice you suffer on the job?
- Can you measure what you want from God in dollars, possessions, or material
- Or do you want the eternal God to show you how to live? how to deal with
evil in your life? how to live for values and priorities that last eternally? how to
survive your war with evil?
To see God's power in Jesus and dream of groceries, houses, possessions, and
health is more foolish than looking at the power of a space shuttle and dreaming about
using it for a wheel barrow.
Do you want Jesus to use his power to give you your material ambitions, or do
you want Jesus to use his power to forgive you and teach you about finding the life that
will never end? Are you hungry for things, or are you hungry for life?
David Chadwell is going to die. I don't know when.
You are going to die, even with our marvelous technology.
If all I want from God is what He can do for me here and now,
when I die I leave it all behind.
If I learn to let Jesus be the Bread of Life, I take that with me.
I can use religion to temporarily benefit myself, or let my Savior
give me life everlasting.
Place your confidence in what God did in His Son.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 29 June 1997
This sermon is also available in French.
Link to next sermon
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell