Read John 6 here.
The miracles of Jesus have always attracted attention, which he intended. Sometimes the attention was negative (eg. criticism for healing on the Sabbath). In more modern times the attention has attempted to rationalize and explain away the miracles. Whatever the approach, the attention is usually on the miracle itself.
In writing his Gospel, John tended to use the word “sign” more than “miracle”. Although Jesus’ healings and feedings were amazing, and in some cases profoundly changed people’s lives, they are better thought of as “signs” pointing to a greater truth. So rather than just being amazed that a miracle occurred, we should consider why Jesus performed that sign. (Interestingly, throughout John the NIV translates the word “sign” as “miraculous sign”.)
In a pattern that’s repeated in chapter 9, here in chap. 6 Jesus miraculously feed well over 5,000 people, then his next monologue discusses how he is the spiritual Bread of Life. In my research for the sermon I was intrigued to find a metaphoric tradition of hungering and thirsting for God beginning well back in the OT and continuing to Revelation. (Ps 42:1; Is 55:1-3; Matt. 5:10; Jn 4; Jn 6; Rev 7:13-17.)
Jesus places himself in the middle of this tradition and says, “That’s me. I am the Bread of Life that takes away spiritual hunger and gives a joyful eternal life.” Jesus manages to alleviate hunger and suffering but at the same time point people to the solution of their greatest need. He lived in the “here and now” but he always looked to the future.
As we seek to follow Jesus example here, we face several temptations: To be too concerned with people’s immediate needs (hunger, poverty, health); To be too concerned with theoretical truthseeking; To get caught up in my current worries and concerns; To be so heaven focused we overlook relating to people now. Do you find any of these temptations to be a threat to you personally? How about the church in general?
Songs & Scripture
Next week’s sermon will come from John 7 and concentrate on examining how Jesus dealt with opposition. I’m trying to think of songs that have to do with spiritual warfare, but they all seem to be old. Do you have a favorite old “Spiritual Warfare” song, or can you think of a more modern one? The well-known ones I can think of are:
- Faith is the Victory
- Onward Christian Soldiers
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- A Mighty Fortress
- The Battle Belongs to the Lord
- Stand up, Stand up for Jesus
- Had it Not Been the Lord (Zoe Group – 1998 album Our God Reigns)