IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: JESUS THE BEST SOUL SATISFYING BREAD
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35.
Our text this morning in a very simple way tells us, first, that Jesus Christ is to be received. That reception is here described: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” The second doctrine of the text is that when Jesus Christ is received, he is superlatively satisfying to the soul— “Shall never hunger;” “Shall never thirst.”
To this day the memorable expressions of our Lord in this chapter remain a stumbling-block to some, while they are full of glorious instruction to others. We see the world every day parting more and more definitely into two camps, the camp of the chosen of God, to whom is made known the mystery of the kingdom, the babes in grace who read the simple teaching of the gospel and rejoice in it; and on the other side the carnal host who hear the word, but look no deeper than its outward letter, to whom it becomes a “savour of death unto death,” because they pervert the Lord’s spiritual word to a carnal meaning, and straightway heap unto themselves abounding ceremonies, and pierce themselves through with deadly errors. I scarcely think that the prominence of sacramentarianism nowadays is to be altogether regretted; it is only a more clear and manifest severing of the precious from the vile. There is a division as marked as between death and life, and as deep as hell, between the spiritual church which believes in Jesus, and the carnal church which believes in sacraments; between the regenerate who look to Christ upon the cross, and the twice dead who believe in a piece of bread and pay reverence to a wine cup. The Saviour spake in symbols, that the proud might hear in vain, that hearing they might not hear, and seeing they might not perceive, executing upon that self-conceited generation which rejected him the judicial sentence of the Lord, for their hearts were waxen gross, their ears were dull of hearing, and their eyes had they closed.
But now, speaking to those to whom the Lord has given to understand his meaning, let me say, our Saviour uses very simple figures. Think of his calling himself bread! How condescending, that the commonest article upon the table should be the fullest type of Christ! Think of his calling our faith an eating and a drinking of himself! Nothing could be more instructive; at the same time nothing could better set forth his gentleness and humility of spirit, that he does not object to speak thus of our receiving him. God be thanked for the simplicity of the gospel. The longer I live the more I bless God that we have not received a classical gospel, or a mathematical gospel, or a metaphysical gospel; it is not a gospel confined to scholars and men of genius, but a poor man’s gospel, a ploughman’s gospel; for that is the kind of gospel which we can live upon and die upon. It is to us not the luxury of refinement, but the staple food of life. We want no fine words when the heart is heavy, neither do we need deep problems when we are lying upon the verge of eternity, weak in body and tempted in mind. At such times we magnify the blessed simplicity of the gospel. Jesus in the flesh made manifest becomes our soul’s bread. Jesus bleeding on the cross, a substitute for sinners, is our soul’s drink. This is the gospel for babes, and strong men want no more.
Again, it strikes me as being very noteworthy, and especially very worthy of thanks, that our Saviour has taken metaphors of a very common character, so that if our hearts are but right we cannot go anywhere but what we are reminded of him. At our tables we are very apt to forget the best things; the indulgence of the appetite is not very promotive of spirituality, yet we cannot sit down to table but what the piece of bread speaks to us and says, “Poor soul, you want even bread to be given you, you are so needy that your bread must be the gift of heavenly charity.
Jesus has come down from heaven to keep you from absolute starvation; he has come down to be bread and water to you.” As you take up that loaf and think of the processes through which it has passed before it has become bread, it preaches a thousand sermons to you concerning the sowing of Jesus as a grain of wheat in the earth, his grinding between the millstones of divine wrath, his passing through the fiery oven. We see the sufferings of Jesus in every crumb we put into our mouths. Why, the Lord has hung the heavens with his name, and made them tell of his love: you sun proclaims the Sun of Righteousness, and every star speaks of the Star of Bethlehem. You cannot walk your garden, or go into the streets, or open a door, or put on your dress, without being reminded of the Lord Jesus. I remember once visiting a poor Christian in the hospital, who had often attended my ministry, and he said, “Why, sir, you have given us so many illustrations, that as I lie in bed everything I see, or hear, or read of, brings to mind something in your sermons.” How much more true is this of our Great Teacher: we are glad that he has hung up the gospel everywhere, till every dewdrop reflects him, and every wind whispers his name. Day and night talk to each other of him, and the hours commune concerning things to come.
The Lord Jesus Christ is living bread. Bread such as we get from the baker is in itself dead; and if you put it to dead lips, there are two dead things together, and nothing can come of the contact. But our Lord Jesus Christ is living bread; and, when he touches the dead lip of an unregenerate sinner, life comes into it. He brings life even to those who are dead in sin. He says, “Young man, arise,” and he sits up upon the bier. He takes a little girl by her hand, and says, “Talitha cumi— Maid, arise,” and she sits up in her bed. He calls to Lazarus, who by this time stinketh, and he says, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he comes forth, wearing his grave-clothes. He has shuffled down from the niche in the cave, and he has made his way out of the damps of the cold sepulchre. Oh, what a wonderful Christ this is, who is not only bread for the living, but life for the dead! Pray, you who can pray, that he would come here just now, and be life to those who are in the darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, that they may live. When they live, then how gladsome will my text be to them, for life needs bread whereby it may be sustained! The first thing that we want, if we have life, is something for that life to feed upon; and here comes in the text— “I am that bread of life.” Your newly-discovered necessities Jesus can meet. Your newly-begotten wants Jesus can supply. Your hunger and your thirst can all be met, not by fifty things, but by one thing, by Jesus Christ himself, in whom there dwells in fulness all that the spiritual life can possibly require.
My brethren, if we do but get a hold of Jesus Christ, and feed on him, he is sufficient for us— sufficient for gigantic labours, sufficient for anguish, and grief, and sorrow; sufficient for the weakest of the babes, for he is the unadulterated milk; sufficient for the full-grown men among us, for he is the strong meat of the kingdom. His flesh is meat indeed. For your spiritual manhood there is bone, gristle, muscle, brain, everything that you want, in Christ. If you feed on him, he will build you up, not in one direction only, but in all ways; for ye are complete in him— thoroughly furnished unto all necessities. Christ Jesus meets all the wants of all his people with a divine sufficiency.
Furthermore, to feed upon Christ means to meditate much upon him— to think much of him. Brothers, there are many sweet doctrines in the Bible which I delight to make my own by reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting them; for they are parts of the great circle of truth which is revealed of God. But I find that I am never so comforted, strengthened, and sustained, as by deliberately considering Jesus Christ’s precious death and atoning sacrifice. His sacrifice is the centre of the circle, the focus of the light. There is a charm, a divine fascination, about his wounds.
“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. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”
Beloved Friends, as many of you as have been taught of God, know the spiritual meaning of these words. You know that the Doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ is food to your soul and you know that the great Truth of the substitutionary Sacrifice of Christ which is expressed by His blood, is the most nourishing cordial to your heart.
I feel in my heart a joy that comforts me–and so Christ’s flesh is food, indeed, to my soul! And when I think that, in that flesh, Jesus lived here on earth for over 30 years and knew all the weakness, temptation and suffering to which that flesh is liable–when I think how He proved Himself to be bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh–then I understand how He sympathizes with the weak, tempted and suffering sons of men! And this makes the sad heart glad and so, again, Christ’s flesh is food, indeed!
Just before our Lord uttered the words of our text, He had said to the Jews, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world.” If you had lived with the children of Israel in the wilderness–and you had eaten manna as they did–you would have died as they did. If you come to the Communion Table, and merely eat bread, “not discerning the Lord’s body,” you will die. Or if you go to a so-called “priest” and he gives you a “consecrated” wafer, and you eat it, you will die. But whoever spiritually feeds upon Jesus–whoever feeds his soul upon the great central Truth that God in human flesh was made the Substitute for all who believe in Him–he shall never die! His body may pass through the change that we call, death, but his spirit shall live forever and, in due time, his body and soul shall be reunited and his complete manhood shall be “forever with the Lord.”
There is the Gospel as Paul preached it! May the Spirit of God enable you to receive it by faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Mary–and so you will find that His flesh will become to you food, indeed, and His blood drink, indeed. God grant it, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
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