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The Danger of Loving the Provision More Than the Provider

Following the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus offers the lengthiest analysis of one of His miracles in the Gospels. Today, much like the crowds following Jesus, we follow Him with our own agendas and desires. Jesus tells his audience that they are looking to Him to give them bread when He Himself is the bread. Can we truly say, regardless of our circumstances, that He is enough?

Todd WagnerSep 25, 2011
John 6:22-40

Messages In This Series (10)
The Light that will Put You on the List: How to be One of the Most Spiritually Powerful People Today
Todd WagnerFeb 19, 2012
My Favorite Bible Story that's not in the Bible
Todd WagnerJan 29, 2012
The Division, the Defense, and the Duty: Breaking the Spiral of Silence
Todd WagnerNov 20, 2011
John 7: The Bible Collapses Here
Todd WagnerNov 13, 2011
The Decision that Leads to Division: Who is this Jesus?
Todd WagnerNov 6, 2011
The Sovereign and All-Satisfying Jesus: Will You Follow Him?
Todd WagnerOct 30, 2011
The Most Grumbled About, Argument-Inducing, Difficult, Disciple-Losing Message Jesus Ever Taught
Todd WagnerOct 23, 2011
What Must be True in Our Lives if We are Going to Say "Christ is Enough"
Todd WagnerOct 16, 2011
The Danger of Loving the Provision More Than the Provider
Todd WagnerSep 25, 2011
The Perfect Shepherd. For Green Pastures and Violent Waters.
Todd WagnerSep 18, 2011

I made mention last week of a little survey a guy named George Barna took, and it wasn't just me who mentioned it. USA Today picked it up right after that and did a little article in there. This is what it says in USA Today. It has this little headline that says "More Americans Tailoring Religion to Fit Their Needs." It talks about how one day we're going to be a nation of 310 million people with 310 million different religions.

This article goes through and talks about how we're a designer society that designs our clothes, our food, and our lifestyles in a way that brings satisfaction to us. Increasingly, we are designing the idea of God. We are making up God as we go. There's a gentleman, George Barna, like I said, who led this particular survey, who said, "Look. Here's what we can say about Americans today. They say, 'I believe in God, I believe the Bible is a good book, and then I believe whatever I want. I just make him out to be whatever I want to be and do whatever it is I want to do, but I'm good with God.'"

What I want to share with you is God is not good with that idea. He is a person, and he would like you to know him for who he really is. It talks in here about how from 1991 to 2011, over that 20-year stretch, every single statistic declined in terms of its trend except for two. In the last 20 years, more people now claim they have accepted Christ as their Savior and expect to go to heaven. That has increased from 35 percent to 40 percent.

But also during that same time, fewer folks are reading their Bible, are serving this God, are involved in community, are attending corporate times of accountability and reminder and celebration. Fewer people believe the Bible is totally accurate in all its principles, and fewer people define God as an all-knowing, all-powerful ruler. What does that tell you?

It tells you there are a lot of folks who are confused and that this idea of just being good with Jesus and checking the box with Jesus and then kind of going on and doing what you want is increasingly destroying the church, which is, because it's becoming unable to serve the world in the way God intends it to, increasingly eroding our society. That's why we're going to have some of the conversations we are next week and why I did that whole series What in the World Are You Thinking?

I received an email this week I want to share with you right now. It says, "Dear Todd, I'm sitting outside of Chipotle having a delightful paleo salad," whatever that is. Sounds old: paleontologist, but I'm sure that's not what Chipotle is serving. It says, "And a couple of age 45-plus men sitting next to me have been reliving the glory days of high school, starting as a quarterback, dating the popular girls, etcetera. Then the conversation shifts.

One of the guys brings your name up and says he has known you for about 25 years, and he has a bit of a large chip on his shoulder about Watermark. I've been on the verge of laughing and crying the whole time they've been talking, trying hard not to eavesdrop, but the general consensus that is now coming out in the conversation is that we are a touch too hard-core at Watermark. We tend to ask people who have been attending a few months to really dive in, which, of course, makes them uncomfortable, which they say, therefore, is unacceptable.

And while we are biblical in our teaching, we can be downright inappropriate in the way we ask too much too strongly of folks who hang out here. One of the men at the table was encouraged by another. 'Why don't you come over here? We teach the same Bible but in a much softer, easier to get along with way.'" She went on to say, "Todd, thanks for not seeking to be popular but for teaching God's truth for all it is." I was encouraged by that.

I responded really quickly by saying, "Hey, I pray that these dear men would find me and say something to me so I can apologize for being the messenger that I am that I'm sure gets in the way and then take another shot, gently of course, at the message." And I said, "Thank you for your encouragement" and signed it "Proverbs 15:2," which says, "The words of the wise make knowledge acceptable, but the mouths of fools spout folly."

I want to let you know there are two things I want to do. First of all, I want to speak truth, not folly. Secondly, I want to do it in a way that is acceptable. I realize just because of the way I look and the way I speak and just how I'm designed that I'm sure sometimes, as the messenger, I get in the way of the message, and I don't want to do that, but I don't want to spout folly.

If some people are not going to like me as the messenger because I'm going to be faithful to the message, so be it. I've been trying to follow the one who, because he gave a message that wasn't very popular, got nailed to a tree when he was 33 years old. So be it. But I want to make sure my speech is seasoned with salt, as it were.

Now, just to let you know that you don't attend the only community of believers that has an angry pastor, I want to show you a video clip. I'm not angry, but I am zealous for the truth. Some of you know a man by the name of John Piper. John is also a zealot. He, like me, has been around the world teaching the gospel, the good news of who Jesus Christ is, that hope has come, that God loves you and is not going to leave you alone in your darkness in a way that seems right to you but ends in the way of death.

It's funny, because often, the more darkness and death and despair and oppression there is, the more there is false gospel, the more there is this idea that "If you trust in Jesus, he'll take care of all of the darkness, despair, and death in your life, so come. And, by the way, invest in God's work here, and then that will be a means through which you will be blessed. You'll become healthier, wealthier, and wiser." That gospel is originating largely in the West.

We have to be very careful. We're not calling you to come because you're going to have something cool to write on a rock that your life is going to be better. As I said last week, we're not calling you to come and follow Jesus because your wife is going to become better-looking, you're going to lose weight, and your kids are going to become more obedient. We're calling you to follow Christ because he is God and he is worthy of your praise.

What I want to let you know is that he is a good God, and if we worshiped him and it did nothing for us except ascribe to him what he is due, we should worship him, but the amazing thing about God is when we ascribe to him what is due him, it reminds us of who he is and it lets us leave the filth we typically give ourselves to, and we begin to walk in a way that restores the glory that has been lost.

I'm going to let this little two-minute clip set me up to where I'm going today, because Jesus doesn't want you to follow him because he's going to feed your stomachs; he wants to remind you that he has come to feed your soul. Watch this.

[Video]

John Piper: I don't know what you feel about the prosperity gospel, the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, but I'll tell you what I feel about it: hatred. It is not the gospel. It is being exported from this country to Africa and Asia, selling a bill of goods to the poorest of the poor. "Believe this message. Your pigs won't die, your wife won't have miscarriages, and you'll have rings on your fingers and coats on your back."

That's coming out of America, the people who ought to be giving our money and our time and our lives; instead, selling them a bunch of crap called gospel. Here's the reason it is so horrible. When was the last time that any American, African, Asian ever said, "Jesus is all-satisfying" because you drove a BMW? Never! They'll say, "Did Jesus give you that?" "Yeah." "Well, I'll take Jesus." That's idolatry. That's not the gospel. That's elevating gifts above Giver.

I'll tell you, what makes Jesus look beautiful is when you smash your car and your little girl goes flying through the windshield and lands dead on the street, and you say, through the deepest possible pain, "God is enough. God is enough. He is good. He will take care of us. He will satisfy us. He will get us through this. He is our treasure. Whom have I in heaven but you? And on earth there's nothing that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart and my little girl may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

That makes God look glorious…as God, not as giver of cars or safety or health. Oh, how I pray that America would be purged of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel and that the Christian church would be marked by suffering for Christ. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity.

[End of video]

That's John 6. I have a friend, Bob Pine, who has a son who was born with Down syndrome. There is a group of guys who typically will go out west and teach at a little camp called Mount Hermon, and when they do, they're often told, "Come and preach your favorite passage." When Bob went to Mount Hermon, he preached from John 6, and he called his message "The Disappointing Savior."

I thought, "What an interesting title. How in the world is Jesus disappointing?" Well, he's disappointing because he doesn't typically offer what everybody wants. He's not out there looking to satisfy stomachs that are going to grow hungry again in 24 hours; he's out there to satisfy souls. You're not just a physical creature; you're a spiritual creature. So God doesn't come to meet your fleeting physical needs; he comes to meet your deeper spiritual needs.

This little message we're going to look at in John 6 today is a central and core message that we have to be deeply familiar with, because it really is definitive in getting across who this Jesus is and why so many people are willing to follow him, why in America there has been an increase in the number of folks who go, "I'm good with Jesus" but, I daresay, are not good with God and not good with truth because they're not good with the biblical Jesus. It's a redefined Jesus, and we don't want to make that mistake here.

As I told you, this world is not all about getting healthier, wealthier, and more prosperous. Sometimes you get cancer. Sometimes your children have autism. Sometimes your air conditioner goes out. Sometimes your husband dies in his sleep, as I shared with the second service happened last week to our dear friend Ann Piper who's on our staff.

While I was up here preaching the message about working our way through storms last week, I saw Gary run out of here, because we just got the call that Ann found her husband Matt dead, four weeks after she found out she has cancer, 10 hours after their air conditioner went out and he went into another room to sleep by himself where he died in his sleep at 45. Where's God in all that storm?

Well, let me just remind you what we're doing. We are working our way through these two incredibly important miracles. One is the feeding of the 5,000, and then right after that, closely associated with it, is Jesus walking on the water. This is what we've said so far. When you look at just the miracle, the main teaching of the miracle is that focusing on the problem rather than the provider always overwhelms us.

I mentioned how what overwhelms us is really no obstacle to him. He treads on troubles that would otherwise drown us. We made observation last week that being a friend of Jesus does not make us exempt from storms in this life. Jesus doesn't promise to keep us from storms but to take us through storms. He is most glorified in you when we are most satisfied in him.

Now, those are the main messages we've been looking at and the main truths we've been talking about, looking at just the miracle and what we're trying to learn. What's going to happen is starting today, there are 50 verses… It's one of the longest teachings on any miracle in the entire Bible. He's going to now teach on the feeding of the 5,000, specifically. The walking on the water and the miracle of that particular event was really just for his disciples.

"You need to know this. As you go out and care for the masses, it's not going to be easy, but I will not forget you. I will be with you. Don't think I'm not intimately aware of what's going on and that I will remind you of my greatness and I will be with you until the end." What we're going to find out now is that the people are about to track down Jesus and go, "Look. We want to follow you," because he just fed them.

So, teaching on the feeding of the 5,000. This is the primary message. Are you ready? Focusing on the provision more than the Provider is always a problem. When you focus on the provision of God, when you love the creation more than the Creator, that's always a problem. Now look. We should give a great deal of thanks when we enjoy good food and rich fellowship and beautiful facilities and beautiful days and healthy spouses and children who are with us. Enjoy it. Don't feel guilty, but don't sink your talons in it.

Don't believe that God owes you another day with any of it, because he doesn't, and he doesn't even promise it. This makes him a very disappointing Savior. I want to read to you the part we're going to focus on today. It's in John 6, verse 22, all the way through verse 40, and then we're going to walk through, we're going to teach it, we're going to find a lot that is here for us. We're going to learn something, and hopefully our hearts are going to go out of here a little bit more ready.

"The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone." The people saw that last night Jesus tell his disciples, after he fed the 5,000, "You get on the boat and go," and they saw him walk up to the mountains.

They thought there was only one boat there, and they saw that Jesus didn't get into it, but the next day, they scoured those mountains looking for Jesus, and they couldn't find him anywhere.So they deduced, "Well, somehow…we don't know how…maybe he went home." Jesus' base of operation then was about four miles away by sea on the other side of the Sea of Galilee in a place called Capernaum. So they all hightailed it to Capernaum.

What had happened, and probably by no small lot because of the great wind that was causing the disciples to struggle, a bunch of boats had blown across the lake from Tiberias, so there were a bunch of boats that were there on the east side of the lake, so they got on there.That's why that little verse is there in verse 23. "There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks." So they got in those boats and went over, and they found Jesus.

Verse 24: "So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus." You might be really excited. You're like, "Look. This crowd doesn't just want to be around Jesus; they are persistent. These are devoted followers. He was in the wilderness over there in Bethsaida, and they came to him. He basically hid from them, so they crossed this five-mile stretch of lake to find him again. They are persistent."

You might go, "This is a good thing. This is a really good thing."But you're going to find out that Jesus is not impressed, because they have the right guy, but they have the wrong goals in terms of what they want that guy to do for them. You're going to run into now about 50 verses of teaching, and he's going to say four different times, "I'm telling you the truth." He says it this way in my translation: "Truly, truly, I say to you…"

He's going to say five different times, "I am that which satisfies. Nothing else. Me. I alone satisfy. Don't look for health from me. Don't look for prosperity from me. Don't look for wealth from me. Those are provisions. Look to the Provider. Don't feel guilty if you're in the middle of a sweet season. If the creation right now is all like you want it, great, but love the Creator.

Because here's the deal: the provision is fleeting and the creation has been tainted. It is going to die. So don't fall in love with it, because when it dies, you're going to think that I died. I'm going to restore creation, and when I do and set all things right and get rid of sin and death, you will be with me forever, and you will see the glory in who I am and in all that I provide." But we aren't home yet.

Verse 25: "When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, 'Rabbi, when did You get here?'" Notice they didn't say, "How did you get here?" They kind of just blew right past that. They said, "When did you get here? Because we are a little confused." Verse 26: "Jesus answered them and said…"

First time. It comes again in verse 32, verse 47, and verse 53. He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you [I tell you the truth] , you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.""You like me because I satisfied your stomach. You don't want to follow me; you want food. You don't want to bow before me; you want bread."

Let me bring this into the modern day. How about this? "You don't want a Savior; you want more sales. You don't want a God; you want some guy to call you his girlfriend. So you're going to come track with me and, hopefully, because you're here at The Porch, you're going to get a boyfriend or because you're here and you network with some well-connected people you're going to get more sales or maybe even your marriage will turn around."

Hey, look. Your marriage might turn around, but even if it doesn't, you need to start following him. I'm going to suggest that maybe the reason your marriage is in the condition that it is is because you haven't been following him for who he really is. By the way, let me just say this really quickly. There is a sense in which health, wealth, and prosperity do follow obedience. Now careful. Here is the sense, and frankly, it answers a question I get asked all the time.

"Todd, how come so many nonbelievers have better marriages than folks who go to church all the time?" I go, "That is easy. That is an easy question." Because there are folks who don't go to church all the time who live more like believers than believers do, who love their wife with tenderness and patience and kindness, who don't seek their own interests, who prioritize their family, and whenever you do that, it is going to make relationships work.

That is why, if you're a believer and you go all the way as radical as Christ wants you to go in terms of the way you conduct yourself in relationship, that you love others the way Christ loved you in all your brokenness and rebellion, yet he initiates and extends grace and restores and offers forgiveness and cares for you and cherishes you and nourishes you and offers opportunities for reconciliation…

When you go all the way and do that with no timetable, with no complaining but just out of a pure expression of love, I'm going to tell you, it changes things. There are some people who do more of that who don't know God or follow God or honor the Scripture or go to re|engage, so their marriages are better than those who have Bibles in their house.

I say it this way. Which farmer is going to have healthier crops: the one who goes faithfully to church, tithes generously, serves willingly, but just goes out and takes the seed and fires it on the land, and then goes home and does Bible study and prays and worships and carries on, and then walks back out there in the fall for harvest, or the guy who curses God, who hates God, who's unfaithful to his wife, but who rises early, who tills the soil, who drops that seed, who builds a fence to protect that particular seed, who nourishes it and fertilizes it and cares for it?

Which one of those two farms do you think is going to be more productive in the fall? I'll tell you which one. When you do what God says to do, when you follow the laws that God has created and the way he has suggested, it does lead, typically, to prosperity. By the way, let me just say this. If God wanted to, couldn't the first farmer's farm be completely prosperous and over-the-top hundredfold in production and the guy who cursed God and did everything right, couldn't he smite that? Absolutely. Does he typically? No. No, he doesn't.

So we have to understand that there is blessing. You will reap what you sow. That is the rule. There are always exceptions to rules, and that's what makes the rule the rule. If you want to bet on the come and wait for the exception, you can do that, but I'm not going to suggest that is wisdom living. When you live according to the principles of wisdom, whether you know and honor God as the source of them or not, it will go well with you.

That is why Stephen Covey could write one of the most successful business books of all time and he doesn't know the biblical Jesus, because if you put in these seven highly effective habits, which are all wisdom habits that can be found in the Scripture, you're going to be more effective at business, whether you know God or not, as a rule. But God is not here just to increase sales and productivity. He is saying to them, basically, "I didn't come, folks, to give you bread; I am Bread. I didn't come to give healing; I am healing."

The reason, by the way, that Jesus didn't heal everyone and the reason he didn't feed everybody is because he healed some as evidence that healing can happen through him and can be found in him. That's why he offers forgiveness. And they go, "Who are you to get to forgive? Only God can forgive." He said, "You're right. What's easier to say: 'Take up your pallet and walk' or 'You're forgiven'? But so that you might know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, pick up your pallet and walk."

He did those things as a precursor to ultimate healing that will come on the day he ultimately deals with the effects of sin, but he didn't walk through the hospitals of his day and clear them out, because he wasn't here to clear out the symptom; he was here to clear out the problem. The reason death, disease, autism, broken air conditioners, and poverty are here (those are all symptoms) is because of sin.

So God has come to deal with the problem, and he goes, "You guys just want me to keep on dealing with symptoms, but I love you way too much to do that." By the way, let me ask you a question. Do you think you can build a rather large following dealing with symptoms? Let me guarantee you you can.

There are churches that have leaders who are using tricks and treats and promises of things that people want to seduce you into their control and for you to give them what it is they want in their perverted need to get more of it, because they themselves have not found the hope and life that is in God, so they want more fame, they want more riches, they want more comfort, they want more following, and the way to get that is to offer them more of what people want in their base needs instead of calling them to what God calls us to.

They are like child molesters offering kids candy, getting them to come so they can use them for their own desires. I want to tell you something. Those kids, when they're around those child molesters and are abused and they learn to hate them, they run away, but there's always another kid looking for another piece of candy, and it just keeps on going.

P.T. Barnum said, "There's a new sucker born every minute," and that is why false teachers always have full congregations, because everybody wants to know… "You tell me I just do this for God and give him this much and I'll get this much back? That's a great investment. You tell me I do this and it's going to make me this, this, this, and this and you have some stories to prove it? I'm in." That is a false and popular gospel.

Look at what we have here. Verse 27: "Do not work for the food which perishes [physical food] , but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." He goes, "In other words, that's why you see me do the things I'm doing. God set his seal on me to show you that I am his visible image. I am God."

So Jesus says to them, "Look. Physical food comes by work and is always something that fades quickly. Spiritual food comes by grace and lasts forever." You need both physical food and spiritual food, but if you don't eat physical food, you're going to have a finite end. If you don't eat spiritual food, you're going to have an infinite consequence. Physical food you get because you work. Jesus is not saying here…

By the way, if you were a homeless guy and wanted to take a verse out of context, this is your verse. "Hey, dude, I'd be out there working…" In fact, those guys who hold up little signs that say, "I need $5," and then you flip it over and their little line is "For beer, not for food. I'm not going to lie to you," and some people like it so they give it to them. How about putting this on a sign? "Hey, I'd be working, but Jesus says, 'Don't work for physical food.'"

Clearly, he's not encouraging being a sluggard. The Bible, in fact, says in 2 Thessalonians 3, "If a man doesn't work, don't feed him." In other words, let his stomach work for him. Let the hunger and the pain that comes from that irresponsible lifestyle motivate him to pick up a different strategy. Jesus is clearly not saying, "Don't work for food." What he's saying is, "You're working hard for physical food. I don't want you to do that. Instead, work to receive spiritual food."

They say in verse 28, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" This is a common question that self-righteous folks, unenlightened people, always ask. "Great. God, I want that thing that only can come by you. How do I get it? What do I have to do to get this spiritual food?" It's not going to come through what you do; it's going to come through who he is. "What are the works I must do to receive this thing?" Jesus is about to tell you. This is one of the clearest presentations of the good news of what Christ has come to do as there is in the Scripture.

Verse 29: "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.'" The very first Sunday we were in this building, I was standing right here, and a sweet lady came up to me and just was encouraged by the way a number of you had ministered to her and reached out to her. I just perceived… I thought, "I don't know if this gal understands the fullness of who Christ is and what he has done." I just said, "Let me ask you a question. Where are you in terms of your relationship with God and your peace with God?"

She says, "I'm working on it." It's an easy thing to go, "Well, I'm really encouraged. Keep working on it with us here," but what do you think I said? I said, "Hang on. What do you mean you're working on it?" She goes, "Well, you know, I'm working." I go, "No, you can't work on this." I said to her, "If I want to give you a gift, what do you have to do to receive this gift?" She goes, "Well, I have to take it." I go, "Great. Do you have to work at that or do you just have to take it?"

In fact, I do this a lot. I sometimes do this with folks who say, "I'm working on it." I go, "Great. Here. Take this from me. No, no. Sorry. I said it wrong. Try to take this from me. No, you took it. Just try to take it from me. Just try. You took it." That's very frustrating, isn't it? He's like, "What are you doing? You're humiliating me in front of all of these people." You can't try to take a gift. I'm trying to give you the gift. You either take it or you don't. There's no working on it.

I said, "Hey, the work has been done. Do you want the gift?" She said, "Well, I don't really understand that." I said, "Let me explain it to you," and I just walked her through the Scripture. I explained to her that God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. I shared with her the fact that we've been justified by faith through Jesus Christ our Lord. I talked about how there's no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

I talked about how the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ, but you have to understand that you can't get this food, this provision, this thing by working on it. You have to receive what God has brought down from heaven for you. You have to acknowledge that the gap is infinite and that the separation from him has caused infinite problems, leading to certain death, and you have to reckon him for who he is and reconcile to him through his provision, Jesus Christ.

There is no working on it. When somebody asks, "What do I have to do? What does God want?" take them to John 6:29. This is what God wants: to believe in him whom he has sent. It's as simple as that. There's nothing more. Remember, Americans, he doesn't want you just to say, "I'm good with Jesus. I'm going to heaven." Believing in John, used over 99 times, is entrusting, committing, actively engaging, following, not just being okay with the Jesus idea.

To believe in Jesus means to commit your life to him, trust your life to him, to no longer lean on your own understanding, to believe it is finished, that God's perfect provision on the cross has been paid for you and his perfect Spirit is what you want to follow desperately. So you actively wake up every day and say, "I want to lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways I want to acknowledge you, and you're going to make my paths straight."

Every time, like happens to me dozens of times a day, when I realize I'm leaning on my own understanding and not following him, I stop and I start to farm, I start to build into relationships, I start to communicate, I start to think the way he wants me to think, not so he will love me but because I know he is a lover. I believe in him who he has sent, and it's a continual repentance. We never say, "I believe in God, I believe in the Bible," and then do whatever we want. That's the purpose of part of this text.

Look at verse 30. "So they said to Him, 'What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?'" Do you see how they're missing this? "What are you going to do for us? What are you going to do to keep me around here and keep me plugging in?" You'd think they would say, "Thank you, O man who heals the lame. Thank you, O man who multiplies bread and feeds the masses. Thank you, O man who treads on the waves." But that's not what they say.

"'Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, "He gave them bread out of heaven to eat."' Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you [I tell you the truth] , it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. [And he is giving you me.] For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.'"

They're going to miss this. In John 1:5, when John was setting up the whole gospel, he said, "The light shone into the world, and the darkness did not comprehend it." It could not hold it down, and it could not grasp it. These are not spiritually appraised people, so they miss what he is saying. So they say to him, "Lord, always give us this bread." Then you're going to have the first of what is called seven "I am" statements that we're about to look at as we go through John.

It shouldn't surprise you that Jesus, the master teacher, thinks this crowd might need for him to repeat something, so four times he says, "This is the truth. I tell you the truth. Listen to me," and five times he's going to say, "I am the Bread. I am Lord and Savior. I'm not a baker and a bar maid. Free bread and circuses are what Caesar does to keep you from revolting. I am the Christ. I am your provision. Don't seek me because of your appetites. Understand that all of your appetites are satisfied in me. I'm what you're looking for. I'm the manna sent down from heaven from God." He's going to say it in some really interesting ways.

Watch this. In John 6:41 he says, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." In verse 48 he says, "I am the bread of life." In verse 51 he says, "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…" In verse 55 he says, "For My flesh is true food…" Right here in verse 35, he said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."

But they miss it. This has happened all through the gospel of John. In chapter 4… Remember that? The woman at the well. She says, "You want something to drink?" and he says to her, "If you knew who I was, you'd ask me for something to drink and you'd never thirst again." She looks at him and says, "I don't even see you have anything to draw water with." He just talks about a different well he's pulling from.

She says, "Are you greater than Jacob that you can give us water? Jacob gave us this well." Again, John 6. "Hey, Moses gave us bread." "Eat the bread I'll give to you, and you'll never hunger again. The bread Moses gave you ate, and you were hungry again. Eat this bread and you won't hunger."

Nicodemus. "Hey, Nicodemus, you can't recreate yourself the way you need to. You're flawed in your total being. You have to be born again." "Well, how in the world am I going to crawl back up into my mother's womb and be born again?" They are not spiritually appraised. So what is Jesus going to do? He's going to keep on coming at them in a loving way. He says in verses 36-40:

"But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

Let me tell you why Jesus doesn't panic, and let me tell you why I don't panic when we are faithful to the gospel and somebody doesn't respond. I'm going to give you four truths in John 6:37-40 that you might want to note, and these four truths deal with this issue. A lot of folks don't like John Calvin. They don't like this thing called Calvinism. They don't like Paul, because Paul seems to be talking about these words like election and predestination and foreknowledge. Well, don't blame Calvin and don't blame Paul. Here's your problem.

In John 6:37-40, this visible image of the invisible God is about to tell you something. Jesus is going to keep on trying to tell them the truth. He knows that when God does an efficacious work, when God does a special work of prevenient grace, when God turns on your heart and gives you eyes to see and ears to hear, you'll hear, and until then, he's going to keep loving you, he's going to keep living his life in such a way that there is no stumbling block before you, and he's going to preach the Word, and he knows it's the Spirit's job to convict of sin and righteousness and judgment. He says those words himself in John 16.

Are you ready? The first thing you need to note is in verse 37. You come because you are given by the Father. We ought to be the most humble people on the face of the planet. If you are sitting there and you're ministering to friends and you talk about spiritual things and they go, "I don't get it," and you just look at them and go, "Well, man, how come you're not as smart as me? How come you don't lie in bed at night and figure this whole thing out?

Clearly, this world is broken and perverted and destroyed, and man in his total depravity is in debt before an eternally good God, and he needs some perfect atonement that could only come from an infinitely perfect God. So God has to be triune in nature in order that he might offer that which is required of his own person without denying who he is so that he might love us and justify us in a way that does not in any way compromise his goodness.

So I believe this God was going to send his Son through a virgin in order that I might repent and understand the provision of that Son in his death and atoning work on the cross, that he was raised on the third day to show that the wages of sin, which is death, has been completely accomplished in Jesus Christ. I'm going to seek him with all my…"

You didn't sit in bed and figure that out. You heard it through the preaching of the gospel. You heard it through the study of the Scriptures and through lives of other faithful men and women. I know some of you think if the rest of hell was as smart as you, then all of hell would be in heaven, but that is just not the case. We ought to be the most humble people on the face of the earth, because according to Jesus, the reason we are spiritually appraised is because he has turned the light on.

Look at this. When he turns that light on, it says he will not cast out those who have come. You come because of the Father; you stay because you are kept by the Son. It is called eternal life, not temporary or conditional life. Now look. Some of you guys are going, "Now wait a minute, Todd. I have a problem with that. You mean to tell me there are some people who want to come who don't get to come because God doesn't turn them on?" No.

Here's what you need to understand: Nobody wants to come. Nobody wants to go and have a relationship with God. Everybody wants the symptoms to be taken care of. Everybody just wants to seek their own way, but God in his kindness and goodness allows some, who otherwise would not come, to come and for them to see what otherwise they would not see, and then when they see it, even though they're unfaithful in their keeping with it, the Son, in his perfect provision and love, keeps them and reminds them and protects them.

Look at what we have next in verse 39. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day." Death is not the end. The body will be raised. Joy will come. Jesus says, "There is going to be a day when I take care of all of the symptoms, and the reason I have not taken care of all of the symptoms yet is because I am patient toward you, wishing for none to perish but all to come to eternal life.

But if you want it all to go away right now, I'm going to be a very disappointing Savior, because I have a long view here. I will tell you that these momentary, light afflictions are providing for you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, but in the end, it's going to work out. You just have to believe me."

"Well, why should we believe you?"

"Because I walk on water, because I tell the lame to walk, because I raise the dead, and these things show you that the Father's seal is on me. I do these things to violate natural courses of things so you might know that I am the supernatural one. Trust me. Follow me."

Watch this. Verse 40: "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." Everything…our coming, our keeping, our rising, our victory over death…everything is because of the goodness, kindness, and love of our sovereign God.

In case we were going to miss this, three different times it says it…in verse 38, verse 39, and verse 40. "Because of the will of God. Because of the will of God. Because of the will of God." He loves you. He is for you. God is good. He has not forgotten you. He is the Bread of Life, and he will comfort you. We don't know why some of us are going to go through this life marked by disease. Some of us are going to go through this life with sudden death.

We don't know why different ones of us have been written into different parts in the play, but all of us have the opportunity to say, "The director is good, and in the end, he will forget none and it will be well with my soul." That is why we need to mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. It's why we need to encourage each other day after day as long as it's still called "today."

That is why when you're in a moment of prosperity and you find a brother who is not you are to take from what God has given you and care for them as a means through which some of the temporary pain would be mitigated, and that is why all of us should seek him so that we don't create our own pain through our own rebellion.

We said last week some storms come in our lives because of disobedience, some storms come even when we do obey, but God is good and kind and gracious and sovereign, and he has restored what you could never restore, and he is enough. We offer you nothing but Jesus, and he is enough. You don't need to work to receive anything from God. The work was done for you. You need to acknowledge that your works have separated you from God and that God in his infinite goodness has run to you, made provision for you, so you can come to him and enjoy him forever. That's John 6.

So you will limp to the end. You will encourage each other to the end. You will be glad in moments of prosperity, but you will use your strength, your health, your prosperity, and your wealth to serve others, because this world is not your home. We are on a tour of duty to venerate, honor, and serve our King who has come to live and die and be raised again for us, and he is enough. Let's worship him.

Father, I thank you for a chance to be together this day and to be reminded that you are more than enough. I pray that we would not look to other places and other things to find satisfaction but that we would look only to you and that folks would see us as a peculiar people who do go through seasons of hunger…hunger for more health, hunger for more companionship, hunger even for more food.

We thank you, Father, if we lack physical food to the place that it ends in physical death that haven't been reconciled to you through Christ, having received spiritual food, we will not experience spiritual death, and there will be a day when others will come to us and say, "You were not fools. In fact, you were the only ones who were spiritually appraised." Help us now to seek you and to continue to tell others that you are more than enough, amen.


About 'The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 3'

Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.