Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 12/8/02
"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live" (John 5:25).
In John, Chapter Six, we read the amazing account of how Jesus fed a crowd of five thousand with only five small barley loaves and two little fish (John 6:3-12). This is one of those miracles which brings to mind Paul's statement that God, "gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17, NIV). Out of Himself, the essence of His being, God multiplied the little boy's lunch, and stretched it to be enough to feed five thousand men and however many women and children there may have been. After they had eaten their fill, the disciples, "filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten" (Vs. 13). Here is another indication that God will allow nothing to be wasted or lost (Vs. 12), neither loaves and fishes nor people.
This miracle energized the people and galvanized them into action. "They began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world" (John 6:14). Centuries before, Moses had assured the children of Israel that God would send them another prophet. As they stood on the east bank of the Jordan River, preparing to cross over into the land God had promised to Abraham, Moses reminded them of everything they had endured from the time they left Egypt, promising, ""The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren, him you shall heed, just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die'" (Deut. 18:15,16, RSV). Jesus had said, "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me" (John 14:24). By His words alone, the Jews did not make the connection that Jesus was this Prophet Moses spoke of, but they began to get it when He multiplied the loaves and fishes. Moses had fed them in the wilderness and they expected as much from the Prophet who would follow him.
By the miracles God did through Moses, the children of Israel had escaped Egypt, and Pharaoh's army which was drowned in the Red Sea. Moses led them, and fed them, showed them mercy, chastised them, and taught them about God's will for their lives. Because of his frustration at their lack of faith and constant whining, he struck the Rock at Meribah, instead of speaking to it as God had commanded, and he himself did not get to enter Canaan (Num. 20:11-12). Yet, he was enshrined in the hearts and hopes of the Children of Israel, and they looked for the day when the Prophet of whom he spoke would appear, when the Deliverer would come out of Zion (Rom. 11:26-27). Quoting Isaiah, Paul had declared, ""And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD. "And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore"" (Isaiah 59:20,21, RSV). God promised He would put the words into the Prophet's mouth that he should speak, which is exactly what Jesus said of Himself.
Because God had used Moses to lead them spiritually, physically and militarily, they expected that this latter day Prophet would likewise lead them out of the bondage they had suffered since the time of the Kings. They had been under foreign rule since the Assyrian king Shalmaneser had deported those in the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC, during the reign of Israel's king, Hoshea (II Kings 17:5-6). Later, during the reign of Zedekiah, King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon had conquered Judah, totally destroying the temple and most of Jerusalem itself by fire (II Kings 25). He carried into exile all but the poorest people of the land who were left behind to work the vineyards and fields. This was God's covenant punishment for the disobedient, faithless, and idol worshipping children of Israel. About this terrible time, the prophet Jeremiah quoted God as saying, "Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him" (Jer. 27:6, RSV). Jeremiah prophesied a 70 year captivity, and so it was that approximately 70 years after the first deportation to Babylon in 605 BC, the captives began to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and the temple of the Lord. They never became autonomous, but were continually subjected to foreign rule. Babylon was overcome by Persia, which was conquered by the Greeks, who fell subject to the Romans, which brings us to the time of Christ. In reality, Israel did not become a sovereign nation until 1948.
After Jesus fed the five thousand, John tells us, "Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself" (John 6:15, RSV). Later that evening, when He did not return, "his disciples went down to the lake (the Sea of Galilee), where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid" (John 6:16-20, NIV). We are not told why Jesus was walking on the water. Was He merely out for an evening stroll? Taking a short cut? Would He have passed on by the boat had they not seen Him? In Matthew and Mark's account, Peter called out and asked to walk on water as well. John leaves this detail out. Perhaps he felt led to share only how Jesus triumphed over the physical elements rather than Peter's lesson in faith.
In any event, when the boat carrying the Disciples and Jesus, reached Capernaum, the crowd who had followed him by boat realized that only one boat had departed the other shore, and Jesus was not in it when it cast off! Sensing another miracle, they asked Him how He got there. He never answered their question, but instead exposed their motivation for following Him: "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval" (John 6:26-27, NIV). With this statement, He reduced their righteous fervor to rubble, exposing them for what they were, hypocrites who managed to make filling their bellies a religious experience. Some churches define fellowship as eating together. They substitute having a communal meal for breaking the bread of life. The food they eat will spoil, but the food our Father gives us leads to eternal life. Notice that Jesus says of Himself, "On him, God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
Everyone looks for approval, the Pharisees more than most, but they craved the approval of men more than that of God. Jesus had said to them, "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?" (John 5:44). We all need a seal of approval, which most of us did not get in our birth family. Some are more scarred and deprived than others, but none of us really got our needs met in childhood. I think He planned it that way. If mom or dad could have satisfied our longings, what need would we have for God? Jesus knew He had His Father's approval, and beloved, we must know it as well. If, like the Pharisees, we try to get validation from men, our birth family included, we will always be deprived and starving for the bread of life. If, however, we believe the truth that God has given us, that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3); that we were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4); that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6); that we are now reconciled in his body of flesh by His death so that we are holy and blameless and irreproachable before him (Col. 1:22), then we can enter into His rest and cease from our own labors. Either these statements are true, or the Apostle Paul is a liar and the bible is a cruel hoax. Since they are true, we can crawl up on our Daddy's lap and love Him because He first loved us! "We see real love, not in the fact that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to make personal atonement for our sins" (I John 4:10, Phil.).
There are those who have such a gaping wound from childhood abuse and deprivation that they cannot begin to feel God's love for them. There is no "quick fix" no real earthly solution for these deep wounds. Only the Great Physician can love away the hurts and replace the wounded carnal nature with His New Creation. Occasionally, the old hymns we sing at Medicalodge really reach out and grab me. During the recent holiday, these words came to me as I was asking the Lord how to overcome some hurt feelings caused by a family member: "Lay aside the garments (the old ways of relating) that are stained with sin, and be washed in the blood of the Lamb. There's a fountain flowing for the soul unclean, O be washed in the blood of the Lamb." The Lord was reminding me that He has covered all my stained and painful relationships with the blood of the Lamb, and the grace of the New Covenant. I know from e-mail received that I'm not the only one who experiences discomfort when old childhood hurts are revisited during family holiday festivities. Eventually, ultimately, in His time, we know that God will wipe away all tears, so that what was finished on the cross in Spirit, will be manifested in flesh. The New Creation, the Father's manifested sons, ARE the reflection of His glory, through whom the manifold wisdom of God is displayed to the principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10). This is Paul's mission statement for the church, the ecclesia, the called out ones, the ones God has chosen to fulfill His purpose on the earth.
The Jews missed the mark of the high calling of God because they were trying to get there on their own steam. They asked Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John. 6:28-29). They were hoping perhaps, that He would give them a long list of difficult things to do by which they could get some glory for themselves. Instead, He told them to believe on Him. Again, looking to quantify the command He had given, they pressed Him further: "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat'" (John 6:30-31). No wonder Jesus called them "Blind Guides"(Matt. 23:16). I probably would have asked, "What part of feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish don't you get? If that's not a miraculous sign, what is?"
He answered, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:32-33). They still didn't get it, but made this request, "from now on give us this bread" (Vs. 34). They were operating on a strictly natural level, unable to see the bread of life who stood before them because God had blinded their eyes (John 12:40; Rom. 11:7-8). "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe" (Vs. 35-36). There are always those who want God to do a miracle so people will believe. In actual fact, as this account shows, only those people whose eyes God opens will believe. Notice here that Jesus neatly punched a hole in their self aggrandizement, their need to take credit. He said, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away" (Vs. 37).
The old hymn proclaims, "I have decided to follow Jesus," but Jesus Himself said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (John 15:16, RSV). The bad news is we can't take any credit for our decision to follow Him, but the good news is that He said of His followers, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:29, RSV). I observe that a good many Christians today operate their relationship to God exactly like the Pharisees did. The important thing for them is "What will men say of my behavior? Will they praise me or condemn me? Will I be given a bigger mansion in heaven then someone who does nothing to advance the kingdom?" Appearances clearly meant little to Jesus, who hung out with publicans and sinners. To those Pharisees who condemned Him for His dinner companions, He replied, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Matt. 21:31, RSV). This is another way to say that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). Jesus was NOT a people pleaser as so many of us are, having been taught that we must make people like us in order to lead them to Christ. He did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard the Father saying. "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day" (John 6:38-39, NIV). Dear Saints, if you find yourselves on a treadmill of works to avoid the guilt which men lay upon you when you attempt to enter rest prior to entering your casket, let the truth of this passage be a balm for your weary soul. He will lose NONE of all that the Father has given Him, and He will raise us up at the last Day. If we depend upon ourselves, we are doomed to failure, for there is nothing good in the old man. He is dead. Leave him in the coffin where he belongs and give glory "...to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing" (Jude 1:24, RSV). To be continued. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Bread of Heaven, Part II"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 12/5/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/29/08.