John 6: 35-40 (MsgB)
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with Me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen Me in action, you don’t really believe Me. Every person the Father gives Me eventually comes running to Me. And once that person is with Me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow My own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent Me. This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to Me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what My Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who He is and what He does and then aligns with Him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
So in today’s passage we find the very first of Jesus’ seven ‘I AM’ statements. If you’re familiar with John’s Gospel, you know that he intentionally begins his Jesus-story by letting it read like Genesis 1: “In the beginning…” And just as Moses identifies God’s name as the great ‘I-AM’ in Exodus 6: 2-3, so John offers his readers seven occurrences in Jesus’ ministry when our Lord clearly reveals Himself as that same great ‘I AM’ when He states…
“I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:35);
“I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12);
“I AM the Door of the Sheep”(John 10:7);
“I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11);
“I AM the Resurrection, and the Life” (John 11:25);
“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6); and
“I AM the True Vine” (John 15:1).
As we continue our Follow The Leader blog series through John’s Gospel, we will need to address each of these seven ‘I AM’s’, simply because, as I see it, we cannot address issues surrounding New Testament leadership without bringing these seven great mysteries of Christ to the forefront of our discussions.
If we, pastors/overseers/stewards of God’s people, are to be clear in the role we are to have in the church, we must clearly separate the I AM’s of Christ from the “we are’s” assigned to us by God. In other words, if Jesus is the Bread of Life, then we must be very careful then, as God’s shepherds, what we are feeding His sheep!
Jesus makes it very clear here to both His friends and His enemies that He, alone, is the Manna sent from God, given exclusively by Him to His people, in the form of His broken body and shed blood. As shepherds, we are responsible before God that His people, under our stewardship, are eating the right foods. And just as we human beings get sick and die when we eat either no food or the wrong foods, we must be very careful what plates our people are eating from as well.
Jesus said it clearly Himself that in the last days, people will demand things from their leaders that are actually harmful to their very lives. Fleshly words spoken to tickle ears, or actions given over to politically-correct standards may very well be our way of feeding the sheep the wrong foods. If Jesus, alone, is the Bread of Life, what business do we have as church overseers giving our people a diet of snack foods and sugar-filled goodies? Sure, it keeps our food-addicted population happy, but is that the true goal? Let’s be honest, men and women of God. Are you and I feeding our people Truth that is founded exclusively on Jesus’ words found the Gospels, or something much less nutritious than that?
As I see it, if Jesus is the Bread of Life, our work as shepherds is to make sure both we and our people are getting three-square meals per day of the heavenly Manna only Jesus can serve: Himself.
Hmm. Fresh Bread from Heaven. Sounds delicious. Don’t you think?
My prayer: Jesus, if indeed, You are the One and Only Bread of Life, why am I scrounging around for fast-food served from other buffet tables? If Your words and deeds are my Manna from Heaven, why would I want to go elsewhere to feed my body, mind or soul? If Your blood and body are the only nutritious foods available on planet earth, why do I feel, as a pastor, the need to add vitamin supplements for the people I shepherd? Bring me back to Your table alone, for Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: In what ways am I adding to the diet of my parishioners, supplementing the body and blood of Christ with added foods not necessary for life in Him? How can I remove myself, and the people I serve, from the buffet table of life; where we gorge ourselves with non-essentials while ignoring the body and blood of Christ as our main dish?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
Click here to go onto the next blog in the series.