There are some truths that are, well, we call them common knowledge. Things that everybody knows. It's truths that are most obvious; very plain. 2+2=4. Common knowledge. Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, or at least appears in the eastern horizon to be more accurate. That's common knowledge. Four seasons are in the year--common knowledge. It's pretty common knowledge that the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Most Americans know that. That's common knowledge. The state bird of New Mexico is the? It's common knowledge. The roadrunner.
But other truths aren't so plain, not so obvious, unless you have a knowledge that is special and apart from what others know. An example: there was an artist who had his work, original paintings, in an art gallery and he decided that he would go one day down to see if any of them sold because they hadn't been selling. Art can be expensive. Well when he went down to the art gallery and he talked to the owner, he noticed that there was none of his paintings hanging up in the gallery. Well he was puzzled and he said well what's up? Where are my paintings? And the owner said well I've got some good news and some bad news. Yesterday a man came in with an interesting question. He said is it true that works of art go up in value once the artist is dead? I thought that was an odd question. I said well yeah, that's common knowledge. When somebody dies, their artwork, if they're an artist, goes up significantly. And then the man proceeded to buy all of your paintings. Well the artist was puzzled. And the owner of the gallery said now that was the good news. The bad news is that that man was your personal doctor. So you see the doctor had some knowledge that the artist did not have. It was not common to him.
The things that Jesus shares in John chapter 6 were common, plain knowledge to Him and to His disciples who loved Him. These were truths that were understandable and loved and known. But not for the crowd that had gathered by and large. The crowd that Jesus had fed the day before. They really didn't get it and they weren't interested in some of the truths that Jesus gives in this very chapter. They were all about physical food not spiritual truth and they made that known in this conversation. But Jesus, the Master Teacher, brings out four truths beginning in verse 51 down to verse 71. That's what we want to look at today in our time together. Four important truths that, to Him and to His true followers, would be plain truths about the bread of life. They're in your outline. Here they are in order. Number one, true life will come by death. True life will come by death. That's the first plain truth. Second, true words are hard to hear. Number three, true motives will be discovered. And number four, true disciples will not leave. Those four truths are plainly brought out in this section.
Now I just can't resist this little thought that I was thinking about this week. I don't think it's insignificant that what Jesus said about Himself and where He was born are very similar. Jesus said I am the bread of life; where He was born is the town of Bethlehem, of course. The word Bethlehem comes from two Hebrew words house of bread or place of bread, because Bethlehem was the breadbasket of the ancient world. It's where the grains were grown. It's where the wheat fields were. And so isn't it significant that the bread of life came from a place called the place of bread, the house of bread? As He comes to over Himself for the life of the world. Well let's begin in verse 51 and see the first plain truth of the bread of life and that is the true life will come by death. Verse 51 Jesus is continuing: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man gives us His flesh to eat?" Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum."
Now here's Jesus in an almost shocking manner--very raw--is describing His death on the cross in this section. The sacrificial death as He would give His own body, His flesh, as it says in verse 51, for the life of the world. That's what this paragraph is talking about. Jesus is giving in months to come His own flesh sacrificially on the cross. And that is what He means by it. He's talking about the fact that He's gonna die and life will come through His death.
Now I need to say this because it's gonna be asked afterwards so I thought I'd cover it. The Roman Catholic Church, and I was brought up in that tradition, used these verses to teach a doctrine of theirs called transubstantiation which is a word that means to change substance. It is their belief, and I was taught it over and over again, that at Communion, the bread and the wine are literally transformed from one substance into another, from being bread and wine into the literal body and literal blood of Christ at the Eucharist. It was taught by Gregory of Nisus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Pascasius Radbert and a number of other writers on the subject for the Roman Catholic Church. Now I need to say that Jesus did not mean that here. In fact that whole way of thinking is totally foreign to this text. And I'll give you a few reasons why. Number one, the Lord's Supper had not yet been instituted when Jesus said what we just read. Wasn't even on the radar screen. Nobody would've understood if that's what He was referring to that He was referring to that. I mean, why would Jesus discuss Communion with a group of antagonistic unbelievers? That's number one. Number two, Jesus said, and we read it, that anyone who partakes of His body and His blood has everlasting life. If that meant Communion then that would mean that anybody who receives Communion can gain salvation. Hey I want to go to heaven. Why do I got to do? Just go take Communion and you'll have everlasting life. And that would defy the biblical doctrine of salvation that comes through grace by faith. That would be salvation by works. Number three, the verb that Jesus uses to eat and the verb Jesus uses to drink is in the Greek the tense which means a once for all, completed action. It's done. Never to be repeated. However, Communion is something that is to be observed over and over again. It is repeated. As Jesus said, do this often in remembrance of Me, when He referred to Communion. And number four, the text clearly shows that Jesus is not speaking in literal terms but in spiritual terms. In verse 63, Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." Or as the Phillips Translation puts it: the things I have told you are spiritual things. So then exactly what does Jesus mean when He says you must eat My flesh and you must drink My blood? Well all you gotta do is compare two verses that almost are the same except for one variant and you'll get the understanding. Compare verse 54 with verse 40. Verse 54 says: "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Now go back to verse 40: "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." You see that? See how similar they are? So now we have the understanding what does it mean to eat and to drink His flesh and His blood? It means to behold Christ and to believe in Him. To see Him for who He is and to place our faith unquestionably and totally in Him for our salvation. You say well why does Jesus speak of His body and blood? Simple. Because that's the price of redemption. Verse 51: I give My flesh for the life of the world. In other words, true life will come through death and that will be My death on the cross. So that is the plain truth about the bread of life. True life comes through death.
Now this truth is so plain and so precious to the Christian church that for generations, generation after generation, the songs that we sing are by and large filled with the truth of the blood of Christ and the cross upon which our salvation was procured. It seems that Christians so know this truth and so want to sing about it that it's inescapable. Here's a sampling of just some hymns. Lift High the Cross of Christ. Alas and Did My Savior Bleed. Beneath the Cross of Jesus. The Old Rugged Cross. Down at the Cross Where My Savior Died. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Nailed to the Cross for Me. Were You There When They Crucified My Lord. Over and over again the Christian church throughout history says, we get it, that this is the plain truth and we celebrate it in our songs. The true life comes through death.
But it seems that this central and precious truth isn't so plain and so obvious to some, to some churches who are wanting to drain Christianity of its very life source by draining Christianity of the blood of Christ. What I mean is there are churches who will say, well we better not preach too much about the blood of Jesus. We better not sing too many songs about the cross because that's gory and bloody and it will offend people. Charles Spurgeon, whom you know I love to quote, said this about that: there are some preachers who cannot or do not preach about the blood of Jesus Christ and I have one thing to say to you concerning them. Never go to hear them. Never go and listen to them. A ministry that does not have the blood in it is lifeless. It is a dead ministry. It is no good to anyone. And Paul the apostle would have said Amen, Charles Spurgeon! In fact, Paul wrote that first, didn't he? 1 Corinthians 1, he said the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God. So the plain truth is without the cross, there is no Christianity. That's the plain truth about the bread of life is that life comes, true life comes, through death.
Here's the second one: true words and hard to hear. Now watch this, verse 60: "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" A better translation would be: who can tolerate it? And I'll show you why in a moment. "When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" Alright, you see the word hard? This is a hard saying? It's the word scleros in Greek. If you have a medical background, you're familiar with the word. Scleros--hard. It means rough, stiff, harsh. It does not mean it's hard to understand. It means it's hard to tolerate, hard to take. If I may paraphrase, they said, this is a hard sermon to take. I don't like what I'm hearing! This is offensive. Now Jesus knew that. And look at verse 61 and 62: "Does this offend you?" He said. "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" Now what does that mean? What does that mean? Well what Jesus just said offended them and a number of things offended them. One thing He said that offended them was I came down from heaven. That offended them. I came down from heaven. Because they said wait a minute, we know your mom and dad in Nazareth! What do you mean you came down from heaven? Now He says My flesh you must eat, My blood you must drink, and that offended them. That's hard. It's intolerable. So He goes, hey, does that offend you? What if you saw the Son of Man ascend to where He was before, the very place I said I came from? Now here's what's gonna happen. In the next several months, Jesus will go to the cross and He will die on a cross. That will really offend them. He will die, He will rise, and He will ascend into heaven. That's not what they wanted. Back in verse 15 it says this crowd wanted to make Him a king by force. They wanted to make Him a politician by force. And so Jesus escaped their crowd. Jesus didn't want to be a politician. He came to go to the cross--to die on the cross. That's not what they wanted. That's why the Bible says that Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews. He did not fit their description. So, in essence, what He's saying is hey, if what I just said bothers you, wait till you see what I do next. I'm gonna go to the cross and die and rise from the dead and ascend to where I was. I'm not gonna be here for political purposes. Now I'm bringing this up to make the greater point. There are some truths that are hard to hear.
Now there's some truths that are easy to hear. There's some truths that are wonderful to hear. There's some truths that I love to preach. Whenever you preach about heaven, you know that people are gonna really find it easy to hear. Yeah--tell me more about heaven! If you preach about forgiveness, that's easy to hear. It's wonderful to hear and I love to speak about forgiveness. If you preach about grace, I love to preach about grace. I'd love to do it every week. If you preach about comfort in sorrow--easy to hear, wonderful to hear.
But then there are some truths that are hard to bear. That would even be deemed offensive if your life isn't aligned biblically. Example: to preach on hell will offend people. Some people. Doesn't offend me. I don't plan on going there. But it can be very offensive to some people. That there is a holy God who has a standard of righteousness. If you, if you preach on false doctrine, false prophets, false believers. If you admonish people toward holiness. To some that could be offensive.
But you gotta understand something. Though there were some who were offended in what Jesus said in the text that we just read, this sermon is mild compared to other sermons Jesus Himself preached. Like the one He preached to the religious leaders, the Pharisees, in Matthew chapter 23. I won't give it all to you but here's a snippet: Jesus said to them, Woe unto you scribes, Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and when he becomes one you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Ouch! That would be hard to hear if you're a religious leader. Or go back just a few weeks to the woman at the well of Samaria when our Lord said to her you've had five husbands and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now. Gee that would be hard for her to hear, don't you think? I mean, she knows that. Maybe she's trying to work her way through that and forget that past and here's a guy who knows it and brings it up again. That'd be hard to hear. Here's another example: when Paul rebukes Peter at Antioch. Now watch this. This is in Galatians chapter 2, Paul says when Peter came to Antioch I had to oppose him publicly speaking strongly against what he was doing for it was very wrong. That'd be hard, don't you think, for Peter to hear? Paul, this young upstart, rebuke him publicly? I had a guy come up to me a few weeks ago. He said you know, when I first came to hear you, I did not like you because I didn't like what you said because every message I heard from you, you're talking about being committed to Christ and totally surrendered and absolutely sold-out and I didn't like that. And I said well good, at least you got the message. Now to his own admission, he was not a committed believer at that point. He since thinks differently. But you know I've been, I've been accused in the past of getting information about people during the week. Like somebody calls me and feeds me information about their husband or something and then here I am on Sunday preaching directly to that one person. Or, and I kid you not, some guy said you know I actually thought you were following me around town, looking and seeing what I was doing during the week and then preaching about me on Sunday. Because to some people, the Spirit of God brings a level of conviction that is hard to bear.
So here's a question: what do you do when there's a message that isn't so easy to hear that is hard to bear? Quick and easy answer--be open to it. Be open. 1 Thessalonians 5: We exhort brethren warn those who are unruly. That's a military term--unruly. It means to be out of rank or disorderly or insubordinate. From time to time, I discover in my own life that I'm out of rank and I'm insubordinate and I'm not walking properly and I read something or hear something in a message, it gives me right back where I need to be. That's why I need to be open to it. Because we're not perfect people and sometimes our parents would stroke our hair and say good boy, it's ok. But not always. Sometimes I've felt the same hand on the backside in a firmer manner than the stroke on the hair. That also demonstrated their love.
Here's an example. Years ago on the radio there was a guy named Ted Malone. He had a radio program. He was the storyteller on the radio and a poet. People loved him. Well there was one sheepherder out in the backwaters of Idaho who said, he wrote a letter and said, Mr. Malone, would you mind on one of your broadcasts striking the note A, like A on the piano, so I can hear it? He said I have a violin but I'm not close to a piano. I can't tune it. I love playing my violin. There's no way that I can tune my instrument. Now this is before the modern age. Today there's a tuner on your iPhone--an app for 99 cents. This is way before that. So Mr. Malone obliged him and played the note A, recorded it, broadcast it over the airwaves. Two weeks later he got a letter from the same shepherd saying thank you. Now I'm in tune. Now that is exactly what hard words can do. They get us back in tune. They recapture the missing note. And I find that all God's people need it. So true life will come by death. True words are hard to hear.
Here's the third plain truth: true motives will be discovered. Verse 64 Jesus continues: "But there are some of you," now He's talking to disciples generically, not the twelve particularly, but disciples generically in that large crowd, "there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." Now watch this. Verse 66: "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." That's a frightening verse. And if you skip down to verse 70: "Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve"? Now He's speaking to the twelve, not the crowd of disciples, the twelve, "and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve."
Think about the word disciple. It appears in our text. It said some of the disciples in verse 66 said this is a hard saying and Jesus said to some of them, disciples, you don't believe. Now here's what you need to know about the word disciple. When you see the word, it doesn't necessarily imply somebody who believes in Jesus because the word disciple, in Greek, is mathete, it simply means a student, a learner, a student who would attach himself or herself to a teacher for whatever reason. I'm interested in what this teacher has to say. I'm the student. I'm the pupil. I'm being mentored by that person. It says nothing about motive, nothing about devotion, nothing about love, nothing about belief. It's just somebody who is attracted to a teacher.
Now in verse 66, when it talks about disciples of Jesus, it's speaking about people in that crowd who were interested, attracted, in Jesus because He could do miracles. We have already seen and belabored that point in past studies. And this is how it would work. Every time Jesus did a miracle, His ratings went up. Every time Jesus gave a sermon, His ratings went down. They loved His works. They hated His words. Did a miracle? Up. Said something? Down. You know that's the, that's the thing about Christmas that I think about every year. You know why the world tolerates Christmas and even loves Jesus in a manger? Yeah. It's like take Him and put Him back in the manger where He can't say anything. Because when He grows up and makes demands and commands, He is intolerable to most people--many people. They loved His works; they did not like His words. They were thrill seekers; they were not truth seekers. They did not follow His teachings and when He started teaching things and what they heard was tough, they're done with Him. They wanted a political ruler, a king who would deliver them from Rome's bondage, but He didn't come for that. What they wanted He would not give and what He offered they would not receive. Ok.
Sometimes true motives are discovered as a person backslides into a former way of life. It's a shock when that happens to some of us. It's a shock because man, they were here, they were singing songs alongside of us, they were carrying their Bible. In fact, some of them carry big, huge Bibles that you gotta put in a wagon, they're so big and you're thinking, man, that guy's so spiritual! He can't even lift that Bible! They may even be on staff at a church. They may even be on pastoral staff. You ever think about Judas? Judas was on staff with Jesus. Man, he was one of the twelve closest disciples, apostles. Jesus said one of you is a devil and He's referring to Judas Iscariot. I want you to listen to what John writes not here but in another book he writes, 1 John chapter 2 verse 19, the same author says this: they went out from us but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their going out showed that none of them belonged to us. Did you get that? Their heart was eventually discovered. Their motive was eventually discovered. True motives will be discovered. Not always here. Not always here. That's sometimes. At other times, people are so good at bluffing it, it will not be known until eternity when they stand before God Himself that that person was a hypocrite. And here's why. We don't always see it because no human can ever fully see into another human's heart. Only God can. And Jeremiah said in chapter 11 of his book, O Lord, You examine the deepest thoughts and the hearts and the minds. Hebrews chapter 4, the author says nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all. See hypocrisy is like this terribly insidious disease that is only waiting for the day of exposure. And sometimes the day is here and sometimes the day is there--on the other side.
There was a man who left church one Sunday after the sermon and he's going out to the car and he's grumbling about the sermon. He didn't like it. Maybe it was one of those hard word sermons. He's grumbling about the sermon, gets in the car, grumbles about the sermon, then he grumbles about the traffic he has to put up with, then he grumbles because the day is so hot. Then he goes home and his wife serves him lunch and he grumbles about the food and then he says to his family, well let's pray before the meal. Now his little son's watching this. You can imagine what a little boy is thinking especially when his father bows his head. He goes Lord, thank You for today. Thank You for the message and thank You for this food. And then said Amen. So the little boy said Daddy, excuse me, but when you were fussing about the sermon and the day and the traffic, did God hear that? Well now the father's embarrassed. He goes, well, yeah. And then the little boy said and when you thanked God for the food and the day and the sermon, did God hear that? And he said yes God heard that. And so the little boy would naturally ask this question: then Dad which of those did God believe? Which of those did God... who's the real you, Dad?
Let's go to the fourth and final truth, plain truth from the bread of life, and that is that true disciples will not leave. Now a group of disciples decided we're done, He's speaking hard words to us, we don't like His demands, He's not giving us manna, He's not giving us the miracles we wanted, these aren't our expectations--we're done. So He turns the twelve now, from the majority to the minority. Verse 76: "Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him," so glad it was Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." I'm so glad Peter answered this question, you know why? Because Peter always gets a bad rap, bad press, from people and preachers. I'm convinced in heaven there's gonna be a long line of preachers waiting to apologize to Peter for all the dumb things they said and I'll be in that line because I've said them, too. But I notice that when Jesus asked questions to His disciples, Peter has the answer. The other guys are kinda looking around and going, uh... I don't know. An example: Caesarea Philippi, who do men say that I am? And they all answer differently. Then Jesus said who do you say that I am? And it was Peter who said You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And he says as much here. Peter answered. Peter's answer reveals the true heart of a disciple, true marks of a true disciple. Mark number one: devotion. Devotion, loyalty. He says to whom shall we go? A true disciple sees leaving Jesus Christ as something unthinkable. Unthinkable. Where else are we gonna go? Now the reason that Peter is so devoted and so dedicated is no other person in Peter's life, no other prophet, no Pharisee, has ever done for him what Jesus did for him. His life changed since he met Jesus. Where else are we gonna go?
Would you ever go back to your former way of life before Christ? Does that ever cross your mind? You know, because sometimes the devil will tempt new believers and he'll say, remember what it was like before this whole religious thing? Remember that? Remember how many friends you had? Remember how much fun you had? And you go yeah! I did have fun! I did have friends! And you know what that's called? It's called selective memory disorder because for some reason, when the devil brings that up, he doesn't want you to remember all the times you woke up so lonely, so filled without any kind of meaning or any kind of purpose, and you were crying out for help and crying out... he doesn't want to remind you of that. Peter said where else am I gonna go? That's mark number one: devotion.
Mark number two: satisfaction. Of a true disciple--satisfaction. He says You have the words of eternal life. Now here's the very words that some were saying we can't tolerate. Not a true disciple. A true disciple will go that's life! These are the words of eternal life. Peter is fulfilled when Jesus spoke. The Greeks used to say that a man will always be unsatisfied with human food once he's tasted the nectar of the gods. After I came to Christ my old life seemed so flat and boring and insipid and dull. And when I had been walking with Christ for the first few months and I was just starting to get like, well this is like awesome, this is like a natural high, and somebody said hey man, why are you into that? Come back and do this kind of stuff again. I thought why would I ever go back to ramen noodles now that I have steak and lobster? That is so unsatisfying. You, Lord, have the words of eternal life.
And here's the third mark of a true disciple: conviction. Conviction. Look what Peter says in that final little verse, in verse 68, or verse 69: "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Is that an arrogant statement? You know it would be considered arrogant if he were to today, living, standing up in a public forum, for him to say I believe and I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You know what people would say to him, don't you? They'd say Peter, there's a lot of people in this crowd that don't hold your convictions. They believe in a lot of other things. You can't say that! Well if it's true Peter can say it. And that's why Peter said it. Peter said it not because he was arrogant but because he had encountered Christ. And Jesus changed him and he knew what he was talking about.
The reason many people lack this kind of conviction concerning Christ is they've never met Him. It's funny how much a person can be an expert about Jesus Christ and an expert about Christianity and they've never met Christ. Well you know many Christians just think this and that and this and that and this Jesus really was... and they go on. They're like these experts--they've never met Him. It's sort of like a kid. You show them a meal and they say, I, I, I don't want that. I hate that! Well have you ever tried it? No. I just know that I hate it. And I've never tried it because I hate it. Well, wait, wait, wait. You can't say you hate it unless you've tried it. True disciples not only try it, they feast and they would say those very words that would offend some, they're life to me. The words of eternal life.
Now something about food as we close. Food, to have any value, has to be? Eaten. What if you just look at it and go that's marvelous. This lunch looks really good. But you never eat it. Then it will do you no good. So food, to have any value, must be number two, you have to be hungry before you eat it. If you walk out of a restaurant and somebody offers you food, chances are you won't eat it because you've been eating something else. You have to be hungry before you partake of this bread.
Number three, you have to do it personally. Nobody can do it for you. You can never say I'm so hungry, would you mind eating my lunch? Because you don't get nourishment by proxy. And nobody gets into heaven or gets saved by proxy. You can't grab onto somebody's coattails and because my parents believed, I must be a Christian. Doesn't matter if your parents believed. You have to believe. You have to come. You have to partake.