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Sabbath School Lessons on John
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: The Sacred and the Common *
Introduction: One of the blessings of Bible study is that the Bible
is not like any other book. It is like an onion, the teachings of
Jesus have many layers. Bread is simple food. But Jesus, in sharing
bread has a multi-layered spiritual lesson for His listeners and for
us. Let's jump into our study this week and consume our bread
- Feeding a Big Crowd
- Read John 6:1-4. What was the crowd's opinion of Jesus?
(It seems they are, at a minimum, curious about this
- We are given two facts dealing with geography and
time. What significance do they have? (Jesus is back
in Galilee where he grew up and the local leaders are
not hostile. We will later understand the importance
of the note that Passover is near.)
- Read John 6:5-8. Jesus is testing His disciples. Do you
think Philip passed the test? (Philip gave Jesus a
theoretical answer. However, Jesus sent him in the
direction of theory by asking him about buying bread.)
- Do you think Andrew passed the test? (Andrew gave
Jesus a practical answer. He actually came up with
- Which one got a higher score on the test? (One had
theory, one had works. Neither grasped the correct
answer; the answer Jesus had in mind.)
- Knowing what you do, what do you think is the correct
answer to the test?
- Read John 6:10-13. What answer should Philip and Andrew
have given Jesus? (Why buy bread? God provides the power
for plants to germinate and grow. It is a small matter
for Him to create bread.)
- What lesson do you find in the fact that twelve
baskets were left over? (It shows the influence of
the human partnership. If Jesus had 14 disciples,
there probably would have been 14 baskets left over.
Gathering the "left overs" also shows that Jesus was
- What lesson do you find in the fact that any is
left over? (Jesus provides enough for us.)
- While Jesus was creating food, why not create caviar?
How about something a little more exciting than fish
and bread? (It was what the common people normally
ate. This gives us an insight into our relationship
with God. He supplies what is adequate for support,
not necessarily what is luxurious.)
- Our lesson has a fabulous question that you must not
miss. Why didn't Jesus miraculously distribute the
food too? As long as He is miraculously making it,
why not complete the miracle with a supernatural
delivery system? (Again, this reinforces the
importance of the human partnership in God's work.)
- What miracle are you a part of today? How have you
partnered with God in your life?
- Read John 6:14-15. What lesson did the people learn from
this miracle? (They wanted to make Jesus King. The good
news is that they are getting the message that He is the
- Was it the lesson Jesus had in mind? (As we will see
next, Jesus wanted them to focus on the spiritual,
and not on the earthly.)
- Why did they miss Jesus' lesson? (They were looking
for a Messiah who would bring them success on earth
against the Romans. They were looking down, not up.)
- Jesus was very popular at this time. Was the intent
of the people to make Him King a temptation? Would it
be a temptation for you?
- Bread Lessons
- Let's skip down because I want to keep on our bread theme.
Read John 6:25-27. Why were the people following Jesus?
(Because He gave them food.)
- What percentage of the Christians that you know
follow Jesus because of material blessings?
- Would you follow Him even if you did not seem to be
- If Jesus did not want the people to follow Him
because of material blessings, why did He feed them?
(He fed them because He wanted to bring their minds
around to the spiritual lesson - the "Bread of
- Notice that Jesus calls on the people to "work ...
for food that endures." Is salvation a matter of
works? If not, what did Jesus mean?
- Read John 6:28-29. Did the people believe that they had to
work for their salvation (Yes. They just wanted to know
what work was required. Just name the task so they could
get on it.)
- What is the work that Jesus requires of us? (To
believe in Him.)
- Is this work? (Salvation is God's work. Our
"job" is to believe.)
- Read John 6:30-33. As you read this dialog, do you think
that Jesus and the people understood each other?
- It seems to me the people thought, "Okay, my job is
to believe. Why should I believe?" What would you say
in response if you were Jesus?
- Why didn't Jesus say, "You morons. Weren't you paying
attention in vv. 10-13? I just performed a bread
miracle for you! You ate." (He wanted to take their
attention off food.)
- The people bring Moses and manna into this
discussion. Is Jesus' miracle of feeding the 5,000
like the miracle of the manna? (I think this is the
point the people are making. Manna came every day
(except Sabbath). Jesus, in comparison, just fed them
- Has Jesus done more or less than Moses? What is
Jesus' counterpoint about the bread of life? (Jesus
indicates that the same power that provided the manna
provided Him. Manna gives temporal life. Jesus gives
life eternal. He may have fed them real bread just
once, but bread gives life and He is offering eternal
- Why does Jesus call Himself bread? How exciting
is a loaf of bread? Why would Jesus want to
equate Himself with bread of all things? (The
key is verse 33. Bread gives life. Jesus says "I
am the bread from heaven because I give you
- Read John 6:34-35. When Jesus says that those who come to
Him will never be hungry or thirsty, is He speaking in
spiritual terms, practical terms, or both?
- Remember that I told you I would get back to John 6:4
which says, "The Jewish Passover Feast was near." Now
tell me why you think John put that note in at the
beginning of this chapter? (This discussion of bread is
part of the communion theme. Recall ( Luke 22:13-20)Jesus
and His disciples were celebrating Passover when Jesus
used it to institute the Lord's Supper (Communion).)
- Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. How do you logically
tie together Passover, bread and Communion? (1.
Passover: In the struggle against Egyptian bondage,
Passover celebrated the protection of the first born
from the angel of death. A lamb was slain and eaten.
The blood of the lamb painted on the doorpost was a
sign for the angel to pass by without harming the
firstborn. (Exodus 12) Passover was a symbol of the
coming sacrifice of Jesus in the struggle against the
bondage of sin and death. 2. Bread: Jesus taught us
in John 6 that He gives us life, just as bread gives
us life. 3. Communion: Put Passover and Bread
together and you have Communion which reminds us of
Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf. Communion fuses
together the Passover idea that Jesus' shed blood
protects us from eternal death and the idea that
Jesus broken body (illustrated by broken bread) gives
us eternal life.)
- The Burden of Belief
- Read John 6:41-42. What was getting in the way of the
people believing in Jesus? (The fact that they knew Jesus
when He was growing up caused them to doubt that He came
from heaven. This is a continuation of the problem of
looking at the practical and not the spiritual.)
- Read John 6:53-54, 60. Why would the disciples think this
lesson from Jesus was hard? (The simply did not understand
what Jesus meant at the time. Even now we have to think
about the meaning of this.)
- Read John 6:61-65. What is the solution to hard to
understand lessons in the Bible?(These difficult teachings
of Jesus can only be understood with the aid of God. He
"enables" us to understand.)
- Read John 6:66. Why did "many" of Jesus' disciples turn
away? (Two reasons: First, they wanted to make Him king.
They wanted Him to provide them with earthly blessings.
The wanted a paradise here on earth. Jesus had made clear
that He had spiritual, not earthly goals. Second, they did
not understand Him and they did not want to make the
- Friend, how about you? Do you follow Jesus because you
hope for earthly blessings? Or, do you follow Him because
He is God? Must things be obvious to you, or are you
willing to make the effort to "un-peel the onion," to
study to understand Jesus' teachings? I invite you today
to follow Him because He is God and to spend the time to
study His words.
- Next Week: The Good Shepherd.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.