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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 lessons!

  1. Feeding a Big Crowd

    1. Read John 6:1-4. What was the crowd's opinion of Jesus? (It seems they are, at a minimum, curious about this healer.)

      1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

      1. Do you think Andrew passed the test? (Andrew gave Jesus a practical answer. He actually came up with some food.)

      2. 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.)

      3. Knowing what you do, what do you think is the correct answer to the test?

    3. 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.)

      1. 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 not wasteful.)

        1. What lesson do you find in the fact that any is left over? (Jesus provides enough for us.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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.)

      4. What miracle are you a part of today? How have you partnered with God in your life?

    4. 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 Messiah.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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?

  2. Bread Lessons

    1. 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.)

      1. What percentage of the Christians that you know follow Jesus because of material blessings?

      2. Would you follow Him even if you did not seem to be blessed?

      3. 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 Life.")

      4. 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?

    2. 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.)

      1. What is the work that Jesus requires of us? (To believe in Him.)

        1. Is this work? (Salvation is God's work. Our "job" is to believe.)

    1. Read John 6:30-33. As you read this dialog, do you think that Jesus and the people understood each other?

      1. 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?

      2. 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.)

      3. 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 once.)

      4. 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 life.)

        1. 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 life.)

    2. 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?

    3. 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).)

      1. 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.)

  1. The Burden of Belief

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

    4. 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 effort.)

    5. 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.

  2. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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