Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life’
© May 27, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on September 13, 2015
Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #14: Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart
Offering & Prayer: Hymn #572 Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #632: God’s Redeeming Love (John 3 & 1John 4)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with The Bread of Life’
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church Praise and Worship Service. Remember this Wednesday is our “All For One Fundraiser,” featuring the music of Cold Water Roots, takes place during the BLCF Café Community Dinner. All proceeds from the concert go to feeding the homeless and marginalized at the café. The dinner does not benefit from any government or corporate help or support.
Speaking of feeding the hungry, our lesson today will give us a chance to examine how to ‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life.’
When we look at today’s two key Scripture verses, which are Exodus 17:1-7 and John 6:22-59, we see two accounts of the People of Israel not only dissatisfied with their lot, actually grumbling about it. I suppose the message could have been given the title: “A Tale of Two Grumblers.” Still, grumbling and quarreling happen amongst members of His Church, though it is not reflective of the Spirit of God.
The first account, from Exodus 17, concerns Moses as prophet and leader of the People of Israel, as he has to deal with not just their complaints of thirst, but also their demands to be provided with water, Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):
Water from the Rock
17 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The People of Israel not only grumbled against Moses (Exodus 17:3), they questioned Moses about the presence of God (Exodus 17:7).
It seems that the People of Israel had lost their faith, in spite of all the miracles of God that they had witnessed, including the 10 Plagues of Egypt, the Pillar of Fire, the parting of the Red Sea, and the manna God sent from heaven to feed them.
Rather than honouring God by prayer and trusting Him in faith, the people began to quarrel with Moses and questioned the presence of God in their midst.
We see that God provided for the needs of His people (Israel), by providing manna to eat and water from the rock at (Mount) Horeb. In honour of the bickering Moses received from his people, he named the place “Massah and Meribah”, the respective meaning of Massah being testing and Meribah being quarreling, as the people had quarreled with Moses and they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Our second Scripture verse, John 6:22-59, gives us of another account of grumbling and testing by God’s Chosen People, found in John 6:22-59 (ESV):
I Am the Bread of Life
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[a] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus[b] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Following the miracle that Jesus had performed, where he multiplied the bread and fish to feed the gathered multitude, a crowd had followed the Lord to Capernaum. Like their forefathers, these Jews sought not because of the miracles performed by God’s supernatural power, but because they hungered for more bread, as we see in John 6:26-27 (ESV):
26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Jesus uses his understanding that the crowds have followed him to Capernaum because of hunger for food, rather than to satisfy their spiritual hunger, which is more important.
Jesus speaks of God’s desire to fill his children’s need for the Spiritual sustenance through Jesus, who is described as being “the Bread of Life.”
And like their forefathers, the Jews grumbled. They grumbled about Jesus (John 6:41), refusing to believe or to have faith in the Lord being the true manifestation of the “Bread of Life.” Jesus continues to explain that the only path to God’s salvation and grace is by faith in Jesus as the Son of God, (John 6:55-57).
The anxiety that People of Israel exhibited in Exodus 17 and by their descendants, the Jews, in John 6, were hunger of a worldly and physical nature, for water and bread, respectively. Along with their hunger and thirst, came an anxiety that demonstrated a lack of faith in God. Even after being fed, they would eventually die when their physical lives reached their end, (John 6:58-59).
Those who believed and ate from the eternal bread and water that Christ offered would not die, but live forever, (John 6:53-57).
At times, we often see a similar reaction among guests and some volunteers at the BLCF Café Community Dinner. Over the last ten years of its existence, the BLCF Café has hosted a minimum of 100 guests a night, served by 15 to 20 volunteers. Multiply that number by 52 weeks per year and 10 years, we see that we have a conservative estimate of over 62,000 people attending the dinner.
But, it is not the free dinner or bags of bread being the point of the exercise, any more than the feeding fish and bread to the multitude gathered to hear Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Unfortunately, some of our guests and volunteers see the BLCF Café strictly as serving food to hungry people. The prime reason for the dinner is to serve the good news message found in the Gospel of Christ, Jesus.
The importance of nourishing the Spirit should be a greater priority than the feeding the body. Regardless of how much food we serve, unless the Lord returns, we should expect to eventually die. When our guests consume the Spiritual nourishment that comes from Christ’s sacrifice, we may expect the reward of our own forgiveness from the judgment of our sins; our own resurrection from the grave; and our ascension to join the Lord in heaven.
If we grumble and complain amongst ourselves, we are not demonstrating to the world a love and joy that comes from faith in the Lord to believers in the Resurrected Christ. Rather than complaining and grumbling, we should always rejoice in the Lord as seen in Philippians 4:4-8, which is printed on the back of today’s bulletin:
Rejoice in the Lord always
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
This expression of prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and joy leads to a peace which surpasses all understanding. Our focus should be on the positive aspects of a faith which is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Seeking these is characteristic of the pursuit of righteousness, which we should be the focus of our attention and which leads us no room for us to grumble. By seeking them, we follow a righteous path and are promised to receive the Lord’s blessing:
Matthew 5:6 and 11 (ESV)
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Let our hunger and thirst be of a righteous in nature, for in this pursuit we cannot find fault in others, as such grumbling is not an expression of Christ-like love and an acknowledgement of the joy that comes from grace of God, by allowing Jesus to be our Lord, Saviour, an example in how we treat others.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King
Benediction – (Romans 15:5): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.