ONEFAMILY Outreach

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ONEFamily Outreach exists to "Connect Kids to Community and Communities to Kids."

Have you considered having a mission week for your church? This is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of Jesus Christ. Activities can include:

  • Interactive and participative praise concerts for children, youth, and families;
  • Morning staff studies on Servant Leadership
  • Soup lunches for the community with a gospel-study focusing on our scriptural call to justice;
  • In-service for your volunteers or teachers on reaching today's youth and families with the vibrant, living, message of Jesus Christ;
  • Evening parent seminar on "Significant Conversations: The 21-conversations you want to have with your child before they leave home";
  • Local networking with other groups to talk about starting a "Character-Based Mentoring Program" for at-risk youth in your area;
  • Humorous and thought-provoking assembly for local schools (secular or religious).

ONEFamily Outreach is primarily supported by trainings, workshops, retreats and concerts.


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“I Am The Living Bread”

John 6:51-58 

August 17, 2003

Proper 15b

John 6:51-58 

[Jn 6:51] “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

[52] Then the Jews began to argue with one another, 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 yourselves. [54] “He who eats 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] “He who eats 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 he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. [58] “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (NAS)

Overview

John 6:54-56

[Jn 6:54] “He who eats 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] “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (NAS)

Bread Alive

How far are we willing to go with Jesus?  This was the verse that divided those who followed Christ for a free meal and those who sought to follow the true Messiah.  After the miracle of the 5,000, everyone wanted to follow Jesus.  “Free food,” they declared, anticipating that Jesus was another Moses who was going to shower down manna and quail on his followers.

Yet, Jesus would have none of that.  The more they tried to make Jesus their worldly cafeteria manager, the tougher his sayings became.  Until he finally stated; “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

After a lifetime of hearing this statement explained theologically; it may have lost some of the original “shock” value.  Yet, the Greek statement could not be any more graphic.  The version in most of our translations is watered down substantially from the original words that actually mean “corpse” and “hemorrhage.”

Jesus was drawing a radical line in the sand with a radically pointed statement; those who were following Jesus for “the freebies” would have been disgusted with this new turn.  In fact, after he makes this statement, he loses thousands of frivolous followers.

The meaning of these words would not be lost on any of those who surrounded him.  “Are you willing to die with me?”  “Are you willing to share in the same suffering as I will experience?”  “That’s what it takes to be my follower.”

We are followers not because we attend potlucks and social gatherings that we call Christ-centered.  We are followers when we share in the body (the death) and the blood (the suffering) of our Lord.

How thin would our church membership be if we preached this bold message from the pulpit?  Would we be willing to go from a congregation of thousands to twelve solid believers?  If we call ourselves Christ-Ones do we have a choice?

John 6:51-52

[Jn 6:51] “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

[52] Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (NAS)

The living bread

Jesus never fails to identify himself as able to offer more than this world could ever supply:

1.       He is not just bread, he is bread “alive”;

[Jn 6:51] “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  (NAS)

2.       He is not just water, he is water “alive”;

[John 4:10] Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  (NAS)

3.       Yet, even more, Jesus promises us that what is alive in him will become alive in those who eat (take in or consume) him!

[John 7:38] “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “ (NAS)

[John 6:57] “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” (NAS)

When you consume Christ; he becomes part and parcel of who you are.  He energizes you to do his work. Jesus also contrasts himself with bread that molds or water that stagnates.  The bread and water of this world becomes dangerously toxic over time.  However, our Lord is fresh and new each day.

The bread of our Lord is empowering.  It not only can fill the heart, but it can also lead the recipient to overflow into actions of love.  As was said of Francis of Assisi; “It is in giving that we receive.”  By accepting the sacrifice of our Lord, we are empowered to love through the Holy Spirit and that is the cup that never empties and the bread that never molds.

Loneliness is rarely the result of not being loved; it is the result of not loving.  Sorrow is less the result of circumstances than the result of choosing isolation.  The fastest way to feel loved or experience joy is to give it to those without either.

Finally, the bread of our Lord is always just enough for the day’s journey.  He gives us exactly what we need and exactly what we can handle.  It is our lack of confidence in him that makes us ask for more.

My wife and I have found that sometimes God’s bounty is financial.  However, even more often it is a simplification of our desires as we lean more fully on him.  To be honest, there are times I consider leaving mission work to “make a better living.”  Then, God comes through with a letter or phone call from someone who found Christ because God allowed me to see him in his cell.  That is Living Bread; bread for the journey.  That is the promise of Christ.  More than just making a living, he invites us to make a life.  Therein is the difference between the bread of this world and the living bread of Christ.

“How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

There is a spirit that will never see the Lord; more like a demon that wraps itself around the heart and deadens our joy.  Its fruits are skepticism and cynicism; it is the sneer of the man who thinks all joy is folly and all love is a pretense.  It is a facade of intellectualism that cannot experience the Holy Spirit because the blossoms of the Paraclete are joy and love.

Unless a person dies to this attitude it will harden like a stone inside their heart and he/she will never be able to comprehend how Jesus can give us his “flesh to eat.”

Why we choose misery over life would be incomprehensible to me had I not also lived in such a manner for years of my own adulthood.  Now, that I have tasted the indescribable delight of our Lord’s body; I grieve for the days I did not allow myself to taste him.  The joy I denied my wife, my family, and each of those I knew is a burden.  Yet, I praise my Lord for caring for me so much that he broke my heart.  It was in that break that Jesus slipped in and now—with all my being—I plead with others to taste him.

Joy awaits when we leave behind the questioning cynicism that denies the miraculous.  Plunge instead into the living water of Christ’s authentic joy like we were being chased by mad hornets.

John 6: 53-54

[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 yourselves. [54] “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (NAS)

You have no life in yourselves 

All of life points to our God, but so does death.  All living things die, all life decays, earthly bread turns stale and mold consumes it.  This should awaken us to the truth of our Lord; “We have no life in ourselves!”  This life is on loan, it will end and all our earthly works will decay and be consumed.

This life does not belong to us and we fool ourselves if we think otherwise.  We will be held accountable for this incredible gift of life that God has lent us.

Matthew 25:26-28

[Mt 25:26] “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.  [27] ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. [28] ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’” (NAS)

The person that truly realizes that their life is a gift from God lives each day as though it is a present to be opened.  The Holy Spirit longs to help us know such ecstatic joy.  To be aware of the gift of God is to be vibrantly aware that all of life can be an opportunity to unwrap the bows of God’s greatest gift; an eternal life of meaning, love, and unity.

Eats My flesh and drinks My blood 

There has never been a greater promise in all of history.  Sadly, those who questioned Jesus on that day missed it entirely.  They did not want eternal bread; they wanted everyday bread.  They desire to grab a free meal disabled them from hearing Jesus’ invitation to the eternal.  They were tuned out to the spiritual because they wanted old covenant bread, free manna falling from the sky, food for which they didn’t have to work.

Instead of giving in to their demands for the mundane, Jesus becomes even more spiritually demanding of them; “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  

This is not symbolic language, the words translate as; “He who eats of my corpse [GSN4561 sarx]” and “drink from my hemmorhage [GSN129 haima].”  It is almost grotesque, as if he is trying to turn stomachs of those who seek only earthly bread. 

This is Jesus drawing lines, dividing his followers between those who are looking for a handout and those who will go the distance.

Quite literally, Jesus is telling us; “If you are not willing to share in my death and drink from my suffering then you should turn back now.”

How do we introduce this type of commitment into our “social club congregations” today?  So many churches deny their role of ministering to the wounded and bleeding Jesus in the form of the outcast and needy.  After Jesus preached this message to the thousands, only the twelve remained, and even they were struggling with this statement.  Would we be counted among the twelve if we were challenged to take our faith beyond what is comfortable?

“I will raise him up on the last day.”

For the truly obedient there is a great reward.  It is the promise of Jesus to “Raise us up on the last day.”

There are three words worth examining here:

1.       Jesus will raise us up [GSN450 anistemi];

Another way of translating this is that our Lord will “help us to stand” in the court of God if our obedience matches our claim that he is Lord of our life.  Without Christ we will not be able to tolerate the final day; the Day of Judgment.  However, if we share his death (body) and drink his suffering (blood); we will hear the words of Christ in the face of death; “This one’s with me!”

2.       The last [GSN2078 eschatos]

This word has two interrelated meanings; It can mean the “last day” or the “most extreme day”.  Whichever interpretation you choose, we know that the “wages of sin is death” [Ro 6:23] and someday death will demand her callous recompense.

That will be “the last day,” the “most extreme day.”  If we understood this statement in its totality; we would be pressed to offer Christ’s hand to all we meet.  We would dally a great deal less on sports scores and gossip and, instead, approach life with the fervent passion of John the Baptist, Paul, and our Lord.  There is so much to be done before “the extreme day.”  We just don’t have any time to waste!

3.       Day [GSN2250 hemera]

The people of Christ’s day divided up the day into “watches” (as in a guard who watches for an enemy).  Christ describes the last day [GSN2250 hemera] as actually the last watch of the night, from 04:00 to 06:00.

Two things stand out about the last watch.  It is the most beautiful time of the day; filled with new possibilities and the colors of the morning dawn.  Yet, it is also the most dangerous time of the day.  The time of deepest sleep when our reactions are most dulled.  It was that time of day when the enemy was most likely to attack.

Jesus will come.  His dawning will be the greatest “chemera” in history.  Yet, the dawn is going to break at an unexpected time and before it happens the enemy will have lulled many into a deep sleep.

It is sleep our enemy desires, dullness and comfort, he wants us contentedly slumbering in deep repose.  I believe we will be able to tell the time is near when those who shout; “Awake, awake the enemy is near,” are drowned out by those who shout; “Shut up, we need our beauty sleep.”

Let us not be lulled into comfortable Christianity—there is no such thing—instead let the “last watch” find us in expectation of our Lord’s dawning moment.

John 6:55-58 

[55] “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. [56] “He who eats 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 he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. [58] “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (NAS)

“I live because of the Father” 

Sometimes it is easy to miss a major biblical point because it is buried in another point that seems more illustrative.  The short statement in this teaching, “I live because of the Father,” one such statement.

The emphasis in this reading upon the living bread of Jesus can overwhelm this simple but critical point; Jesus lives because of the Father.  The word because [GSN1223 dia] means;

·         I live through the Father;

·         I live on account of the Father;

·         I live continually in the Father;

·         I live in the presence of the Father;

·         I live for the sake of the Father;

As opposed to Greek philosophy, Jesus is not stating; “Cognito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am). Instead, he is stating; “The Father willed it, therefore I exist.”

Only after we realize that we exist only because the Father willed it can we know our greatest purpose.  As long as we believe we exist for our own menial purposes or parochial wants, as long as we presume, “I am because I thought myself into being,” or, “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps,” we suffer in self-delusion.

We are vanity, a term that in Hebrew means, “dust-devils in the desert.”

Ecclesiastes 2:11

[Eccl 2:11] Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. (NAS)

Yet, at the very moment we realize that we exist because of God—indeed, because of God’s passionate love—then, we are breathing the air of heaven.  Then, and only then, is the point of our life revealed and our lives truly worth living.

When we realize we exist continually in, through, and because of the Father’s love, only then, do we truly exist.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2003 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.  This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2003 © http://onefamilyoutreach.com.

Scripture taken from God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society original work copyright © 1995.

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