John

Bread of Life

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What did Jesus mean when he referred to himself as the “bread of life”? The Jews really had a difficult time with that analogy, and for those who don’t understand today, it can be just as confusing. In John, chapter 6 verse 27, Jesus tells them, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” Then later in verses 47 through 50 he says:

“Very truly I tell you , the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

I believe that Jesus uses the bread analogy partially because the Jews were in the midst of discussing the manna that God sent in Moses’ day. Jesus uses that analogy to explain to them that any bread earth can provide is temporary. It may even spoil if we don’t eat it in a timely manner. But Jesus, being the “bread of life”, gives those who partake of him, eternal life. His flesh for bread, and his blood for drink may sound strange to those who don’t understand. But to those of us who do; to those of us who have accepted and have partaken of Jesus’ gift to us, the flesh and blood that he is talking about means our very salvation. If you are new to the Bible, don’t get tripped up with this analogy like the Jews did. Simply put, bread on earth only sustains life on earth. But Jesus will sustain us forever if we believe in him and accept his gift to us.

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Jesus told his listeners that he is the bread of life. He said that if we eat, or partake, of him, we will live forever. When Jesus died, it was the act of his body being broken and the spilling of his blood that covered our sins, giving us eternal life. When his righteousness covers our unrighteousness, we can stand in the presence of a holy God. So I encourage you, if you haven’t already, partake of Jesus, the bread of life. If you do, you will live forever in heaven with God. But if you don’t, you will experience eternal death, or eternal damnation, in hell separated from God forever.

Eternal Life

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When you think of “eternal life”, what comes to your mind? Are you thinking of a place where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more fear? Are you thinking of a place filled with angels and other majestic beings that are difficult to imagine? Does your mind show you our God in all his majesty with Jesus sitting at his right hand? What do you think of? Though these things may ring true in eternity, Jesus tells us in John chapter 17 verse 3 what we should focus on when we think of eternity in heaven. He says:

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I believe that heaven is more than just a place, it is more than what we’ll see, it’s more than what we’ll have and more than what we’ll no longer have to deal with. It is a relationship with God that we’ve never experienced this side of heaven. Jesus says that eternal life is that we may know God and that we may know Jesus. Though we may think we know God now, our understanding of him is like looking through a dark, dirty window. We have an idea of who he is, but there is only so much we can know of, and about, him while we live here on earth. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to being closer to God than I’ve ever been, knowing him in a way that I’ve never known, and worshipping him in ways that I can’t even imagine. That is the heaven I’m looking forward to, and that is the heaven I believe Jesus is describing in John 17.

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The Bible only gives us hints of what we can look forward to when we die. We have an idea of what both believers will experience and what unbelievers will experience, but as Jesus explains, for those who will have their names written in the book of life, our eternity will mean to “know” him. I don’t think we can truly understand what an amazing reward that will be. I would guess that all other things, or experiences, we will have in heaven will pale in comparison to knowing God. In fact, I’m sure that none of it will matter aside from knowing him. So I would challenge you, if your thoughts on eternal life differ from the one Jesus laid out, I hope you will realign your thinking to what truly matters both in this life and certainly in our eternal life, which is knowing him.

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True Disciples

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A disciple is defined as a follower or student of a teacher. Would you consider yourself to be a disciple of Jesus? Would you say that you are a follower or a student of his teachings? If you are, then you would, indeed, be a disciple of Christ. Jesus puts it this way in John, chapter 8 verses 31 and 32:

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

Jesus not only calls us to believe in him, he also wants us to be followers of his teaching; or his disciples. Being a disciple is a life-long journey. We need to continue to remind ourselves of his teachings by reading his word, attending events that highlight his word such as church, Bible study and prayer gatherings and pray that the Holy Spirit help us to discern his word. And as we learn about his word, we need to do what it says. In doing so, we become a student of his teaching; we become a follower of Christ. When Jesus went to be with the Father, he sent us the Holy Spirit to help us on our journey. I encourage you not to try to live out the Christian walk on your own. We need the Holy Spirit to help us along the way. He will help us live out what we learn. Trying to do it in our flesh will always end in failure. But walking in step with the Spirit will help us live out the truth. And as Jesus puts it, the truth will set us free.

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Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I encourage you to be a student of Jesus’ teaching. Continue to flood your mind with the teachings of the Bible, and do what it says. Make it your life’s mission to become more and more like Jesus. If you do, you will see the world more clearly. You will see the world through his eyes. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

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Not of This World

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When Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17, he made a point of saying that they are “not of this world”. If we call ourselves Christians, we should also be of the mindset that we’re just visiting here on earth. This is not our permanent home. In John 17 verses 14 and 15, Jesus says:

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

If we are truly not of this world, we should probably act like it. If you’re visiting someplace, you won’t let yourself get too comfortable because you realize that at some point you will be returning home. In fact, Jesus tells us that when we are here on earth, we are in hostile territory. He tells us that the world hates us and he prays that God will protect us from the evil one. So, as a fellow brother in Christ, I encourage you to remember where you came from, or more accurately, where you’ll be returning to. We need to take on the likeness and characteristics of our Father so that when we return, he’ll have no trouble recognizing us and we’ll have no trouble settling into our real home with our eternal family.

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Jesus prayed for his disciples, saying that they are not of the world any more than he is of the world. And like the disciples, if we are not of this world, we should act like it. If we truly follow the ways of Jesus, we will not be accepted because as Jesus puts it, the world hates us. The world can be alluring to our flesh, or our sin-nature. Even still, we should always remember who we belong to; that this world is temporary, and that we will some day return home. That should give us a bit of added strength and incentive to act as foreigners on this earth. After all, if Jesus prays for us like he prayed for his disciples, we know that even though he is not praying for God to take us out of the world, he is praying that God protect us from the evil one.

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God So Loved

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Every once in a while, I like to reflect on the core message of the Bible; the fact that over 2000 years ago, God sent his son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, to teach us how to live and to ultimately die so that sinners like us might live for eternity in heaven. And of course, three days later he rose from the grave, as only the true Son of God could, and now sits at the right hand of the Father. The entire Christian faith rests on these truths, and if we don’t believe, we will go to hell - not heaven - when we die. It doesn’t matter how good we think we are, we will go to hell without Jesus’ blood. And it doesn’t matter how bad we’ve been, with the blood of Jesus we can enter heaven. John 3:16-17 says this:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Many believers have committed that scripture to memory. It is that important. I encourage you to memorize it as well and think on it often. It is this truth that saves us. If you are reading this and have not committed your life to Jesus, I encourage you to do it today. I’ll always remember the simple ABCs of committing one’s life to Christ. A: Admit that you are a sinner. B: Believe that Jesus died for you on the cross. And C: Confess your sins to him and repent from them. Yes, when boiled down it is that simple. But it is also more complicated. If it weren’t, the Bible would be a pamphlet, not a book. If you don’t know Jesus, I encourage you not to go to bed tonight before giving serious thought to this decision which will ultimately decide your eternity.

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Christianity comes down to faith. Do you believe that God sent his son to die for your sins? Do you believe that there is a place called heaven and hell, and without Jesus’ blood to cover your sin you will not find entrance into heaven? None of us are righteous enough to get into heaven on our own; absolutely no one. We all need Jesus. If we don’t choose him, by default, we’re choosing hell. I pray that you choose him if you haven’t already. This is no joke. When you die, and we all will die, you’ll realize that heaven and hell are more real than this earthly life that we’re experiencing right now. I hope to see you in heaven. I have every intention of having my name written in the book of life, and I hope you do too.