Our Lord As Bread
July 12th, 1987 @ 8:15 AM
OUR LORD AS BREAD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-12-87 8:15 a.m.
And welcome once again the throngs of you who share this hour on radio; you are a part now of the dear congregation of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Our Lord as Bread – Jesus the Bread of Heaven. It is an exposition of the central part of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, and the reading of a part of the text begins with verse 31:
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Jesus said, my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth His life unto the world,
I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and never die.
I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever: and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Bread: bread is made of grain that is crushed and ground beneath the upper and nether millstones, a sign and a symbol of the cross. And bread is baked in an oven, a sign and a symbol of the intensity of His sufferings; the bread of God, bread of heaven, Jesus our Lord.
Thus it is the purpose of God in heaven, purposed in heaven, that He suffer and die for the sins of humanity. Whatever other purpose there may have been in the creation of this world, one of the purposes of God is that He should be the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world [1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 13:8]. Whatever other purpose of God in the creation of this planet and our life, with all of its majesty and mystery, with its syllogisms of systems and suns, where every star is a burning light in the spelling of His name, whatever other purposes of God in the creation of this earth, this is one of those purposes in heaven: before the world was made, that He, our Lord, suffer and die for a lost humanity.
Our Lord did not come into this world primarily, purposely, that He be a social reformer, that He be a purveyor of the bread that perishes, that He be an example of noble citizenship or manhood, but our Lord came into this world with an announced aim and goal to die for the sins of the people. His language throughout this text is always one of sacrificial suffering and death. It is of the altar, it’s of the sacrifice, it’s of blood, it’s of atonement, it’s of the intercessory grace of God. He came from heaven and took upon Him our nature. Are any afflicted? He was afflicted. Do any weep? He wept. Are any troubled and burdened? He was troubled and burdened. Do any hurt? He hurt. Are any slandered, spit upon, despised, rejected? He was slandered and rejected. "The chastisement of our peace is upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." [Isaiah 53:1-5] That is the gospel of salvation. God does not demand twice payment for the offense. He paid it: He suffered in our stead that we might be free.
One of the most dramatic of all of the laws in the Mosaic legislation: the sinner, the sacrificial offerer, put his hands on the head of the sacrifice, identified with it, and when the sacrifice was slain, he was slain. When the blood poured out, his blood of expiation poured out. He came from heaven to be our Redeemer and Intercessor and sacrifice and Savior.
A vital and dynamic part of this text is our encouragement to appropriate Christ for our human need to eat. In this brief passage that I have not time to reiterate, I have counted seven times, seven times in those few verses where we are encouraged to eat. "That a man may eat and not die,If any man eat of this bread,Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man,Whoso eateth My flesh,He that eateth My flesh": seven times in those few verses we are invited to eat of this life-giving sacrificial death of our Lord [John 6:50-58].
However we may be, there is always in us a soul-hunger and longing for God, for heaven. "We have this treasure in these earthen vessels." [2 Corinthians 4:7] We cannot escape it. Somehow the husks from the swine’s trough and the garbage from the dog’s kennel does not satisfy the hunger of the soul. We look up to God in heaven: "Feed us, Lord, bread of life." In answer to that hunger of the soul, dissatisfied with the things of the earth, God hath provided food and drink, in the passage formally and symbolically called "manna": manna from God, manna from heaven. Each morning, every morning it was gathered fresh, it tasted like a wafer dipped in honey, and it was free. It was everywhere, it was without money and without price, and they were invited to eat and live [Exodus 16:11-31]. In the desert, in the wilderness, God gave them bread from the ovens of heaven to eat. "O taste," says the psalmist, "and see that the Lord is good"; enough and sufficient for everyone [Psalm 34:8]. And the soul’s work could be no more beautifully acceptable to God than to share in the Bread of heaven.
It is our Lord Himself: we are to feed upon Him. His doctrines, His works, His precepts, all of the wondrous things that characterized His life, how beautiful and how precious they are, and how worthily thought upon when we meditate upon the earthly ministry of our blessed Lord. But we are to feed upon Him, upon Him, Jesus Himself: meditate, fellowship, talk to, walk with the Lord Himself.
I think of that wondrous occasion of the transfiguration, when Peter, James, and John on the top of the mount there saw the Lord glorified, and on one side Elijah, and on the other side Moses, talking to the blessed and exalted Savior. And in the presence of such glory they fell down, unable to bear the heavenly sight. Then, the Bible says, Jesus touched them, put His hand upon them, and when they lifted up their faces, Moses was gone, and Elijah was gone, and they saw no one but Jesus only [Matthew 17:1-8]. That is such a parable of our devotional life before the Lord: just Jesus only.
I one time heard of a neophyte, a young preacher, who sat by the side of an old, dying saint, and in his words of comfort and consolation, the young preacher quoted 2 Timothy 1:12, and said it like this: "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him, against that day." And the old saint put his hand on the young preacher’s arm, and said, "My son, my son, this is the way it is written: ‘I know whom I have believed.’ And son, I don’t want the slightest, littlest preposition between me and my Lord. Not ‘I know in whom’; I know whom I have believed. Nothing between." To feed upon our Lord: however and awed and beside the wonder of His doctrines and His teachings and His words, our fellowship is with Him, and in Him is the life of God mediated to us. He is our all in all.
For the polluted, He is purity. For the weak, He is strength. For the faint, He is courage. For the dead, He is life: our Lord Himself, the God Man Christ Jesus. We do not worship or fellowship with a fancy, or a phantom, or a dream; we fellowship with a living Christ, Jesus our Lord.
In the Bible, in the whole of our scripture, there are two great ordinances: one in the old covenant and one in the new. In the old covenant it is the Passover. The lamb was to be eaten, all of it; no part was to be left behind, and if a family was too small to eat the whole, a neighbor was to be invited, and they share it together. All of it was to be eaten [Exodus 12:1-4]. In the fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, "Jesus our Savior is the Passover sacrificed for us" [1 Corinthians 5:7]. He is our Lamb, and we feast upon Him, all of us, the whole household; the feeblest, the youngest, the poorest, the weakest, all of us are to share in that Passover meal, and it is essential that we eat. He is not strength for us and salvation for us unless we partake, unless we share. But sharing and eating as a family, and as a people, He brings life and strength and sustenance to it. We feed upon our Lord.
In the New Testament, the ordinance is our holy and sacred Lord’s Supper. This broken bread is the communion of the flesh and body of our Lord, and this fruit of the vine that we drink is the communion, the koinonia, the fellowship, of the blood of our Lord. And sharing it with Him, we are one in faith, in hope, in love, in life, in heaven. We are identified with our Savior and our Savior is identified with us. We are His body. As Paul writes in Ephesians 5, "We are the members of His bones and of His flesh; we are His body" [Ephesians 5:30]; we. However weak and feeble we may appear before God, yet we are in Him strength, and glory, and honor, and resurrection, and immortality, and life. He looks through our eyes, He speaks with our lips, He works with our hands, He walks on our feet, And He witnesses with our words. We are one in Him.
In this feeding upon our Lord, how many times does He say that we may eat thereof and never die! "This is the Bread which comes down from heaven. If any man eat, he shall live forever; he will never, ever die." We don’t die; we just wake up in heaven, translated out of this body of mortality and corruption and death into the glorious life and liberty of Jesus our Lord.
Do you notice that in this promise of our Savior, feeding upon Him, that it carries with it, it bears with it a predetermined and predestinated embodiment? Do you notice that? An eternal embodiment – what an amazing promise! These who feast upon our Lord, who eat the Bread of heaven, are promised an eternal embodiment.
May I turn that in another way? The promise of Christ is not that we be happy ghosts, that we be wandering disembodied spirits, but the promise of Christ is that we who find refuge in Him, and feed upon Him, and believe in Him, and trust in Him, and eat this Bread of heaven, that we shall have a triumphant and glorious bodily resurrection. We will be whole and complete, as God made us in the beginning. Four times here in this passage, look at how the verse will close: "This is the Father’s will, that I should lose nothing, but raise him up at the last day" [John 6:39]. Verse 40: "This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one that believeth Me has everlasting life" – now look at it again – "and I will raise him up at the last day." Look at 44: "No man comes to Me but the Father draws him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Look at 54: "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life," and again, "and I will raise him up at the last day." God says to us that if we are disembodied spirits we are incomplete. God never made us that way. God made us to have a body, a house in which our souls abide, and when the whole purchased possession is brought before God in heaven, it will not be a disembodied spirit; it will not be a phantom; it will not be a ghost. It will be the whole personality, the spirit redeemed by the blood of the crucified One, the body in which the soul lives, redeemed by the blood of the crucified One; all of us, the whole of us, remade, exalted, resurrected, perfected, immortalized. That’s what God intends for those who find refuge and salvation in Him.
And that’s why it speaks so beautifully of our feeding upon the Lord. A dead man doesn’t need bread, a dead man doesn’t need Christ, but we do; we are alive in Him, and we need bread of heaven, and that feasting and that rejoicing and that triumphant living and that glorious resurrection is ours in the blessed and wonderful Savior.
Oh, what a gospel! And what a faith! And what a promise! And what a beautiful tomorrow God hath given us who have found our hope in Him!
And that is our invitation to you this solemn and precious morning hour. "Pastor, today, this day, I have chosen Jesus as my Lord, my hope, and my Savior, and I’m standing here with you and this family of God, joining in the praises of our precious Savior and pilgrimaging with you from earth to heaven." Or a family you, coming into the fellowship of our dear church, or answering a call of the Spirit in your heart; in the throng in that balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles: "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand." Make the decision now. In your heart, say, "Yes! Glory! Amen! Pastor, I’m coming," and a thousand times welcome as you come, while we stand and while we sing.