Title: SPIRITUAL SPECTATOR, OR SPIRITUALLY HUNGRY?
Text: John 6:1-71
Each of us who have made the spiritual journey can recognize the struggle of those who try to truly believe, but cannot. The crossing over mark of true belief comes at that point when you are tired of your spiritual emptiness, recognize the seriousness of your sin, and long for a renewed life. Some weep and walk away (like the young rich ruler), and others fall down on their knees and beg for mercy (like the Philippian jailer).
Thus we come to the age-old conflict of the Jew’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. This began in chapter 5 (v.16), and is continued in Galilee in our text tonight. This conflict still exists today. The conflict confronts the heart of every man…do you want to watch from the sidelines, or do you want to suit up and join the team? Read Text. Those who fail to see that Jesus alone can satisfy man’s deepest needs will continue to reject His claims and don’t experience the hunger that results in salvation.
1. Verses 1-2 state that the multitude followed Jesus from one side of the lake to the other. Who makes up this multitude? What have they previously witnessed? (The crowd that had been with Him since the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, and those in the temple when He was confronted by the Pharisees. They had witnessed his healing of the sick, v.2.)
2. When Jesus saw the multitude, He thought of their needs – hunger. But Jesus had something more in mind than feeding them. What is it? (He has a test of faith in mind for His disciples,v.6; and He intended on revealing Himself to the multitude.) What is the difference in the faith between Phillip and Andrew?
3. In verse 11 Jesus gives thanks for the small provisions. Do you think thankfulness is a prerequisite to God multiplying the little we have to provide the full measure of our need? How does ingratitude interfere with this?
4. What do you think the purpose was in Jesus’ instruction to gather up the leftovers? (To validate the miracle; they ate and were satisfied, yet there were leftovers.) If you were a member of that multitude, how do you imagine the miracle unfolding in front of your eyes? (As you take a piece of bread and fish and break a piece off, it doesn’t get smaller, but bigger as you see the pieces being passed on to those around you.)
5. At first glance, verse 14 would indicate that the miracle produced the effect Jesus wanted – the people believing He was from God. But perhaps not so, because Jesus withdrew from them to a mountain all by Himself. What do you think is going on here? (They wanted seize Him and make Him a Messiah who would provide their daily needs, but didn’t necessarily want to make Him Lord of their life. This would frustrate His mission, so He departs from them.)
Insight: Jesus does not primarily want to satisfy just our material needs. He wants to satisfy our deep-seated needs. Our need of forgiveness is not always recognized, and yet without forgiveness, we cannot enjoy eternal life.
6. Later that evening, the disciples board a boat and intend to cross over to the other side. Besides Jesus walking on the water, what other miracle happens? (v. 21 – as soon as He gets in the boat, they are at their destination.) If you were in the boat, how would that affect you? What is verse 22 trying to communicate to us? (That the people knew that Jesus had not left in the boat, but returned in it.) Does their puzzling question of verse 25 add to this?
7. Jesus does not answer their question, but turns the discussion a different direction. What is Jesus really trying to address in verses 26-27? (He brings home to these insensitive Galileans the truth that it is a spiritual hunger for imperishable, life-giving food that He has come to satisfy, not bread for the stomach.)
8. Jesus encourages them to work for the food that will not perish – spiritual food. The people ask Him what that work consists of. Jesus responds saying, “Believe.” Before they will believe, they want a sign, like bread coming from Heaven that God did for their ancestors. What’s wrong with that request? Matt. 12:39
9. What “bread” is Jesus talking about in verse 33? (Himself.) In order for that Bread to be broken, distributed and fed to the world, what must happen to it first? (He must first be crucified, then resurrected, v. 39-40.)
10. Why the grumbling in verse 41? (Because He did not dole out a miracle of providing bread like they wanted; and because they did not believe in their heart that Jesus was the Son of God who came to feed the spiritually hungry.) According to verse 42, what’s the stumbling block in their mind that keeps them from believing? (They knew His physical roots, thus they could not believe His spiritual roots, i.e., from Heaven.)
11. Verse 44 is a key verse. What’s so important about our spiritual walk as explained in this verse? (We must first be “drawn” by God’s spirit, in our heart; we must hear the call of God if it’s to be a genuine salvation.) Jn. 6:65; Acts 8:18-20; Lk. 5:32; Acts 2:38-39; Jn. 12:32; Jer. 31:3
12. According to verse 47, what is one of the key components to eternal life? There are two kinds of “belief”. Explain the difference? Ja. 2:19
13. What do you think Jesus means in verse 51 about eating the bread, eating His flesh? 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:24-25; Lk. 22:19
Insight: True nourishment that brings eternal life, is possible only for those who accept Jesus’ sacrifice, who become a part of the Body by faith, who are crucified with Him that they may live with Him. There is no mysterious participation in the physical flesh of Jesus, but rather appropriation of the spiritual benefits of His crucifixion and resurrection. Jn. 6:63
14. What’s the deep meaning behind Jesus’ words in verse 56? (To eat His flesh and drink His blood IS TO ABIDE IN JESUS; to have Him resident in your soul, obeying Him, abiding in Him, to take Him in completely.)
15. V. 60 Why did the people have such a hard time with Jesus’ words? (Because they were taking Him literally…that they had to become cannibals and take bite out of His arm in order to have eternal life.)
16. What’s going on in verse 66?
17. State verse 68 in your own words. (Whom else can we go to Lord? You are the One who has the words of life!)
18. What of Peter’s words in verse 69 sets him apart from the rest of the multitude that stumbled over Jesus’ words?
Jn. 6:68-71 It’s completely possible to be a member of a religious group and still have the devil in your heart. Judas was such a person. You can tag along and do the religious things and talk the religious talk, but until you can believe in your heart and confess openly with your tongue that Jesus alone has the words of life, you will reap a destiny reserved for the devil and his angels. Rev. 20:10-15
Spectators don’t win the prize…only team players. Those who are spiritually hungry and recognize their need are drafted (drawn) onto the team. Which are you?!