Living Bread – Part Two
(A gleaning from St. John 6)
by Fred Pruitt
II. Who the Bread Is
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
Still seeing it in a fleshly way, they have an enthusiasm to have that bread, but it seems plain that another thing Jesus told them, actually the MAIN thing, just flew over their heads – “I am the bread of life.” They’re still wanting the bread of THIS life. They think maybe they could have a basket of bread that never runs out, like magic.
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
Jesus begins to really crank it up here.
“Ye also have seen Me, and believe not.” It may seem to be getting the cart before the horse, but Jesus’ point is that they arrived in unbelief, observed in unbelief, desired in unbelief, and judged in unbelief. They could not see because they did not believe. (They believed in the miracles in the same way they probably believed in magic. There were other “preachers” with supposed miraculous powers around in those days, e.g., “Simon the sorcerer” mentioned in Acts 8. But the “Spirit aspect,” which Jesus was demonstrating and to which He was pointing, was completely foreign to them.)
They saw only the physical signs and wonders, and that was all. They saw the Man, Jesus, too, but they only saw Him according to the flesh and how hooking up with Him might be some advantage to them. He was only another man to them, but they knew He had the power, and they wanted it, or at least its results! And therefore their total focus on the flesh completely blinded them to the Real Miracle. It was invisible, non-existent to them. (It was not something God “did” to them as a punishment for not believing. It was simply the “nature” of what held them, which was the “wrath” nature, as Paul mentioned in Eph 2:3.)
Understand, this is not just a one-time event, but a principle. When we dwell in darkness we cannot see Him or know Him. As long as we hold the darkness (independent self-will) as primary, our inner eyes are completely blinded to the True Light from Heaven. Nor can we escape the darkness, by any of our own resources!
But not to worry! Something incredible happens in the Eternal! A miracle occurs! The miracle is Love!! That is why and how we know God is Person, I AM, because Love cannot come from any source other than “Person.” Only a person can Love. If the universe existed and operated on pure logic, the ultimate of reason, clockwork, precision, everything perfectly working so that accurate predictions can be made for its continual working and growing, yet if it is without Love, it is only a machine, a facsimile of life. Only a person can Love, and there is no Love without life.
The reason I say that Love is a “miracle,” is that there is no logical reason for Love to exist – not divine “other-Love,” agape “I-will-die-to-give-you-life” Love. Science can figure almost everything else out, but there is no “Love” in science. The physical universe is an outward working of the inner true universe, and to eyes that see, “Love” is everywhere represented and displayed in the physical from sub-atomic particles to giant swirling galaxies 10 trillion light-years from earth.
But in the physical there is no tangible “proof” of this “other-Love,” and this world’s science deals only with facts and formulas confirmed by measurable experiments. I’m not criticizing “science,” for I am fascinated at the material universe in which the Lord God placed us, but it is the nature of science to only deal with things that can be quantified or measured. “God” is not of that category of measurable “things,” even though He is everywhere present in the Wholeness of Himself, and by Him all things consist. Still, human science can never “discover” God, even though we are surrounded and immersed in every evidence of God that could possibly be in a physical universe.
The things scientists “discover,” however, are physical laws and manifestations of the Eternal God’s thoughts and mind, that He spoke into existence by His Word. Even in this vast seemingly limitless physical world, His wonders are past finding out! Science keeps discovering greater and greater depths in the unseen invisible world of atoms, electrons, protons and smaller and smaller particles and phenomena on down into the infinitesimally small, so that there seems to be no limit to how “small” things can be. On the other hand, looking outward to interstellar and intergalactic space, where the distances without are so vast and far reaching no imagination of man can perceive it – it breaks my mind to consider it! – and even there we have found no limit, only the limit of our measuring devices.
A universe running on logic alone can theoretically work. As they said of the Nazis, “At least they made the trains run on time.” And logic is like law – break it and there are dire consequences. Love breaks logic, and in a sense, messes up the beautiful and orderly universe that logic thinks it has made and it should be. Logic reasons that everything would work like clockwork if we were not interrupted or driven by some silly variable called “Love.” Love is an intrusion into such an orderly world.
But Love just shows up, Love full of Grace, Love full of hope, Love full of encouragement and most importantly, Love without judgment. The whole world is the exact opposite – we’re always braced for the next crisis because that is the nature of this world! But Grace and Love are ultimately not “of” this world – and therefore Grace and Love are totally unbelievable surprises simply coming “out of the blue!” We are always surprised by Love and Grace coming in their true form! Life often conditions us to think we do not deserve that kind of joy and peace. But, as C.S. Lewis wrote about his marriage late in life, he was “Surprised by Joy.”
Most things are predicable, but Love is not, other than we can only expect it to be what it is. Sometimes it shows up where it is least expected, and when it is least expected. There are people and places and situations where righteousness, truth, and even sometimes wisdom cannot or will not go. Sometimes those places get their dander up when righteousness, truth and wisdom come in the door. But Love needs no invitation, and can get through many a closed door that its brothers cannot. Not many can withstand Love’s fire, which is not a passion to possess the other, but a passion to light the same fire in the other.
Love is more powerful than darkness because it can burrow through the murky depths where Light cannot penetrate. Then the Spirit, along with divine righteousness, truth and wisdom, follows on the path Love has blazed, breaking through our strong barrier of self-will, coming from within us out of the other principle (heaven), and by some means awakens us when we are in darkness to a hunger for the Light, along with a growing hope to escape the wrath that rages and constantly speaks accusation and judgment in us in our captivity. Something has stirred us, and somehow something about the life we have been living seems false, and the hope of freedom begins to grow. We did not know, as the crowd with Jesus did not know, that we were “opposing ourselves,” that the entire life we have been living until Jesus Christ, we were caught in the “snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim 2:25,26).
Think of Jesus walking boldly into the house of Matthew, to make merry with his friends and party guests. (Jesus here is being exactly what Paul instructs Timothy in the same passage above, 2 Tim 2:24 – “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing …”) Jesus walks in with no hint of “holier than thou” or frowning disapproval, even though what He encountered at the party what must surely have been, to the sensitive religious-observing Jew as Jesus was, as well as to the crowd of Pharisees and Simon Peter, who would NEVER go to such a gathering, some pretty rowdy and bawdy behavior. If Jesus was there, “loving the sinner but hating the sin,” (as some modern evangelicals like to say), there was no hint of hating anything in His demeanor, just Love for Matthew and his guests, and a real camaraderie among them as they willingly listened to his stories that night, and heard Grace and Love speak kindly to them. As it is written, “Beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:1,2)
(That would have been quite a party to have attended!)
But Jesus was just living what Love does. Suddenly, even while we are yet in darkness, a Light can somehow come on of its own accord, and ignite in us an inner change of direction! (It did for me!!!) As we are led and drawn out of darkness by the Light of the brightest noonday sun, like Lazarus at the door of his tomb, we are made wholly new again! We have come out of the old Jerusalem to which Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! 35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
We are desolate no longer, because we have been removed from the old Jerusalem and translated into the new, so that by the Spirit we now, “Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:34,35).
But the bulk of the crowd that day, the day He spoke of Himself as the Living Bread, were not yet at that point. The day before they thought they had Him figured out, and were ready to make Him their king! But that day, hearing His explanation of what the previous day’s miracles meant, and that He had not provided a meal for that day, too, they began to turn on their yesterday’s king.
Jesus is undaunted, however. He goes on:
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
At this point, for a moment Jesus leaves the argument. Even though the bulk of the people appeared to not “hear” Him, (THAT day, but many seeds were sown and many may come up another day), He nevertheless went on with the words from the Spirit for that day. Everything He is saying is the True Water of Life to these people! His Love is gushing out of the depths of God’s Love out of His own being, shed abroad by the Holy Spirit through the unbounded heart of Jesus Christ. Let those who hear come to Me, He is saying. And everyone who comes to Me, He goes on to say, I will never cast out! (That is VERY good news!)
“Come to Me,” He said. What does that mean? Well, exactly what the words say. There is no cloaked meaning here. I do not think Jesus was operating under any other reality than the immediacy of the Holy Spirit and oneness in will with the Father. He was not operating out of any sort of “doctrinal position,” but only out of Love and Truth in the temporal and the Eternal. “The Son can do nothing of Himself …. The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” That is Jesus’ “doctrine!”
I don’t know why there has been almost a movement these days to discount “choosing,” or “receiving” Christ, or making a “decision for Christ,” and I think this “Come to me” phrase would be in that category. The general idea, I think, that spurs it, is the truth that all these things are solidified in the Eternal, gifts of Grace, everything done and completed in the “finished work of the Cross,” and it is “true” without our will or our choice or any other human-side activity, because, to that way of thinking, it might be legalism or self-works or pride to say, “We believe, or “We come,” or, “We receive.”
So to quell the first concern, that confessing or choosing or receiving might be anti-grace or even prideful, the truth is no one can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3) – and that goes for all that other stuff, too. Rather than being “prideful” to make such a statement, in actuality it can only be made in the greatest humility, because, at least for that moment (though there will be many more in the future) the Holy Spirit comes into our immediate emptiness and fills our mouths with His words. So when the time comes to say it or receive or decide this or that, the Grace is there operated in and by the Spirit to do that saying or receiving or deciding, but we are not left out of the picture, as if we only exist as observers. No, it’s US doing all that saying, receiving and deciding (but it is HIM [in us as us])!!!!
“Come to me,” or, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord,” are ways the things of God are cinched, made concrete, in us, not in the Lord. He does not need our faith, or our word, our permission, our deciding or our receiving. So if He doesn’t need it – He knows the heart before the mouth speaks! – then it is for us!
Faith is how everything works, in the natural as well as the spiritual. Who would expect a taxi to stop and pick him up if he doesn’t hail a cab or call the service? If a man asks a woman to marry him, does he not expect an answer? Would they be considered married if she never answers? If we want to attend a particular school, do they not expect a filled-out application and all the appropriate records they request? We may meet all their requirements, we may be all they are looking for, and for some they even go recruit them. But for most of us, we are looking to “get in,” and which school would give us real (not honorary) credit for classes we did not attend, in which we did not learn anything, nor was there any test or final examination of any sort to see if we had actually received the necessary knowledge and understanding required for our degree and possibly our choice of profession? That would be ludicrous.
But of course that is not our lot in Christ. He has taken us on a journey. The journey is Him, learning “Him.” And at least the first part of the journey is plain old-fashioned school – no, not seminary or Bible school – but the school of the Spirit. (Not that one could not or should not attend seminary or Bible school. The “School of the Spirit” works there as well.) It could also be called, “The School of Faith,” or “The School of Christ,” because those two aspects are the foundation of our Spirit education. The Spirit’s main job in this stage, as it concerns us particularly, is to “form Christ in us.” [Gal 4:19].)
When we come into our “majority” so to speak in our Spirit life, from then on we are persons running in full bore, in total possession of ourselves in the Lord. “The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” (Obad 1:17b). The Spirit through Life teaches and upholds us – we don’t even know it’s happening most of the time – but one day it occurs to us by the Spirit, that He has grown us up, and we realize He has been feeding us meat! “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5:14).
We are perhaps inwardly timid and even appearing that way outwardly, but nonetheless it is the truth that we are able to find through Christ in us, that we have an inner dynamo of divine creative energy and power available to bless the world springing up in our inner selves where God dwells, that spills out into the countryside wherever we are and in all we do!
It is all for this glorious privilege we have been given, to be the Sons of God. This is how the Sons operate in the kingdom. By the Word. As Jesus quoted to the enemy: “Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” (Deut 8:3)
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
This is one of Jesus’ major issues – the will of the Father. His daily Life is about nothing else. He says in many ways He has no life of His own. He doesn’t even have a house or a room He can call home. He exists to do the will of Another – not a far-off Another – but Another Who is the Same as, yet the Source of and greater than, the Son.
Several times in His conversations He brings the will of the Father to the forefront. Once, at the door of a house where He was teaching, when someone pointed out that His mother, sisters, brothers, cousins, etc., were waiting for him without, Jesus waved His hand over the whole gathering, saying that His mother, cousin, brother, sister etc., may not be blood relatives at all, but were those who did the will of the Father.
My favorite is what He said to the disciples when they brought Him lunch from Sychar, where He had been chatting with a woman at Jacob’s well.
“We have some food for you, Rabbi!”
In typical Jesus fashion, instead of saying, “Well, let’s get it out and chow down!” He first said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” (John 4).
Of course that stumped the disciples. “Somebody else must have brought Him something,” they speculated among themselves. But Jesus silenced their speculations when He explained, “My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and finish His work.”
I cannot stress the literalness of these words boldly enough. He was not expressing an inspirational devotional thought, something for an evangelical coffee-table book. To Jesus, “To do the will of Him Who sent me,” was literally His food, His sustenance. “My meat,” He had called it at Sychar. The hunger of the Love of the Spirit was greater in Him than His mere body’s needs. Whether He ate a meal or not, the Spirit quickened Him body and soul. His body could live from the Life of the Spirit within and it did.
(I will interject here, that these things I am describing about Jesus, through Him become our realities as well. Years ago it came to me to believe and confess for myself Jesus’ word about Himself: “My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and finish His work.” The Truth regarding Jesus goes full circle and God’s Word has accomplished the purpose for which it was sent, when it becomes the Truth regarding us – in other words, when we ourselves in Him KNOW as we are KNOWN. Christ “formed” – come to maturity, adulthood – in US! And even that is only another step or place of faith, that has nothing to do with our humanity or our years, but only as we come to the faith of it by the Spirit and in His time, and as the Spirit leads everyday, from faith to faith.)
But He really throws a curve-ball with this shocking statement: “For I came down from heaven.” There was no way the flesh-minded crowd could handle that statement! What could it mean?
The more I “know,” the greater the Mystery of Jesus Christ becomes. As much as I have endeavored over the years to identify with the humanity of Jesus, and have encouraged others to the same, (and I don’t take back any of it), there is this “other” aspect to Him, which for the moment I’ll call the “came-down-from-heaven” aspect.
Stuff like walking on water. Had He practiced that before? What about being on top of a mountain, speaking with Moses and Elijah about His upcoming “passion,” completely transfigured in Light? What could they possibly have said to Him?
When was the last time I did that – went up onto a mountaintop and became transfigured with Divine Light? Not ever, that I know of!
Being attended by angels in the wilderness, money out of a fish’s mouth to pay the Temple tax, needing neither a bridge nor a boat to cross a sea – that is not my normal run-of-the-mill daily life!
(But I will go on record now to say I believe that every one of those deeds attributed to Jesus in the gospels, actually happened. I do not think the apostles were liars or pitchmen, nor is this collection of stories a fluffed-up version of what really happened. I accept it all as fact and truth. But I am not here to discuss miracles, so I’ll leave that for the moment.)
What does He mean, He “came down from heaven”? This touches an issue, a “doctrinal” one, I suppose we could call it, but I prefer the word “Truth” regarding what I have to say. In my pre-Christ days of looking around in eastern thought, one of the most common aspects I heard in that time, regarded the “Christ-consciousness” or “Christ-Spirit.” In eastern thinking, “Christ consciousness” was really something “separate” from men, so that Jesus was just one of a number who had “attained” the “Christ consciousness,” making “Christ” and “Jesus” two separate entities, both dwelling together as one, in the human body of Jesus of Nazareth.
But almost from the first moment I began my “conscious” knowing in Jesus through recognizing my new birth, I knew there was no separation whatsoever between the two. They were, and are, one and the same. Peter said to Jesus, and others did as well, “Thou art THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God.” There is no other Who can be called “THE” Christ. He is the exclusive, only “begotten” FULL SON of the Father, and all the rest of humanity to whom He was sent as Son of Man, only find Christ in themselves through Jesus THE Christ. There is no separation between Jesus the Man and “Christ” the anointing, for they are inseparably and eternally ONE, and as One He, Jesus Christ IS the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb 13:8). That is why, at times in the Gospels, Jesus seems to express almost a “pre-memory” of heaven, as if He can remember as a “man,” His previous “state” in heaven with the Father. This is completely outside our ken. His role as “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” in Revelation puts this in perspective:
“And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Rev 5:2-5)
They were looking for a MAN to open the book in heaven. Let us understand the “time” here in this scene in heaven. It is outside of time, which means the scene we are given to see is eternal. Everything in Revelation has this quality to it as the Apostle writes in the introduction: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” (Rev 1:4)
So in this timeless time in heaven, they are looking for a Man – and behold, there is one there Who is worthy! Jesus, the Root and Offspring of David, He is there, in that timeless realm, and He is the One, the MAN required to do the job, to restore BY man that which had been lost BY man.
Why do I say that, since it is obvious that we are restored by God? How could it be restored by man, and why is that necessary? We will only mention this briefly. The answer to the first question is obvious: Emmanuel, God “with” us in synoptic Gospel terms. One with the Father, Son and Spirit, in Johannine terms. Christ in us one Spirit with Him, in Pauline terms. The same Overcomer, Conqueror, Son of God in Heaven, emptied Himself of Divine Rights and entered the world as a man the way all men do, as an infant conceived and nurtured in its mother’s womb, until the day it is brought out into the light and the beginnings of self-conscious existence. He is the Redeemer, the Salvation, the Promise, the Messiah, the Christ, the WORD of God, yet in the manger He sleeps just like any other baby. He is the MAN Who does not give us salvation, but IS SALVATION!
The reason it is necessary that it is by Man we are redeemed and restored, is that “MAN” is where the problem is, not in the Father. The Father does not need redemption or restoration, nor does man need just a declaration or a “belief” in a future redemption and restoration. What God decrees must come into reality, into form, and Man alone cannot make that happen. Yet Spirit does not remain invisible and unmanifest, but always seeks toward manifestation, starting with the Father begetting the Only Begotten Son, and through Him, all other things. Therefore salvation must occur IN Man, for Man to have any benefit of it, or in other words, it must be God in Christ IN Man, since God in Christ in us, is Himself our Salvation.
END PART TWO
(“Part Three – Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood” coming next.)