9 September 2017

Will you live?

How long can you go before you feel hungry? Famished? Starving? How long before you starve to death? Doctors say it's something between 45-60 days.

We need bread to live
The basic food we need to stay alive is called 'bread'. It's our staple diet. It's different in different countries, maybe pasta in Italy, yam in Nigeria, rice in Asia, and MacDonalds for young people all around the world!

In the Bible, Jesus talks about a special sort of bread. He starts by looking back to the time when God's people Israel were wandering in the desert for 40 years. There was no food in the desert, but God gave them bread from heaven to keep them alive. This was called 'manna', which means "what's THAT?!", because they'd never seen anything like it before. It wasn't something you could grow on a farm or make in the kitchen. It was something God gave them from heaven every day for forty years to keep them alive.

But not only was God keeping them alive. He was also teaching them a lesson - that what we need to live comes from God and we have him to thank for our daily bread. And what became obvious for them in the desert is also true for us, if only we give it a moment's thought. God made planet earth. He made seed bearing plants. He controls the weather and every living thing. He made us to be farmers, and he gave us the know how to make bread from seeds etc. When it comes down to it, we have God to thank for every meal we eat.

God gives us the bread we need to live
So why are millions of people starving to death around the world? The blame cannot be placed at God's doorstep. The latest global survey in April 2017 put the world population at 7.5 billion and food production at enough to feed 10 billion. There's no food shortage! There's only sin, which is our refusal to love our neighbour, as God commanded us. Instead of sharing what God has given us, we are selfish and greedy. But the point is... that God gives us the bread we need to live.

Jesus now takes that truth to show us some-thing even more important.

The bread we need to live forever
In John's Gospel Chapter 6, Jesus says these words, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but to do the will of him who sent me. My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.' (v.35, 38, 40).

As God sent manna from heaven to keep his people alive in the desert, so God has now sent Jesus from heaven to give eternal life to everyone that comes to him. Just before Jesus spoke these words, he had fed over 5000 people from just five small loaves and two fish until they had eaten their fill (and some leftovers!). He did this to show beyond doubt that he is the Son of God, who possesses the power of God. Which is why he says that all who come to him and trust in him, he will raise them up from death on the last day, never to die again. All those who belong to him will be raised from death, in the same way God raised him from death, never to die again.

Who is this bread for? For whom did God send Jesus from heaven?

Check out this wonderful news! (v.33, 35, 40) Jesus says plainly, 'The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty. Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.' This offer of life forever is to the world - whoever you are, whatever you've done in the past, whatever religion you've grown up in (or no religion at all). God offers you eternal life through faith in his Son Jesus.

Will you live?
The question is: will you live? Or will you face the sentence of eternal death for your sin at the judgment on the last day?

And if you have received 'the bread of life', don't now be selfish or greedy, but make sure you share the good news about Jesus with others, some of the billions of starving people facing eternal death without him.

Simon Smallwood
Pastor at St George's