Daily bread can’t satisfy your hungry soul

Pastor Jeff Struecker

I’m going to ask you some questions. There is a trick question in here; I’m just going to warn you. Question number one: Is it okay to ask God for stuff? Yes or no?


Come on, these are 50% chance of getting it right, because they’re yes or no questions. Is it okay to ask God for food? -because let’s just be hones; food is a necessity of life, and if I don’t eat, I’m going to die of starvation. Is it okay to ask God to give us bread?


Yes.


Yes, because Jesus tells us, when he teaches us how to pray, to ask your father in Heaven to give you your daily bread, which means you ask for bread tomorrow, because you need him to meet you and to provide you some bread tomorrow just like he provided you some bread today. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 


Next question: Is it okay to look for bread only to satisfy you?This is the trick. I’m just telling you right up front. The trick in this question is the word only. Is it okay to look to bread only to satisfy you?


No.


It’s no, because really, what we’re trying to wrestle with right now is, all of us need bread to survive. There’s nothing wrong with asking God to give us our daily bread. In fact, we’re supposed to ask for that. But here’s my question: At what point does asking God for stuff (even the important stuff), at what point does that stuff start to become an idol? Even the good gifts of God, when they become more than they’re supposed to be, can start to become an idol to us.


And here’s what I want you to hear from the Bible today: We’re going to take a look in the Gospel of John. We’re going to pick up where we left off last week in John chapter 6, but I need you to understand something about what we’re going to read from the Bible. I need you to know that bread alone cannot satisfy you at your deepest needs. You see, daily bread, as important as it is to your stomach, cannot satisfy a hungry soul.


Daily bread can’t satisfy your hungry soul. 

 

Jesus is prepared to provide for your daily needs, so there’s nothing wrong with asking him for some good stuff that you need to get through the day. But Jesus will not only settle for providing you with stuff. He wants to do much more for you. He wants to do much more for me. He wants to satisfy a hungry soul. And what we’re going to see from the Bible today are people who are looking to Jesus for satisfaction, to fill up a hungry stomach, but not a hungry soul. 


And everybody gets to this place from time to time. Everybody is either full at the soul level or hungry at the soul level. Maybe you’re tuned in to this broadcast. Maybe you’re watching it at home for the first time. You’ve never stepped foot into a church. You’ve never considered what the Bible has to say. For those of you who are far from Jesus (and Christians, I’m talking about your neighbor right now. I’m talking about your coworker), for people that are far from Jesus, they are starving at the soul level, but the problem is, they don’t know how to get full.


Don’t settle for ‘stuff’.


And so, what inevitably happens, not knowing Jesus is the satisfaction and Jesus is the one who can fill up your soul, what inevitably happens is, they start to look for things to fill up their soul. And here’s the stuff that they’ll look for: Sometimes they’ll go to look for bad things. They’ll turn to pills or to porn, hoping that that’s going to fill them up and realizing it still leaves them empty. 


Sometimes they’re going to turn to good things, hoping that those good things will really satisfy them. They’ll go to relationships, or they’ll look for respect and success at work and at school. And they’re hoping that those things are going to fill them up. And when they get the thing that they’re looking for, they’re still hungry, and they don’t know how to get full. Well today, Jesus is going to tell us how to be satisfied both at the stomach and at the soul level.


And you’re going to see this very vividly from a crowd in his day that are very much like your neighbor, very much like somebody that you go to school with, maybe like you. You see, this crowd came to Jesus looking for stuff, and Jesus doesn’t want you and me to be satisfied at the soul-level with stuff. Stuff was not created to fill you up. You were designed by God to long for something more than what you can hold in your hands and what you can put in your mouth. So, I’m going to pick up where we left off. We’re going to be in John chapter six. 


Let’s pick up in this story on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. John chapter six, starting in verse 22:


John 6:22-27 The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw there had been only one boat. They also saw that Jesus had not boarded the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone off alone. Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.”


I need to catch you up if you’re just tuning in for the first time. Two weeks ago, we saw Jesus do this great miracle of bread. There’s a huge crowd that shows up, and they hear about this rabbi. “This guy is different, and we want you to be wowed today by how different Jesus is.”


They are wowed by how different he is. They show up and they start to listen to him teach. They listen and listen, and there’s this massive crowd that starts to get hungry. And Jesus says, “I tell you what, Disciples. Let’s feed them,” a crowd of maybe 25,000 people on the side of a mountain. And Jesus gives them all enough bread and fish to eat that, according to the Bible, they’re all full. And there are 12 basket loads of food left over. After this event, the crowd start to push in on Jesus, and he says to his disciples, “Hey y’all, we need to step away. We need to go to the other side of the sea where Jesus was teaching.” 


So they get in a boat, and they go to the other side. And last week, we saw this great miracle where Jesus suspends the laws of nature and walks across the Sea of Galilee like it’s dry ground. And now this crowd is going to chase after Jesus.


And can we just give him some credit? Let’s give him some respect, because they’re going to go out of their way trying to find Jesus. The problem is why they’re trying to find Jesus, that Jesus has to deal with today. So this crowd now is going to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (no small journey) to go track Jesus down.


When Jesus is having this discussion with the disciples today, he’s saying, “Hey look, you guys have gone out of your way to come see me and to continue to follow after me. But I need to make sure that you’re doing this for the right reasons.” And let’s just be honest, y’all. Some people show up to church. Some people pray a prayer of desperation because, “My life is a mess, and God, I need you to get me out of it. But all I want from you is get me out of this mess in my life. That’s all that I want from you.”


These folks are hungry, and they are in need. And they say, “God, I need your help. Would you feed me? And would you give me something to satisfy me at the stomach level?” Jesus is going to make it very clear to them, “You’re looking for the wrong person because you’re looking for the wrong reasons. I’m not going to be your baker. I will only be your savior.” And what they started looking for was somebody that would be their baker. They were starving, and they knew it.


And I just want to be honest with us right now. God can and he sometimes will do awesome things in your life. And there’s nothing wrong with asking God to do something awesome in your life. In fact, that’s actually not a bad thing at all. But if the only reason why you are praying to God tonight is to ask him for some stuff, to ask him for awesomeness that he did last night… “God, would you do that awesomeness for me tonight? And that’s all that I want from you today. Other than that, you can leave me alone,” which is basically where this crowd is. 


If that’s all that you’re asking for, you’re missing it by a mile, because he says, “Yes, I’ll do some awesome stuff in your life, but I want to do much more than you can imagine, much more than you can ask. I’m willing to do that for you, but I’m not just going to be a baker that provides you a little bit of bread every time that you get hungry.” He will provide you your daily bread, but he wants to do much more than that.


We have this little devotional booklet that we put out here for people when they’re visiting. It’s called Our Daily Bread, and it’s been around for a long, long time. It’s just a few pages each day to get up and to read, that helps you put your focus on Jesus instead of putting your focus on yourself or what’s going on around you. The crowd is on a journey right now, and the journey is to discover who this rabbi really is, because he’s just done something that everybody knows was a miracle. And what they have to do next is decide if they’re willing to take a really big step. 


Decide to take the first step.  


You see, Jesus is calling you to do the same thing that he was calling this crowd to do. “Okay, you just saw a miracle, but I need you to believe.” And to be honest with y’all, the first step is always the biggest step. You’ve got this big paper that’s due at school. The first step is just deciding, I need to turn the TV off. I need to get up, and I need to go to work on the paper. When you make that step, every other step after that, to finish this paper and to turn it in, it’s easy. 


When you’ve got a big project or a big problem in life, the first step is just deciding, “Okay, I’m going to do it.” And then after that step, everything else starts to fall into place. Well listen, following Jesus is very much like this. The first step is deciding, “I’m going to cast it all on him. I’m going to trust him with all of it, and the next step, the next step, and the next step… are just deciding I’m going to walk with him today, more today than I did yesterday. Jesus is going to call this crowd to take a really big step of faith and look to him for more than just a baker. Listen to what he says next. When Jesus tells them to perform works that are in keeping with faith, they ask them this question:


John 6:28-29 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.”


Jesus is saying, “You can’t see with your eyes what will satisfy your soul.” You can’t touch it with your hands. You can’t hear it with your ears what will satisfy your soul. This is going to be a step of faith or a step of belief, and you’re going to have to take the first step. And when you do that, God will meet you, and he will be with you every other step of the way.


“But you have to believe that I am much more than a baker.” You see, I think what this crowd is doing, and if I can be honest with you, sometimes I do this, so chances are, you do this too. When I go to God in prayer, it sounds like me ordering at a bakery. “Hey Jesus, I’d like to get a couple of those bagels. And of course I need a loaf of bread, and oh, I see you got some croissants, so would you add those into the bag? And Jesus, do you have any donuts in the back? -because I’d really like a donut right now,” and that’s it. 


My prayer just sounds like an order of stuff from him. And he’s saying, “Listen, I’m willing to provide you the daily bread that you need, but I will not be your baker alone. I will be a savior to you, and if all you’re looking for is a baker, I won’t be that guy. I will be a savior who will walk with you and minister to you every step of the way. And by the way, when your life is over here, I will give you the bread that satisfies you for eternity. I will give you bread that lasts for eternal life, but you can’t buy it at the bakery and you can’t make it with ingredients. It’s only when you take the first step of faith.”


Somebody reading really needs to decide, I have been the kind of person that’s just simply asked stuff from God, and what he’s offering is more than just stuff. He’s offering to change me at the soul level. But can we be honest? Everybody else watching this broadcast needs to get up tomorrow morning, and we need to admit, “God, if I’m not careful, I will be tempted to be satisfied just by the stuff that I get around me, and God, would you help me not to be satisfied by what they offer me and the advertisements on TV? Would you help me to be satisfied in you and only in you, because only you can satisfy me at the soul level?” 


The Great Bread Bake Off


And now what we see instead of The Great British Bake Off, what we see next is Jesus’s description of the kind of bread that he’s offering. I call it “The Great Bread Bake Off” because now he’s about to offer a relationship.


Here’s what he’s doing: He’s saying, “Hey, I’m willing to give you bread, but here’s how this is going to work. I’m going to invite you to come into a relationship with me. I’m going to throw open the doors to the kitchen and the dining room, and I’m willing to give you bread by allowing you to be in my house and dwell in my presence for eternity. That’s the kind of bread that I’m offering you, not the kind of bread that you’ve put a little bit in your stomach and you go away and you’re going to be hungry again tomorrow. No, I’m offering you the eternal bread that will satisfy you forever. But it only comes in a relationship. So would you take the relationship, or are you only looking for the food and the physical needs?” Now Jesus is going to place the crowd on the spot.


John 6 30-33 “What sign, then, are you going to do so that we may see and believe you?” they asked. “What are you going to perform? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”


The word sign here is referring to a miracle, and the crowd is saying, “Okay, Miracle Worker, what kind of a miracle are you going to do for us now? Hey, Magic Man, why don’t you perform a trick for us right now?” They asked, “What are you going to perform?” And now they’re going to try to trick Jesus. They’re going to try to use the Bible against Jesus, which is never a good idea.


In Jesus’s day, rabbis used to like to talk about bread from Heaven and here’s what the rabbis used to say about bread from Heaven: They said that it is spiritual bread. The bread that you get here on earth is physical bread. It fills you up at the stomach level. Bread from Heaven is spiritual bread that will satisfy you on the soul level. Did you see what Jesus just did? He just turned the conversation to, “Now let’s stop talking about your stomach, and let’s start talking about your soul, because you are a spiritual person who hungers at the soul level, just like you hunger at the stomach level. As a spiritual person, I will feed your soul and your stomach. And it looks to me like you’re just looking for a guy who will satisfy you at the stomach level. The bread from Heaven that fills you up at the soul level, only God can give that to you. You can’t find that somewhere else.”


Now, just bear with me for a second, and humor me. I need you to repeat this sentence out loud:


Jesus will be my savior, but he will not be my baker.


Here’s why I’m telling you this: Any baker that could fill you up at the stomach level cannot satisfy you at the soul level. Any savior who can satisfy you at the soul level would never settle for just filling you up at the stomach level. And many people that were following Jesus 2,000 years ago when this was written were simply looking for a baker. And just be honest. You know people (because I do too) who, when they turn to Jesus, they’re just looking for a baker, and they just want him to get them out of their problems and then leave them alone so that they can go back to doing their thing and living their life.


I need you to remember in the back of your mind that he would never settle for that. He will be my savior, but he will not be my baker. And by the way, a baker can’t save me, and a savior would never settle for being a baker. And what Jesus is saying to the crowd today is, “The kind of bread that you need comes from a savior, not from a baker. So why do you keep looking for a baker’s bread when I’m willing to be a savior and give you the bread from Heaven that saves you eternally?”


You need bread to survive tomorrow, just like I do. You need the bread from Heaven to fill your soul up, and Jesus and only Jesus can satisfy you at that level.


Seeing isn’t believing. 


See, the truth is, they didn’t realize who was standing in front of them, and they were looking with their own eyes, which is proof to all of us today that seeing isn’t believing. Just because you can see it with your eyes doesn’t mean you believe it in your soul. And most of the time, what you believe in your soul, you and I don’t get the privilege of seeing with our eyes until after we have passed from this life to the next. So now, Jesus is just going to tell you how every Christian reading this can go to bed tonight, absolutely certain that you will spend eternity in God’s presence, seeing him with your eyes, because it’s not based on you and it’s not based on what you’ve done. It’s based on Jesus, who he is, and what he’s done for you. Listen to how this story wraps up for us in the Gospel of John:


 John 6:34-40 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always.” “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again. But as I told you, you’ve seen me, and yet you do not believe. Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”


No matter what your sin is, no matter how bad it is, no matter how much you feel unworthy, no matter how much you feel like, “I can’t do anything to make my problems and my mistakes go away,” you’re right. You can’t. But if you will come to Jesus and believe, and I mean really believe, not just simply say the words and have it in your head, but you believe it in your soul, he says to you, “No matter what you’ve done in your past, I won’t cast you out, because my father is bringing you to me. He’s drawing you to me. And when he draws you to me, I will never cast you out of my sight. For I have come down from Heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”


Everyone who sees the Son and believes will have eternal life. -not just reads about him in a book and trusts that there really was a guy who lived 2,000 years ago. He really did exist, and to you, he is no different than Abraham Lincoln or George Washington that you read about in a history book. Jesus is making a distinction. “No, I need you to take it from here to here, and it has to be real in your soul.” 


Jesus is urgent with these words. He is essentially looking the crowd in the eyes and saying, “You’re missing it, and it’s about to cost your eternity. I need you to recognize that I am much more than just simply a miracle worker. I am much more than somebody who can get you out of your problems and then they will leave you alone for the rest of your life. No, I want to be the one who radically, totally changes you.”

Last weekend, I had a chance to go speak to some of the most incredible students in America. I had a chance to speak at the US Naval Academy, to those midshipman. They were off on a spiritual retreat, and I talked to them about eternity. I looked them in the eyes, and I said, “Don’t gamble with eternity. Don’t leave this retreat this weekend, not knowing that you will spend eternity in the presence of a holy God. You’re in the wrong line of work if you’re not 100% certain where you’re going to spend eternity.” 


Not one, but about a dozen of those students came up after I got done talking and they said, “I need to talk to you some more about this because I’m not sure where I’m going to spend eternity.”


One of those midshipman said, “Can we talk? -because I’m desperate. I’ve been through a lot of problems in life, and I’ve had some real tragedies, but I’ve gotten to where I’m at all on my own.” And let’s just be honest; she is in one of the most elite schools in the world, and she got there all on hard work and her personal efforts, and she knows it, which means she is talented enough to do just about anything she puts her mind to. She looked me in the eyes, and she said, “I’m completely miserable. My life is not at all what I want it to be. I heard you talk about eternity, and I don’t know what’s going to happen to me after I die.”


I sat down, and I started to explain to her who Jesus was and what Jesus did for her. I made sure that she understands absolutely nothing about this conversation has anything to do with who you are, what you’ve done, or what you offer God. He is offering you a chance to have eternal life with him. It is his gift to give. Only he can give it, and your whole part in this thing is just simply being willing to accept the gift of eternal life, and that happens through faith. You take the courageous step of faith and say, “Jesus, I believe that you’re real. So real, in fact, that I’m willing to bet my eternity on it.” And that’s the moment that you accept God’s eternal gift. 


And then I looked at her, and I said, “And when you do this, you no longer have to worry if you’re good enough to be in his presence because he cleans you up and he makes you good enough. I want you to remember what the Bible says in Ephesians chapter 2:8-9. This is a gift of God. It’s not something you could work for, which means you can’t actually boast about it, because God just did a miracle, and you happened to receive the benefits for it.”


Right there on the side of the mountain, she surrendered her soul to Jesus, prayed this beautiful prayer, asking him to radically change her, and I believe that she went from hungry, starving (literally at the soul level), to satisfied for the first time in her life. In fact, she simply said, “Every day that I’ve gotten up over the last several years, I remind myself, I’m not worthy. I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve the things have happened in my life. And now I realize I’m not and I can’t do anything to fix it. So Jesus stepped in and he fixed it for me.”


I’m telling you about her because maybe you’re in the exact same spot. You’re thinking, “I’m a pretty big deal, and I can do a couple of pretty important things,” or, “I’ve got a few things that I can do well.” And until you get to the moment where you realize, “God, I have nothing to offer you but mistakes and failures, but I believe you love me enough that you would be willing to accept me, mistakes and failures and all, that you would be willing to clean me up and that you want to give me more than I could even ask for. You’re offering me more than just a loaf of bread to satisfy my stomach. You’re offering me to enter into your family, to come into your house, and to have a meal with you for eternity in Heaven. If that’s what you’re offering me, then God, I need it. And I want it. And right here, I am turning from my sins, and I’m turning to you.” 


And if that’s you, I want to make a promise. Jesus will hear you. He will honor this prayer, this sincere prayer, and he will radically change you and give you eternal life.


Christian, can I remind you of something? The same gospel that you needed to change you on the first day that you became a Christian, you need that gospel just as much today. I need it just as much today, because if I’m not careful, I will go through my day tomorrow feeling like, “I’ve got this, Jesus. I can handle this all on my own.” And that’s the first step to some massive failure.