In the past few weeks, our sermons have been studying John 6, particularly the passages where Jesus refers to himself as the “bread of life.” Take a few moments to read that chapter straight through. And now allow me to map out the chapter for you, so we can see how the whole chapter fits together:
- Jesus feeds the 5000 (verses 1-15): Jesus has high popularity; he performs a miraculous sign; people suggest he might be “the Prophet”; they try to force him to become king; Jesus retreats to a mountain by himself.
- Jesus walks on the water (verses 16-24): the disciples are in mortal danger; Jesus performs a miraculous sign; the crowd searches for Jesus.
- Jesus as the bread of life (verses 25-59): the crowd finds Jesus and looks for another miraculous sign; Jesus claims to be from heaven, to have seen God the Father, and to give true food and drink through his flesh and blood.
- Jesus loses the crowd (verses 60-71): the crowd/disciples turn away; Jesus has low popularity; Jesus promises to ascend to heaven (after his death and resurrection); Peter suggests he is “the Holy One of God”; Jesus is left alone with his Twelve disciples, one of whom will become a traitor.
In the span of one chapter, Jesus moves from high popularity to low popularity, which is a descent of sorts. But he constantly ascends: he goes to a mountain to be alone; he explains how he came from heaven and is going to heaven; he is lifted up and praised by Peter’s declaration of faith. The crowd wants to accelerate Jesus’s ascent to political power by making him king; instead, Jesus shows that his ascending path (as the King of kings) involves his abandonment and death. And Jesus’s ascent is not done alone: the disciples do not recognize him when he comes walking on the water, but by the end of the chapter they have come to know his true identity and remain faithful to him (for now) while everyone else has left him.
Of course, the story of the Bible includes the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, so now we know that he remains in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God the Father (1 Peter 3:21-22). The story of Jesus’s ascent is complete – except for his ascent into first place in the lives of those who believe in him.
Has Jesus moved into the highest point of your life? Is your relationship with him of primary importance to you? Are your actions, decisions, and thoughts guided by the King of kings and Lord of lords? What needs to happen to move Jesus just a little higher in your life? How can we as the church help with that growth in discipleship? Let’s talk.