All that we need, all that we were meant to be - our truest identity and our deepest yearnings - can be found in Jesus. We must decide if we will accept His invitation to find our story in His.
All right. Great to see everyone, blessings to have this time together with all of you, to be connected. You know, if you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, I’m the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. Today, I want to talk about, I want to share with you around this idea.
Really, it’s a truism that we’re invited into to find our truest identity, in Jesus. You know, we’re going to have to ground our identity somewhere and the Lord invites us to ground it in Him. Our series is of course, the, the, built around the “I Ams” the seven, I Am statements that Jesus made as they were recorded in John’s gospel.
I called them the big seven. But really, even more it’s about how we can find our story in the story of Jesus. In other words, it’s discovering, who I am when I choose to live for the Great I Am. And you know, well, Jesus taught us some things, didn’t he? He taught us that the probably the biggest problem we have as human beings occurs when we seek to find ourselves outside of God.
And in fact, that’s a great working definition of sin, right. Trying to find ourselves, but pushing God outside of that quest. And that was the sin that Jesus came to address. That’s why He gave His life for us so that we could have a relationship with God so that He, could be every bit a part of our life.
And we could find ourselves in, in, in Him. And I think another way of saying it is this, that when we choose to write our own story, apart from God – death, hurt, and pain inevitably follow. It follows as night follows day. But when we allow Him, when we allow the Lord to help us write our story, the story of our life, to find our story in Him, in His story, well then life flows as day follows night.
Uh, you know, remember Jesus was clear when He said, I have come, to give you life abundantly, endlessly. It’s His desire for all of us. CS Lewis wrote this in the book called The Four Loves. He said, “our whole being by its very nature is one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together
and tie up things that are still dangling loose.” Well, I love that, right? Isn’t that what the Lord really wants to do, in our lives? Come on, loved ones, you know it. It is true, He wants to untie the things that are knotted together. Like, some of us are really knotted up on the inside. I mean, it’s a great description of us.
We’re we’re filled with stress and tense and fearful, and we’re struggling. We feel all locked up and bound up and, you know, the Lord wants to untie those things. Jesus wants to help us untie our identity in Him and find it in Him. And then others of us, you know, He’s wanting us to help us tie things together;
these dangling pieces that are loose, the Lord wants to teach us how to have a coherent, cohesive, life. A life that is aligned with Him and living in Him so that we can find a life that is truly alive, the life that we were meant to have in Christ. Right? So whether it’s, you know, untying the knots or tying together the dangling loose pieces of our lives, this is what the Lord wants to do.
And even now, Lord Jesus, I just invite you to pray with me, but even now, Lord, if there is any area of our life where we feel knotted up, just, all tangled and knotted, Lord, we invite You by Your Holy Spirit to come and untangle those things. And if there’s areas of our life where that are just kind of loose and ragged, and we need you to, to bring it together and to make it more whole and more safe and, and really more like You, then we welcome You to do that as well, Lord.
So just, you know, speak to us as we engage Your word together. That’s my prayer, in Jesus’ name, yes. For all of us, amen. Well, in John 6, I want to turn to this piece of scripture. In John 6, there was an exchange between Jesus and a crowd of inquirers that prompted what we would call the first of Jesus’s
I Am declarations that are recorded in the book of John. And that first one is when he said I Am the bread of life. Now that, that statement I Am the bread of life was actually connected to a miracle that Jesus had done earlier on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. And it’s a beautiful, um, lake, the lake of Gennesaret.
It it’s called the Sea of Galilee, but it’s really a lake. And it’s just a beautiful place. I’ve been there a few times and I haven’t forgotten it. It, it just the colors, the blue and the beige and the hues that make up the Sea of Galilee, uh, once you’ve seen that you kind of, the New Testament comes a bit alive in a different way.
Well, it was, it was there on the shore that Jesus multiplied, did one of His most astonishing miracles, when He multiplied the fish and the bread. And He fed 5,000, uh, and it was definitely more than that, because it was just 5,000 men that on top of that were, would have been women and children. So it was a massive amount of people.
It was a huge crowd that Jesus, uh, fed that day. But we pick up in verse 25, and this is where we’re going to just sit for a bit in verse 25 of John 6, it says “When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, Rabbi,” that is teacher, “‘why did you come here?’ And Jesus answered ‘truly, truly. I say, I say this to you, that you are seeking me, but you were seeking me,
not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.'” And this was a curious way for Jesus to start because they said, Hey, because Jesus had come over to where the, these, these people were. And they said, you know, what are you doing over here? We’ve been looking all over for you, basically.
And He was saying, and I think it was, I think it was with a smile, you know, I can’t prove it, but in my mind’s eye, that’s what it was. He’s saying to them, well, I know why you’re looking for me. There’s no question in my mind that you enjoyed the miracle provision that I gave yesterday. You know, and it was almost like Jesus was saying, everybody loves a free meal, especially when it’s a good one.
Right. But the Lord was also saying, but my inquiring friends, you have not actually connected the dots. You have not, allowed that experience of miracle, provision and feeding to lead you anywhere. You, you actually have not received it as a sign that points to here it is who I am. You have simply come to get another meal.
You want to see another miracle. Yes, that’s what, that’s your real motive for coming and trying to find me. I wish it was the other, but I know what it is. He was under no illusions. And if you think about it, when Jesus says a sign, I mean, what is a sign but something that points us somewhere; tells us something about where we want to go, how to find our way.
Right. You know, it was not uncommon in Jesus’s day for leaders, and this was especially true of the Romans, to sway the masses with food to fill their bellies. In some cases, it was, well, in many ways like today, still in a certain way, it was quite transactional. You take care of us and we will follow and support you.
Right, that’s good. And Jesus says, in essence, look, I am not interested in being your benefactor and I’m certainly not interested in buying your allegiance by providing for your temporal needs. Isn’t that interesting? Think about that. I mean, otherwise Jesus would have just spent His entire life in ministry, creating food.
I mean, if you really want to get down to it, it’s that simple. And this really does strike on one of the things that the Lord wants us to understand as we reflect upon our lives. Because Jesus would always talk about how life is more than just, you know, bread alone. It’s just, it’s, it’s more than meant to just be for this temporal world.
And it’s more than just about what we eat to survive and enjoy. You know, I, I do really believe we, we are being reminded here, at least in part that we must guard against interpreting or living our life, loved ones, you got to hear me on this, with primarily a temporal perspective. Now, obviously, you know this, and I know this, we live in a material world.
We have real tangible needs. There’s no question about that. And a lot of our life is actually spent addressing those needs. There’s no, I think I can say, I mean, it, it’s why we work, it’s why we buy things. It’s why we save and spend and invest and plan and prepare and purchase. And I, and I realize that’s kind of
uh, you know, what some used to call first world problems or, you know, opportunity. Not everybody, in the world has this opportunity to do the things that we just talked about there. But, and Jesus never actually says it’s wrong to want to buy things or, you know, make purchases that make life more enjoyable.
He didn’t say it was wrong to engage our material temporal world in ways that are satisfying to us. But, He did on a number of occasions, oh, He reminded us of the danger of the absolute, really, folly of living out our story from a purely earthbound perspective. Like, He said, don’t do that. He always reminds us to instead live with an eternal perspective,
always, always. Some of you know, my admiration for some of the writings of Jim Elliot, who was a missionary who ended up becoming a martyr. I mean, he was killed trying to bring Jesus to a people group who never knew Him and, knew the Lord. And well, he said this, these words, it’s one of my favorite statements to remind me,
to keep my priorities in the right place. He said this, Elliot wrote this. He said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” I might say it this way. She is no fool who gives what she cannot keep to gain that which she cannot lose. And this, I think my friends, my brothers and sisters, is the key
when all is said and done. It really is. That we need to make sure that we are placing the accent on the right things, that we are keeping all things in perspective that we’re not getting consumed and focused in on those things that we can’t even take with us. That will be someone else’s someday. I mean, some, some of us we scratch so hard for things that in the end won’t mean anything.
And we give up, uh, the things that are eternal and the things that mean the most in life. And I heard someone say, well, you know, we are a modern culture in, in contrast to ancient pagan cultures. We don’t do child sacrifice. And I go, that’s great. Right. Thank you. And yet, at the same time, there’s a lot of people who in their pursuit of success or other things, like pleasure, are willing to sacrifice
their children, uh, in a sense of giving them, giving them up, not giving them the attention, not cultivating a spiritual center and support system of love in Christ, especially in their lives. Right. That’s why we’re such a big believer in Kids Ministry and why we put so much emphasis on it in our church, because we really do want to lay a foundation of love that will allow our little ones in community to always remember the things of Jesus. And,
I think that’s true for us as we grow older, certainly. Look at what Jesus said. Look what Jesus said here. In the 27th verse, he says, “Do not work” remember he’s in the conversation. He’s having this conversation with people who are wanting to get something from Him. He says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal.”
“Don’t,” Jesus said, simply live to exist. Again, man does not live by bread alone. He, the Lord is reminding us that we are not simply a cosmic accident, simply given the opportunity to experience things or sustain ourselves at its most basic level. We are, what He is saying, and the Lord has taught us this consistently, as you study His words, when we study the scriptures, is that yes, we are broken.
We are. And we are deeply flawed. And we are filled in this present state with explicit and unrelenting contradictions. So there’s this side of us as human beings, I’ll call it the sin impact, this darker side of us, but there’s also a part of us that was made to soar, that’s capable of love and capable of laughter and capable of artistry and just imbued, even in our broken state, as human beings with the very image of God. Will be called the, the imago dei in the Latin, right?
The image of God, it’s an imprint of the God who created us. It’s a faded imprint, but it is an imprint, nonetheless. An imprint, Jesus said, that He wanted to bring back to life, to awaken, to redeem and to restore. That’s, I mean, if you really want to get down to it, that is what the, I Am, Jesus the I Am, had come to do; to awaken the intention of God for our lives.
It says if it says, if Jesus was saying to the miracle seeking crowd, do you see what God is doing among you? It’s like they were seeking Him for another miracle, another meal. And Jesus was basically saying, you’re seeking me now because of what you experienced me doing that seemed to break the laws of nature.
And I totally get that, but He’s saying, look, the meal is nothing. Not really. It’s almost, it’s almost like Jesus saying the meal is nothing barely worth a nod compared to the greater thing that God is doing before your eyes. Don’t miss the bigger thing. You’ve got your eyes focused on the wrong thing.
Then they said to Him, well, verse 28, “‘what must we do to be doing the works of God?” Right? I mean, think about that question. They said, well, what should we do? What good work, what regulation, what rule? And Jesus answered them. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” It’s a reminder of that,
faith is both a gift and a choice by the way. So they said to Him, “Then what sign will you do that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” Think about what’s being said here in this exchange. Look at these verses, they said, basically well prove it .You know, show us another miracle. Perform, perform, and we will believe.
Look at, they said in verse 31, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” You know, they were going back in their history. They were going back to another miracle provision of bread. What’s called in the Old Testament, manna, the mysterious manna, the, the seed that fell like the dew in the morning that was given by God to sustain their ancestors.
The children of Israel as Moses led them in the wilderness. And you can read about it in Exodus 16, God fed them miraculously for essentially 40 years. And it was almost as if they were saying, we, we like what you did yesterday with the bread, it was amazing. But it’s not as amazing as what God did with Moses,
for decades in the wilderness. I mean, if we’re stacking up provision, how can you match that one? And Jesus said to them, think about this exchange “‘truly, truly I say to you, it was not Moses who gave them bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” Now stay with me on this, as for the bread in the wilderness and, uh, you know, however they were caught up reflecting back on it.
Jesus is saying, look, it was given by God, not Moses, I just want to clarify that. As amazing as it was, what Jesus was saying, that temporal bread cannot compare to the true bread that is being given by God from heaven. You are misunderstanding. That bread was just came and, it came and went. It was, it was just designed to feed them, to help them sustain themselves.
Yes, it is an amazing thing that God did through Moses, but it’s nothing. That temporal provision is nothing compared to what you are actually seeing in front of your eyes and you’re missing it. Part of, look at what He says, “‘For the bread of God, is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'” Do you hear, by the way, the cross, in those words, do you see it?
Do you see those, how those words represent the purpose of Jesus? Jesus says the bread that was given in the wilderness was given to temporarily quell the physical hunger of the people. But the bread I’m talking about is eternal in nature. It’s from a heaven above. And they said to Him, “‘Sir,'” oh, whoa, that’s awesome.
They- “‘give us this bread always.'” We would love that bread. If it’s, if it’s always going to show up and it has no end, oh man, we’ll save so much money. And they said to Him, give us that bread always, we’re ready. Jesus said to them, you still aren’t understanding me. Look at verse 35. This is awesome. “‘I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall not thirst.'” I am the bread of life. You know, speaking of Moses, that was, again, we mentioned this last week, that was the name God gave him when he asked as to, you know, as he stood on that holy ground before the bush, that was burning and not consumed, in Exodus 3, I think it was verse 13.
Where it says, “Then Moses said to God, ‘if, if I come to the people of Israel and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you and they asked me, what is his name? What shall I say to ?'” In Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, “I Am.'” And, and I I’ve always laughed a little bit when I read that passage, you know, God said to Moses, I Am.
And I think Moses says, I Am…what? And He, He says, I Am Who I Am. Oh, yeah. That, that, that, that explains it. No it doesn’t. What does that mean? And He says, say this to the people. Say this to the people of Israel. This was again God’s conversation with Moses that I’m referring back to, connecting it to what Jesus says right here.
He’s basically saying to Moses, you know, say to Israel, I Am, the eternal uncontainable life-giving self existent One, has sent me to you. Say, I Am That I Am has sent you. And so the answer that Jesus gives, it’s it’s masterful. Wouldn’t expect anything less. It’s masterful in that it does two things simultaneously; one,
and I know you can see this. It immediately, you know, links Jesus to the moment by the burning bush when God revealed Himself to Moses as the I Am. So when Jesus says I Am the bread of life, it’s an immediate linkage point. They were talking about Moses in the wilderness. Jesus hits them with Moses and how God revealed to him
He was the I Am, that Jesus was now declaring Himself to be. But even more, it reminds us this, the second piece here. The second thing it does is it reminds us that the God who commissioned Moses, think about it, the God that commissioned Moses to be the great deliverer, it’s like Jesus was saying He’s He’s before you, even now. The One who commissioned Moses, the I Am who commissioned Moses,
and said, tell them the I Am That I Am sent you. He is actually before you right now in human form. He is before you incredibly and wondrously as the bread of life, the ultimate deliverer and provision of God. Let’s read it again. Verse 35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.'” What does Jesus say? That the deepest journeys of the human story are to be satisfied in Him. They said, tell us what to do. And He said, believe in Me. Tell us what to do. Believe in Me. They said, give us a sign, and we will believe. And He said in essence: I give you Myself, I give you who I Am. All that you need, all that you were meant to be; all that I need.
All that I was meant to be; our truest identity and our deepest yearning can be found in Jesus. That’s what Jesus was saying. Your truest identity and your deepest yearning can be found in Me. And of course that strikes against both our culture, what the scripture describes as the wisdom of this world. And, and I’m going to say it in all its false narratives around meaning and identity.
I mean, there’s so many people trying to say what our purpose is and how we are to find our, our true self and where our identity is to be found; in self-realization or, you know, how we choose to, you know, express ourselves and feel about ourselves. And, you know, on top of that, all the false stories that we can tell ourselves.
You know, the lies that we so easily believe about our worth and value, especially compared to others or what our culture or social media tells us we should be. And boy, you know, I pardon me, but, uh, I’m, uh, I do not believe so much of what we see because it’s curated and it’s fake. It’s not real. It’s not real life.
And yet, these are the things that are being lifted up as models of, of finding our true identity. Like, if – you will be happy if you do this, you’ll be happy if you identify this way. You’ll be happy, if you, you know, follow this pathway and express yourself authentically and all the time, Jesus is saying, no, you don’t,
those roads lead you to nowhere. They, they lead you to death. A thousand deaths have no answers. It leads to a dead end alley. The culture has nothing to give us, it doesn’t. Not really. Not when it comes to real life. Not when it comes to true identity. I’ll stand with Jesus any day. And I invite you to do that, too.
And I know so many of you have. You know, and I want to say this as well. I know that a lot of us are, you know, struggling, uh, with maybe even sometimes a very real sense of inadequacy. We feel like we don’t measure up. And again, I think there’s a lot of reasons why we could feel that way. Um, you know, so we’re, how can I say it; when we feel like we don’t measure up or we don’t look like the things that are admired, those insecurities bore in on us.
And we feel like our life isn’t working right. And, and, you know, this can be true, even for a believer in Jesus, someone who’s opened themselves up to the Lord’s touch. And I always want to encourage you to do that, but it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, all of our struggles go away. There are times where God did some miraculous healing in our lives, and we will see an area of our life immediately transformed.
I, it’s stunning. And I’ve watched that happen both in my life and the lives of other people. You know, their lives have been touched and transformed sometimes in miraculous ways that I can only say that’s a God thing. That’s something the Lord only could do, the master physician at work. But then there are other things that we will carry with us and will still struggle with and probably will be struggling with them in some ways to the end of our days, until ultimately we see Him and, you know, we’re given something new: full deliverance and freedom.
That we now have a taste of, the love of God at work in our lives, fully realized. Wow, that’s going to be something. But I do think a lot of us may struggle, struggle with maybe feeling some times that we don’t measure up. We, we sense our inadequacy. And so we’re either, like I said, giving up because we feel like, what’s the point.
So some of us give up, we do, we just give up. And others of us try to prove up. If I can use that phrase, we want to prove that we do. And so we’re, we’re our, our story is always about trying to show that we’re not this story and that is a different kind of, of, you know, I would call brokenness it’s it’s a different, it’s a different way of, of, of surrendering.
I mean, sometimes we surrender by just not even trying anymore. We quit, we quit and then quitting becomes a pattern in life. I think we understand that. And then other times we want to prove this is who we are. And so we take on something that wasn’t really meant for us. It wasn’t what Christ wants us to be.
We were trying to make our identity something other than what it really should be in Jesus, because there’s peace where He is. There’s love where He is. There’s there’s growth, there’s humility, there’s hunger. There’s, there’s, there’s wonderful things. And so, you know, some of us may feel less worthy, less lovable, less beautiful.
So we struggle. In our secret times we struggle. We may struggle with depression or addiction or self hatred, or even self harm. And yet the Lord invites us to find ourselves in Him, loved ones. Just to know that He said, I Am the bread of life. If you, if you let Me into your life and you have Me at the center of your life, you’re not going to hunger and you’re not going to thirst.
I mean, you’re going to, He invites us to drink from His table. And to eat the bread that He has for us. And so if I can say this to you, oh greatly loved one. We, we must, just like the listeners in Jesus’ day, decide where we are going to find our story, our truest identity. So let’s not imitate or be overly influenced by the ideals or opinions
of our culture, which are as unstable as water. Let us instead determine to find ourselves in Him. The true bread sent from above that wants to satisfy us at the deepest levels and show us the way Lord, help us to do that. Really, and we would just pray for that. Lord, help us to do that. So, you know, I have another thought I want to share with you on the backside of our song, but I, I do wanna remind everybody that it’s time that I get to do it.
Don’t forget, you know, about our giving time. So many of you have been amazing in your tithes and your offerings in a way in which you’ve honored the Lord. And that’s awesome because honestly that’s how we have a church and that’s how we’re able to do all of this. But even more, it’s the way that we honor the Lord.
And we say to Him that He’s more important than anything that is going to ultimately be let go of. So, you know, with that in mind, don’t forget, you can honor Him and give faithfully through a variety of ways. You can send it into our offices, as some of you do, the traditional way. You can give it online directly, or you can give it through the app, but like I always say, give Him first your heart.