Bread of Life
In this entry we explore one of seven statements made by Jesus recorded in John’s gospel. As Jesus’ ministry took off, he often found himself surrounded by people. The combination of his powerful works and authoritative words drew large crowds of people. In John chapter 6 we find Jesus with one such crowd. As the day goes on and listeners get hungry, Jesus takes a boys sack lunch and feeds thousands of people. (We will revisit this event as the fourth sign offered by John) The next day the crowd hunts him down and Jesus knows exactly why. They were not so much impressed with him as they were interested in eating again. If you could turn saltines and sardines into a banquet, you too would find yourself with all sorts of new friends. Jesus calls the crowd out and tells them they missed the point. The point is not to separate the gift from the giver. The fact that he was able to multiply a few small fish and loaves was supposed to inform the crowd about his identity, but they had not understood. Instead of truly seeking for the significance of the sign, they were just interested in their next meal. The crowds inability to discern the meaning of yesterday’s sign prompted Jesus to reveal a facet of his identity explicitly. In the first of 8 times in Johns book, Jesus is going to speak a self-revelatory word which helps us to form an idea of his identity. These statements go much deeper than our usually superficial responses to the question, ‘who are you?’ We usually answer the question with our occupation or our favorite hobby. Sometimes we go a little deeper and answer the question relationally, but rarely do we get down deep and offer a truth about our core identity. Not so with Jesus. In these 8 statements, he offers us deep truths emanating from his own self-understanding. Taken together, we are able to form a more complete picture of he man/God named Jesus. So, here, Jesus tells us he is the bread of life.
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Bread of life. When was the last time you missed a meal, and what was the experience like? Sometimes we will skip a meal or meals by choice, for religious or health motives. Even when chosen it is not always a pleasant experience. Many of us consume three square meals a day. Whatever our dietary habits, none of us believe we can just decide to stop eating. We are absolutely dependent upon acquiring sufficient nutritional input to sustain life. Whether your income allows you to dine at the finest steakhouses or you are counting dollars at the end of the month for a run to Wal-Mart, all of us must pay the grocery bill. Some of you know what it is like to feel hunger. Jesus makes an audacious statement that he is the bread of life, he satisfies our hunger. He provides what is necessary to sustain life. Looked at another way, all of us know what it is like to “be hungry” metaphorically. We use that phrase with athletes and entrepreneurs, with students and socialites. Many of us know what it is like to meet a specific goal and enjoy the satisfaction that accompanies our success. We also know that the sense of satisfaction is fleeting. Jesus offers relationship with him as the pathway toward true and lasting satisfaction. Jesus exhorts his listeners, and us, to work for the food that leads to eternal life by believing in him (John 6:25-29). It is not Snickers that satisfies, but Jesus. If you are hungry and willing to believe, Jesus is ready to give you himself.
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