“I Am the Bread of Life”
HomeChurch Devotional 322
These devotionals werewritten during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowedto meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of afull sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 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. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes tome 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. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John6: 30 – 40 (ESV)
Bread is an important symbol throughout the life of Jesus. Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means House of Bread. In the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:4 Satan attempts totrick Jesus into turning stones into bread. Jesus replies that “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”The word of God is our spiritual nourishment at all times. In Matthew 6:11 Jesus gives the disciples a pattern for prayer, what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer” where he teaches the disciples to ask God to “give us this dayor daily bread” as we acknowledge God as provider for all of our needs. Andfinally, we have today’s passage, “I Am the Bread of Life.”
This passage comes after the feeding of the 5,000 in which Jesus has takes a few barley loaves to feed those who are following Him. Afterwards the disciples collect twelve baskets full of the leftover bread. As the people seek for yet another sign that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, Jesus speaks in spiritual terms the people cannot and will not understand.
Jesus had just made some phenomenal claims. He claimed to be the Son of Man; the One who feeds man,who gives man bread which issues forth eternal life; the One whom God hadsealed; the One whom God had sent into the world; and the One upon whom menwere to believe. The people demanded proof. Note two revealing things about thenature of man.
People focus upon the physical and material. They ignore all the signs, even the miracles of God which surround them. Christ had just miraculously fed the crowd, yet the crowd ignored the witness of that particular sign. It was not enough. They were so attached to the earth, to its physical pleasures and material goods, that they wanted more and more. To them Moses had fed Israel for forty years in the wilderness. Christ had fed them only once. Moses had fed Israel with manna falling out ofthe sky from heaven. Christ had merely multiplied bread from a few loaves in His hands.
People demand that they first see, then they will believe. This is contrary to true faith. It is not the way faith works. A man must first believe God, then he sees. However, faith is not fate; it is a matter of the heart, a matter of how the heart must relate to others. God relates with us just as we relate to others. If a person does not believe in us, they do not see; that is, they may ask all they want but it is unlikely that we will do what they ask. But if they believe and trust us, we usually do whatever they ask, and they see their desires and requests fulfilled by our hands. Repeating the above, a man must first believe God, then he sees. Faith must precede sight. Believe God and He will fulfill the desires of your heart.
The people’s complaint was twofold. Christ had not fed them enough—not enough to prove that He was who He claimedto be. Christ had not fed them in the right way, not given”them bread from heaven to eat.”
People never have enough. They crave and crave, never beingfully satisfied. They experience a gnawing hunger, a restlessness, emptiness, loneliness, vacuum, and a lack of purpose, meaning, and significance. Even indealing with God, they never have enough evidence or proof to believe—not within their human nature. People always wants to tell God how to act and dealwith them and their life. People wants their needs met in certain ways. It isnot enough for God to meet their needs; people want their needs met as they will and desire. They try to dictate how God is to act and behave toward them.So much human religion is nothing more than this, nothing more than peopletrying to spell out how God is to act and behave toward them.
Christ is the true bread. Man cannot provide true bread,that is, true satisfaction. Only God can. Moses was not the one who gave Israel the manna from heaven; God was the One who gave the manna. A man has to do something if he wishes to have his hunger met; to be truly filled; to be completely satisfied; to be content; to be comfortable; and to be at peace. A person must look both beyond other people and beyond the things of this world. People and things cannot meet the gnawing hunger of mankind; they cannot provide true satisfaction, for they do not possess the true bread.
God alone provides true bread, that is, provides true satisfaction. Notice three things. First, Christ called God “My Father.” Second, The bread God gives is “true” bread. Finally, the “bread” or “manna” of God is not physical and material bread: it is spiritual. God may provide and actually does promise to provide for the physical necessities of His followers, but physical and material bread is not what Christ was talking about in this passage. Physical and material bread lasts only for a short while. Once consumed, it is gone. Its satisfaction passes and man’s gnawing hunger arises again. But the bread God gives is spiritual bread, that is, spiritual food for the soul. It is the bread that man really needs more than anything else on earth. It is the only bread that can feed and meet the need of man’s hungers, loneliness, restlessness, lack of purpose, emptiness, meaning and significance.
Christ is the Bread of God. In saying this, Christ made at least two points. The origin of the true Bread is God Himself. It is bread which came down from or “out of” heaven itself. This means several things. First, the bread of God is not bread which comes out of the clouds above earth. Rather, it is bread which comes “out of” heaven itself, out of the spiritual dimension of being, from the very presence of God Himself. It is bread which comes from the very household of God. Second, the bread of God is not physical bread. It is of the nature of God Himself, spiritual and eternal bread. Third, the bread of God is possessed by God; therefore, only He can give it, and man cannot have the Bread of God unless God gives it to man. Finally, the Bread of God was a person. Note the personal pronoun “He,” and the word “bread” which is masculine. Note that “He,” the Bread of God who feeds and nourishes man, came down or “out of” heaven. He was not born of the earth. He came from the very presence of God Himself.
The Bread of God gives life to the world. That is the purpose of bread is to give life. Bread gives life by nourishing and sustaining; satisfying; energizing and creating desire (the need) for more and being partaken on a regular basis. Christ and the Word of God gives life to the believer by doing the same five things as bread. The Bread of God came from heaven to give life to the whole world. It was not just to one person or to one nation that He came. He came to the whole world. He came to sacrifice Himself, to feed and save a starving world.
When Christ said I am the Bread of Life, there are four significant points here. First, the people requested the Bread of God. The people called Jesus “Lord,” but how much they understood of His deity is not known. So, this is apparently just an address of respect. However, the point is clear in the Bible. When a person asks for the Bread of God, he must call Jesus “Lord” and be ready to submit to Him as Lord, serving Jesus day by day.
Also notice that the people requested: “give us this bread always.” This was a once-for-all request. The people wanted this Bread of God once-for-all, so that they might have a permanent provision. The Bible is again clear on this point. Salvation, that is, partaking of the Bread of Life, is to be a permanent experience. It is to be a once-for-all experience.
Secondly, in making the phenomenal claim of “I am the Bread of life” Jesus Christ made the claim: He was the true Bread; the Bread of God; and the Bread of Life.
Third, if a person comes to Christ, the Bread of Life, they will never hunger. People have a starving, craving need for life. People crave a life that is full and satisfying; is nourishing and sustaining; is energizing and has its desires fulfilled. If a person comes to Christ, they will never hunger. The gnawing of starvation, the craving for life will be fully satisfied.
Finally, if a person believes, they will never thirst. The picture (symbolism) is switched from hunger to thirst. Aperson’s need is more than met; not only is their hunger satisfied, but their thirst is quenched. Every need of life, of nourishment, and of growth is met. Nothing is left out or lacking. When a person comes to Christ and believes, a continuous action, meaning continuing to believe, every need of their life andgrowth is met. Of course, this does not mean they will never hunger after righteousness. They will, but their hunger and thirst will never gounsatisfied. They “shall be filled.”
In the end Christ was seen but rejected. The point is that the people were without excuse. They had every opportunity in the world. The Bread of God had “come down from heaven.” The Bread of God had come to give life to the world. The Bread of God had been seen. The Bread of God was being seen and proclaimed that very moment. Any of the people could have easilycome to Christ, yet sitting there and hearing the glorious news, they still did not believe.
Seeing the panic buying and hoarding as word of the coronavirus spread is an example of people seeking comfort and peace in the material rather than the spiritual. Bread was one of the first things people began to hoard. Bread shelves were emptied before meat, milk and disinfectants which soon followed suit. None of these will bring any relief from the coronavirus should anyone who has hoarded them become infected. It will still run its course; it will still cause some damage and it will still cause pain and heartache to those who lose a loved one. This is why it is so important to show your faith and have a ready answer for the hope you carry with you.