Last week we looked at a statement Jesus used rather a lot in the gospel of John: ‘I am’. This statement He used to point to the fact that He is God. Today we are going to look at the first of seven famous ‘I am’s’ that Jesus used in the rest of John’s gospel: ‘I am the bread of life’. Here is the passage:
26 “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 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.” 28 Then they said to Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 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. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”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.” (John 6:26-35).
This conversation with the crowd happens the very next day after Jesus has fed the 5000 men (plus women and children).
Bread is readily available today and we can quite easily survive without it, but in Jesus’ time it was the basic part of the diet. For some of the poor it was the only thing they had to eat.
Jesus often used everyday items to make a spiritual point; the problem was that most people took Him literally and missed the point. They followed Him around because they were hoping Jesus would supply their physical needs. They wanted a continuous supply of bread, much like the manna that God gave to the Israelites whilst in the desert in the days of Moses. They had mistakenly believed that it was Moses who supplied the manna. However Jesus sets them straight, reminding them that actually it was God’s provision. Jesus now states that He is the bread that God the father supplies. He is the spiritual bread, who now satisfies for all time.
Coming to Jesus is not like going to a shop for a daily supply of bread. He is the one we come to and believe in to find salvation and eternal life. He doesn’t say “come to church”, “help the poor” or even “believe in God”. He wants us to come to Him as the source of our sustenance and complete satisfaction. He is the focus and the point of it all.
It’s not specifically mentioned in this passage, but feeding on Jesus echoes the ‘Lord’s supper’ where we remember what Jesus has done for us as we feast on His body.
How about you? Do you mostly think about the material side of life; money, possessions etc? Or do you look beyond this life to the treasures you can store up in heaven? It’s good to regularly check ourselves- it is so easy to revert to thinking about the “here and now” as we get wrapped up in the distractions of our busy lives. We need to remind ourselves that the “here and now” is just a brief sneeze compared to eternity which is, well, forever!