Bread of Life
I am the bread of life (v.35).
I’ve never known true, life-threatening hunger. There have been occasions where my stomach gnawed for food and where I felt the ragged edge of hunger pains. I’ve never known, however, the kind of hunger you see when you visit slums in Sierra Leone or refugee camps in the Sudan. That hunger is palpable in a place where people are barely holding on to life.
One day, Jesus had just performed one of His most astounding miracles—feeding thousands by multiplying a boy’s few small fish and chunks of bread (John 6:10). Jesus was concerned that the people have food, and so He provided it for them. As one might expect, the people were mesmerized by this miracle worker and were eager to stay near so that they would have a front row seat for His next feat. But Jesus knew their motives were shallow. “You want to be with Me because I fed you,” Jesus rebuked, “not because you understood the miraculous signs” (John 6:26).
In John’s gospel, Jesus’ signs were signals He used to reveal the deeper truth of who He was—Israel’s Messiah come from God to rescue them. He recognized, however, that the people didn’t want Him as Messiah. They only wanted the food. Or the miracles. They wanted the tricks, but they didn’t want God. But Jesus insisted that the true bread was not what they could stick in their mouths. The true bread was Himself. “I am the bread of life” (6:35), He said.
God doesn’t just meet our desires. God is not the means to getting “the bread,” whatever our “bread” may be: acceptance, power, sense of worth, control, safety, spiritual accomplishment, love, hope, sex, joy. Rather, Jesus is the bread.
Our problem isn’t that we’re too hungry; it’s that we don’t realize how starved we really are.
Look back at the previous story (John 6:1). Why was Jesus concerned for the people? What did He do about it, and what does this tell us about God?
Where do you sense the greatest need and lack in your life? How do you believe God will meet that need?