And Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”John 6:35
Breaking Bread with Jesus
Jesus had been performing miracles in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee: restoring sight to the blind, making the lame to walk again, and healing all manner of diseases. As you can well imagine, a great crowd had gathered around Him, a crowd of people wanting to be healed, and a bigger crowd of onlookers, wanting to see these miracles for themselves. But Jesus, as a man, grew tired, and He withdrew with His twelve disciples to a quiet place to rest.
It did not take long, however, before someone spotted them, and a new crowd formed. Did Jesus send them away? No. Instead, He saw an opportunity to meet a need that went far deeper than blindness, lameness, or sickness. Jesus wanted to heal broken hearts and bring eternal souls into the kingdom of heaven. So He turned to Philip, who stood nearby, and asked, “Where can we buy bread for all of these people to eat?”
Philip answered [my paraphrase], “Lord, there is no way we could afford to even give them each a bite of bread.”
Andrew, another one of the disciples, heard Philip and Jesus talking, and he chimed in, saying, “There is a boy here who has a lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. But what are they among so many?”
Jesus was undisturbed by their doubt, and simply said, “Make the men sit down.” The Bible tells us there were about five thousand men gathered there. The Bible does not say how many women and children were present, though we know at least one boy was there with his lunch. Do you find it amazing that the boy was willing to part with his lunch? Did he think he was going to go hungry? Or did he have more faith than the disciples did? I personally believe his faith was strong, for the Bible tells us that we must come as a child when we come to God for salvation.
When everyone was seated on the grass, Jesus blessed that little lunch, then began to break the loaves and fish into pieces. He gave the pieces to His disciples, and they distributed the food to the hungry crowd. Everyone ate until they were completely satisfied, and then Jesus sent the disciples back among the crowd to gather up the leftovers. They filled twelve baskets with the fragments that remained! I don’t know how big those baskets were, but even if they were no larger than the bread basket we pass around the table at supper, they still gathered more than what they started with. “Little is much, when God is in it!”
Show Us a Sign
The next day, news of this amazing feast had spread far and wide, and people came again to find Jesus. Most of them only wanted another free meal, but today Jesus had something far different on the menu. And He called them out, saying, “You seek me because I fed you. Labor not for the food that perishes, but for that which endures unto everlasting life.”
Attentive, they asked, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”
But they were not expecting the answer that came. They were looking for some ritual they would have to perform, or perhaps some good deed. Instead, Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” Believe. That’s all you have to do for salvation? Yes!
This was too easy, and not at all what the people wanted. Only yesterday they had accepted Jesus on the merits of His miracles, and wanted to make Him their king. But now that He has turned from meeting their physical needs to their spiritual ones, they wanted nothing to do with Him. Now the signs of yesterday meant nothing, and they demanded of Him a new sign. They referred back to Moses, and the manna that fell from heaven for 40 years. They believed that if Jesus were truly the Messiah, He would continue to feed them, as Moses continually fed the Israelites in the wilderness. But this was not Jesus’ plan, nor would He be manipulated. He did not come to fill their bellies, but their hearts. He answered them, “Moses did not give you that 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.”
This sounded promising at first, and the men were interested. “Lord, from now on, give us this bread.” Sure, they had been partial to the merchant down the street, but that bread only satisfied for a little while, and then they would be hungry again. Just imagine eating bread that would satisfy forever! Never feel hunger again! What freedom! But they missed the point.
I AM the Bread of Life
Jesus explained further. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst. But I told you that you have seen Me and believe not. All whom the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and he who comes to Me I will not cast out under any circumstances. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the Father’s will, who has sent Me: that of all whom He has given Me, I should lose none, but should raise them up again at the last day.”
Jesus could not have been more plain in His speech, and yet many turned back that day and never followed Him again. Why? Because their hearts were not open to the truth. We still see that response today, don’t we?
The people murmured among themselves, wondering what manner of man this was. They knew Jesus’ family, for He grew up near where they were standing. It was one thing for them to accept Him as Messiah when they thought He had come to set up His kingdom, but this emphasis on eternal things was too hard for them to comprehend. They could believe He had the power of God, but Jesus had made Himself equal with God. If this were not true, it would be blasphemy, and just cause for death.
Jesus continued to speak. “He who believes on Me has everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they are dead. This [pointing to Himself] is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If any man eats of this bread [again pointing to Himself], he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus was speaking literally, but not cannibalistically. In other words, He was not telling them that they had to literally eat the flesh of His body and drink the blood that flowed through His veins. No. Jesus was referring to His death on the cross, when He would give His body to be crucified, and His blood to be shed for the remission of our sins forever.
Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, was broken for you and me. He hung in shame upon a rugged cross. Men did that to Him, but they did not take His life—He laid it down. When judgment was past, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished,” and then He gave up the ghost. Does that sound like defeat to you? No way!
Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.I Corinthians 15:54-57
Three days later, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead to live forever, bringing the keys to death and hell with Him. Now He is seated on the right hand of the Father, interceding for us, as we saw in our study of John 17.
Have you tasted of the Bread of Life? Let me remind you of Jesus’ words:
All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the Father’s will who has sent Me, that of all that He has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.John 6:37-39
Come to Jesus Christ today, and partake of the Bread of Life, that your soul may never hunger.
Image credited to nikkiboruch.com