Over the last couple of days, I have mentioned the fact that Jesus made seven great “I am” Statements in John, so here they are: I am the bread of life; I am the light of the world; I am the door; I am the good shepherd; I am the resurrection and the life; I am the way, the truth, and the life; and I am the true vine. Let’s take a look at them to see if perhaps they can tell us something more about who He is…
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV) This statement was made to an adoring crowd right after the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Since Jesus had just fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and since fast food had not yet put a restaurant on every corner, the crowd was following him around hoping for another free meal.
In verse 7 Philip said “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Food was not plentiful in occupied Judea, and many people lived hand-to-mouth. A miracle-working man who was able to feed a huge crowd became an instant magnet for curious crowds, and the people who had just been treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet were lining up for seconds. While the crowd is excited about another meal, Jesus redirects his followers from their stomachs to their hearts…
The image of eating bread was certainly common enough in first-century Judea, and it is one that everyone could relate to. It was a staple of life and certainly an important part of the nutritional pyramid there in Galilee. But a quick glance through Scripture reminds us that it was also a spiritual metaphor as well, and often referred to something other than what they served for lunch and dinner.
When he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he told the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He is talking here again about spiritual food, just as he was pointing the crowd to eternal sustenance that will never fail. He is reminding them of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness from Exodus 16, of Melchizedek’s offering of loaves and wine in Genesis 14, of David eating the show-bread from the temple in 1 Samuel 21, and of God’s fundamental connection to everyday life (“Give us this day our daily bread”, Matthew 6:11.)
Jesus offered himself as spiritual food to the crowd, and challenged them to move beyond the moment into eternity. He also offers himself to us, inferring that if we come to him, we will never go hungry. Jeremiah 15:16 says much the same thing: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” What bread have you been eating lately? How’s your spiritual appetite? Have you been skipping meals? Or are you full? Perhaps it is time to sit at the feet of the Master, and eat.
He’s the bread of life we should eat every day;
He’s the light who helps us to find our way,
And the Door to the Kingdom that has no end:
Our Shepherd, protector, our guide and friend…
He’s the resurrection who overcame strife;
He’s surely the way, the truth, the life,
The Living Vine from whom we grow!
The Rabbi you should get to know…
He’s the Carpenter who became a Lamb,
He’s the Son of God, the Great I AM,
The One who came back from the dead
To offer us this Living Bread.
I believe every word He said.
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