Seven “I AM’s”, Starting With the Bread of Life

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; Jesus said 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…

More Impressive Than a Big Mac

“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. This is a miracle we take for granted a bit, but stop for a moment and try to imagine the impact it had on the people who were there. Jesus had just fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and fast food was not yet available on every corner. Yes this rabbi was a pretty good preacher, but this crowd was now following him around hoping for another free meal.

bread of life

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…

A Recipe for Life

The image of eating bread was certainly common enough in first-century Judea. 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. It often referred to something other than what they served for lunch and dinner.

Unleavened bread had been a big part of Jewish meals since the Exodus. It was prescribed by the law of Moses, and it was part of every ceremonial meal celebrating the Passover. The connection of bread to life is something every Jewish person would have understood almost as if it had been part of their DNA.

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.)

Nutrition that Matters

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.

Beggar’s Bread

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.

To purchase my newest book Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Did you Know You Might Be a Priest? Here’s Why!

The priestly function is as old as the Bible, and we tend to think of a priest in sacramental terms (Mass), or as Father Joe or Tim… But it actually has nothing to do the Catholic church. The Biblical definition of priest is far more universal than any denominational function, and the application of that function may  just strike closer to home than you think…

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIV)

The Priest does What, Exactly?

For as long as men have lived in communities, there have been priests. Most cultures in ancient times had priests who represented gods and conducted religious rituals. Joseph married the daughter of Potiphera, who was a priest of On. Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was a priest of Midian. A prophet by Biblical definition one who speaks God’s word to men. A priest has the inverse function, in that he intercedes for men back to God. Priests can administer holy rites and conduct sacrifices, providing mediation and healing between men and God.

The first mention of a priest in the Bible was in Genesis 14. Lot and his family were carried off after a defeat of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah by an alliance led by Kedorlaomer. Abram took 318 warriors and went and rescued Lot from these marauding kings. Upon his return, it says “Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:18-20, NIV)

Priests and Redemption…

After perhaps the first story of redemption in the Bible (since Abram went into enemy territory and rescued his own, bringing them back from hostile captivity), we meet the first priest. He represents the God Most High, he blesses Abram, serves bread and wine, and gives God all the credit. Sound familiar?

The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus “forever a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6), and most scholars feel that Melchizedek is a Theophany, or a pre-incarnation appearance by Christ. Jesus himself certainly pointed us back to this passage when he served bread and wine at the last supper, and he was certainly the King of Peace (Salem). Based on what I saw on our trip to Israel, it’s obvious from this picture I took there that Melchizedek is still recognized around Jerusalem:

priest Melchizidek

Meeting the Qualifications

It’s interesting stuff worthy of further study, but for now I’ll just point out a couple of things. 1) Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, and yet remained sinless. As a sinless man, he was uniquely qualified to administer sacred rites (such as a sacrifice).
2) Jesus is called our high priest, and He is actually the ONLY person ever qualified to serve in that office on his own merit. As a man without sin, truly consecrated, he could certainly represent God to all of us, and show us what serving God truly looks like.

priest Jesus

3) As a priest without spot or blemish, he not only administered sacrifice but also became the sacrifice on our behalf. So what does all this have to do with you? Think about what Peter wrote to all believers: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

If you are a follower of Jesus, Peter says, YOU are a priest, and you are “God’s special possession.” So as a priest, start serving. Declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness. And as someone called out of darkness, keep shining. That’s what we priests are called to do!

The Role You Didn’t Know You Had

Abram saved his people, and the Lord gave him a sign:
He met the priest Melchizedek, who served him bread and wine.
Of all the jobs we tend to think we’re qualified for the least,
Perhaps the one we most avoid is acting as a priest.
We know that Jesus as a priest was truly qualified,
And that his right to fill that role was surely bona fide;
But Peter says that we are priests. God gave us every right
To sing His praise since we were called from darkness into light.
So if you doubt your status, probably just like I doubt mine,
Do this: Accept God’s calling to the light, and let yours shine.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread