October 31, 2000
By JERRY FIGUEROA
Jesus, the Bread of Life
Bread. You can get bread anywhere - at the nearby bagel shop or as bowls for clam chowder - youre options here in the 21st century are endless. The popularity of bread makers at home are soaring, bread seems to be on everyones taste buds along with a cup of coffee.
Editor's Note: The language, or lingo, used in this article is primarily intended for young people.
Bread doesnt just come in rectangle loaves, but in circles, and in fancy wrappers, or even none at all. The important thing though is not its size or shape, just the ingredients and the taste. Bread is the foundation of the food pyramid (remember, the five food groups?) So when Jesus said He was the bread of life, He tried to get people to see how important He is to their spiritual welfare. When we invite people to think about Jesus, we invite them to the source of spiritual food that can satisfy them now and for all time.
Jesus Fed Over 5,000
He multiplied the loaves and the fish
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted. - John 6:11-12
The Book of John centers around the miracles and teachings of Jesus. He described them so that the readers would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus performed major five miracles during His ministry:
- At Cana when He turned the water into wine
- When He healed the officials son
- The crippled man by the pool
- The feeding of the 5,000
- When He walked on water
In Chapter 6, were told that the people flocked to Jesus because they had seen the miracles He had performed. Then at a certain time He tried to rest with His disciples but the people kept after him and wouldnt leave. So Jesus challenged His disciples with a totally impossible assignment: find enough food to feed the people (see verse 5).
It was hopeless. They didnt have enough money and their only offer of help came from a boy. It was ridiculous to think the boy and his basket could do any good, but Jesus had other plans.
After the people sat down, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and thanked God for them. As the food was being passed around, the basket stayed full - it continued to multiply. And in the end, they ate as much as they wanted - in fact, it took twelve baskets to hold the leftovers. (verse 13).
Jesus demonstrated His eternal powers of creation right there on that sandy beach. He also showed His compassion on those who flocked around Him that afternoon. He took what was offered to Him and used it to feed the hungry people and to point out His power and importance - well see how and why in just a minute.
He was called the prophet
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world. - John 6:14
The crowd, of course, recognized that they had seen a miracle, or sign. That is, it was a sign of Gods anointing of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah. The people of the day lived in strong expectation of the Messiahs coming, especially since John the Baptist had just been killed. They connected the miracle of the bread and fish with Gods prophet Moses, who also had fed the people in the desert (see Deuteronomy 18:15).
They were so overwhelmed that they wanted to make Jesus king right there on the spot. They were looking for a leader to take over their current Roman government. But Jesus escaped the crowd to take some time to pray, and the disciples went off to the western side of the Sea of Galilee.
However, they ran into a storm, and then Jesus appeared walking on the water. With Him on board, they made port at Capernaum. It was impossible to escape the crowds which were now following Jesus to the port.
Jesus Interpreted What They Wanted
The crowds wanted more food
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves of bread and had your fill." - John 6:26
Just as He had done other times, Jesus teachings were prompted by a question. In this case, someone asked a pretty simple question, When did you get here?. But Jesus really knew that they were really interested in seeing more miracles, not in how or when He had crossed the lake. They were chasing Him because He had fed them - they wanted something that was temporary, not spiritual.
He gives eternal food
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. - John 6:27
Jesus took this moment at the port to make a real strong point. Its possible to dedicate ones life to food that spoils, that is, for purely physical goals and satisfactions. Jesus said that it was a waste of time because no matter how good it looks or tastes, it was gonna rot. It wouldnt provide lasting satisfaction, but only temporary pleasure.
On the other hand, it is possible to pursue food that endures to eternal life. This food will not rot, it will last, and it will satisfy the person for all time. Of course, this is spiritual food, not meat and potatoes.
Jesus was now explaining His example using food. He told the crowd to work for it, and then He would give it to them. To work for it means to get rid of worldly goals and shoot for the life above with Christ. When Jesus sees us wanting eternal food, He gives it to us and satisfies us forever. Faith unlocks the Lords refrigerator. Jesus clearly defined doing Gods work as believing in Him (see verse 29).
To back up His claim to deliver this eternal food, Jesus said Gods seal of approval rested in Him. With Gods approval comes Gods authority. The Son of Man is Gods eternal Son, with all of the credentials of divine power and authority. Because of who He is, we can be sure that our quest for eternal food will be satisfied.
Jesus Offered The Bread Of Life
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. - John 6:35
When Jesus challenged the people to believe in Him as Gods anointed messenger, they wanted another miracle like Moses did in providing manna (something like bread) in the desert. Jesus tried to explain the difference between temporal food and eternal food, between physical and spiritual needs.
A lot better than manna was Gods gift of true bread that gives life to the world (verse 32-33). And right away these people started shouting for this bread. So, life-giving bread from God was something really special. And they were thinking where can we get it and eat it. Jesus was now telling them that it was right in front of them, He was the spiritual Bread of Life. Not physical life, but spiritual life.
Lets think about it. Jesus created physical bread when he fed the 5,000 - He had met the needs of their physical hunger (what their stomach wanted). Now, He wanted to meet their spiritual needs (what their soul needed). They had to figure out that He was where eternal life came from. This eternal life was so important because sin brought spiritual death.
Everyone is dead in sin (see Ephesians 2:1). So, everyone needs to eat the Bread of Life. Jesus is the bread of eternal life because He takes away sin and makes us good to go, forever.
He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. - John 6:35
Jesus used hunger and thirst - everyone knew what those things were - the hungry had been filled when Jesus used the little boys basket of bread and fish. But how could He give a life totally free of hunger and thirst? Would He come down and do a miracle every time people were hungry or thirsty?
His radical promise forced people to think. Jesus wanted them to make the leap from thinking physically to thinking spiritually - from their stomach and tongues, to their heart and their soul. He threw down this outrageous promise to meet their spiritual needs for all time: they would never hunger and they would never thirst if they came to Him.
Of course, it carried some strings - they had to come to Him and believe in Him. They had to turn on their minds, their will, and their hearts - they had to commit themselves to Him.
The deal that Jesus gave here shows that faith is something you gotta keep doing, not something that just kicks back and goes along for the ride. Our faith in Him says that, I believe You are who You say You are, and I am trusting You to feed and water me for eternity.
Come and believe means that you really gotta believe Jesus radical promise. For those people that were hearing at Capernaum, it meant stepping out of the crowd of the unbelieving miracle-seekers and crossing the line from unbelief to belief (you cant get the bread at the store unless you believe that its there).
Jesus claim and promise is something you cant find anywhere else. This is why for some people, choosing Jesus as the Bread of Life is a difficult decision. There are all kinds of phony breads. People might think their "bread" is their work, their marriage, what others think of them, etc. In the end, all of those things spoil. Only Jesus gives that bread that satisfies the deepest needs that we have.
So which bread are you eating today? Is it something you found in the refrigerator that you got at the market down the street? Or is it the real thing, Jesus?
God bless you!
5 Daily Bible Verses
Here are five verses you can study over the next five days to re-enforce the message presented here:
- Day 1: John 6:1-15
Theres a boy here
- Day 2: John 6:16-24
It is I; Do not be afraid
- Day 3: John 6:25-40
Always give us this bread
- Day 4: John 6:41-51
I am the bread of life
- Day 5: John 6:52-59
This bread came down from heaven
Jerry Figueroa at firstname.lastname@example.org welcomes your comments and suggestions.
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