The Bread of Life

The Bread of Life

There isn’t any aisle in the grocery store that gives me as much anxiety as walking down the bread aisle. The options are endless and what’s the difference between whole grain and whole wheat? What are these ingredients and now which brand? When food is instantaneous for us and we can have as much bread as we please, it can be a little hard to imagine going to listen to a preacher without being able to easily access a snack or having to wait for God to provide you with food while you’re wandering the wilderness.

Let’s try to put ourselves in a place of when we have been in complete surrender and reliance on God, waiting for Him to provide manna. God providing manna for His people is a symbol of His provision and fulfillment of promises for the Israelites. It’s also used as the first “I AM” statement in John. While Jesus’s main teaching starts at 6:22, the full story starts at the 4th sign shown in John, Feeding the 5,000. It’s worth noting that this Messianic sign is the only one shared in all 4 Gospels, meaning we should pay attention and listen to what Jesus was trying to teach through this sign.

The story starts in Tiberias, John 6:1-14, and points towards Jesus as Messiah. A remake, if you will, of God providing manna in the desert. For Israelites this was a clear sign that Jesus was a prophet and references back to Moses’s words in Deuteronomy 18:15-22

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him.

Deuteronomy 18:18

Manna was God’s provision for His people, a reminder to remain completely dependent on Him and that He would provide to meet their physical needs until they could inherent their land. God uses these signs of provision and meeting physical needs to continuously point towards His sovereignty and plan for redemption. Yet, even after performing a significant sign to reveal Jesus as a fulfillment of Moses’s words, Jesus withdrew from the crowds and didn’t provide the full teaching of His actions. While He was alone, some of the disciples started to cross the Sea of Galilee but then winds and waves picked up and Jesus walked across the water to calm the sea and joined the disciples to the other side.

When the crowd finally sought Jesus out and caught up with Him, there’s a bit of a mic drop moment, John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that last for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:35

God loves and cares about us, He provides and meets tangible needs and in the same way we’ve been told to meet needs of others (James 2:14-17; Acts 20:35). The story can never end there though, Jesus tell us the physical will fade away and at some point, everyone needs to be faced with the decision of whether we believe in the Son of Man who can give us everlasting life. Even after seeing a miracle, people were still too stubborn to understand who Jesus was. He tries again and again to help people understand that the God who sent manna from Heaven also sent Him, the ultimate Bread of Life, come to do the will of the Father. Yet some people couldn’t believe and ultimately, they turned around and stopped following Jesus, His teaching became too hard (John 6:66) Yet some believed, 6:68-69 “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”

 I wonder how often God has fed us. How often He’s moved in our lives. How often He’s healed. How often He’s answered prayers. Yet we didn’t understand, and we didn’t see. The Son of Man, both human and divine. He came to provide eternal life and redemption, reconciling us back to God. At some point, we must decide. God meets us where we’re at, He sees and speaks to us, but will we choose to follow, or will we turn around? Jesus is drawing you near, feeding your belly but waiting until you allow Him to fill your soul. Eventually we will all die, no matter how much manna we’re given. But when we trust in Christ and allow Him to be our sustenance, we receive eternal joy and life (John 6:47-51).

He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:3

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