–“I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE ” — JESUS, THE BREAD OF GOD
SEE JOHN 6
The feeding of the 5,000 men (add women and children) is the only miracle found in all four Gospels apart from the resurrection. It reveals Jesus as the provider of human needs at two levels 1) physical — bread, the staff of life; and 2) spiritual — the bread of God — salvation, eternal life through the Person and work of Christ and what Jesus says is the –“one thing needed” —intimacy with Him. (Luke 10:38-42) We will focus primarily on John’s account in chapter six. As seen here most people wanted Jesus for their physical (temporal) needs only — His gifts and not Himself. –“ Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (v. 26) The people wanted to make Jesus their –“bread king” again to meet their physical needs and probably political needs — freedom from Roman oppression. –“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (v. 15) Jesus has already resisted this temptation in the wilderness when Satan offered Him –“all the kingdoms of the world” – temporal power. (Matthew 4:8) He also ushered His disciples out of that heady atmosphere of temporal power as seen in Mark’s account. –“ Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.” (Mark 6:45-46) He didn’t want them to get the wrong idea about –“the kingdom of God”. The spirit of the world says –“bigger is better,” bigger churches, bigger businesses, but Jesus prefers to have a few truly committed disciples than thousands of people who want Him only for their temporal wants and needs.
Next we see the disciples go from the peak of popularity to the point of peril and in –“the storms of life” learned more about this amazing Man who demonstrated His power over the seas. (vv.16-21; also see Psalm 77:16, 19-20 and 107:25-30) As He came to them they were more afraid of Him (a ghost —Matthew 14:26) than the storm. But Jesus identified Himself as –“I AM” (ego eime) the same Name God used of Himself with Moses: –“ God said to Moses, –“I AM WHO I AM .” (Exodus 3:14) He then calmed the sea –“and they were utterly astonished and worshiped Him saying, You are certainly God’s Son!” (Mark 6:51; Matthew 14:33) –“Immediately the boat was at land.” (v. 21) (Some commentators think this could have been an instant transport to land and another miracle the disciples experienced.) So we see Jesus fulfilling the role of God — feeding, protecting, rescuing and guiding his people through the trials and storms of life.
The next setting is in a synagogue in Capernaum where He gave –“The Bread of Life” discourse. This shows how passionately Jesus wanted people to understand Who He really was — not the temporal bread king but the Son of God Who was willing to give us His –“flesh and blood” (His sinless life and sacrificial death) to deliver us from a selfish and meaningless life now and eternal separation from Him forever. –“ For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”(1 Peter 1:18, 19) And He tells us that the way to enter into that relationship is not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9) but by faith — putting our trust in His perfect, sinless life and His atoning work on the cross as God incarnate. Yet the people just couldn’t get it. Maybe it was because they saw no need for a –“Savior” – no sense of sin. This is certainly true for many of our friends and loved ones who reject Jesus’ gift of salvation. To them He was just the son of Joseph and Mary (v. 42) and when He shocked them by saying that He was the –“living bread” (bread that gives life) and that they must –“eat His flesh and drink His blood” in order to have eternal life, –“many of His disciples (followers — not the twelve) withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore”. (v. 66)
–“ Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." (vv. 64-65) There is a mystery of the sovereign drawing and choosing of God and yet the human response to God’s drawing is also seen in these verses. Our part is to respond to God’s Word and –“choose life that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19; Also see Joshua 24:15) and –“eat and drink” of Jesus (believe and receive) and leave the mystery of God’s electing to Him. Jesus was saying to them and to us that we must take Him into our life by believing in Him and receiving Him. Even as food and water does our bodies no good if we simply believe that it will nourish us — we must eat and drink it. Both belief in Who He is and personal trust and reception of Him into our lives is necessary for salvation. –“ But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) Reciting the creeds won’t save us if we don’t take the next step of personal trust in Jesus. And Scripture calls us to hunger and thirst for the Lord, to feast on the Lord, to sup with the Lord even after salvation (Matthew 5:6; Psalm 63:5; Revelation 3:20) and to abide in Him as He abides in us. (John 15:5)
Jesus refers to His Father or mentions –“Father” by name 17 times in John 6. He was more concerned about pleasing His Father and being an obedient Son than building a big ministry or being popular with the crowds. We must remember that the spirit of the world, the devil and our flesh hates God (Romans 8:7) and genuine faith will not be any more popular among the –“crowds” today than it was in Christ’s times. To become more like our Lord Jesus we too must be more concerned about knowing and doing the Father’s will than anything else. Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for our salvation (–“eat my flesh, drink my blood”) and calls us to offer our bodies as –“living sacrifices” pleasing to God which is our highest act of worship. –“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
What spoke to you from this passage?
Have you –“eaten Jesus’ flesh and drunk His blood?” When and why?
How do you continue to –“feed on Jesus” on an on-going basis?
That we would see Jesus,
Len and Kristen