“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
– Jesus, to the crowd who has asked for bread from heaven (John 6:51)
On two occasions, Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people in the wilderness, reenacting events from Moses’ day when God provided manna from heaven for His people in the desert. The day after Jesus first fed the people, many returned, hoping for more food.
Instead of performing another sign, Jesus claimed that He Himself was the Bread – the Manna that had come down from heaven. He had come from heaven into the wilderness of the world, amidst a spiritually-wandering people who saw themselves in a theological exile. Jesus then went further than simply associating Himself with bread; He said that whoever would come to Him would never hunger again.
In the agrarian culture of first-century Jews, having bread was essential to survival. There was no endless supply of bread (in dozens of varieties) available at the local market. Simply put: without bread, there was no life. Even today, almost everything we eat comes from something else that has died. Dead animals provide us with meat. Dead wheat gives us bread. Vegetables come from dead plants. When we see how other life dies that we may live, Jesus’ words take on a new meaning.
“I am the Bread of Life” is another way of saying: “Without My death, you cannot live.” Just as bread is the essential element in the human diet, Jesus says that He Himself is the foundation for spiritual life. Without His death, no one else can live. Those who come to Him will never again be hungry. Those who believe in Him will never again thirst. Through His death, we live.
John describes many people turning away and rejecting Jesus after the “Bread” speech. Many today will also find it too hard to swallow that Jesus is more than just one religious teacher in a diverse grocery-store selection of beliefs. Yet, Jesus’ words remain true. Whoever eats the bread that He gives (His flesh) will live eternally. The “open-minded” and “diverse” people who leave room for belief in other religious figures will starve to death.
written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog