The Bread of Life
19 Nov 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
The Bread of Life
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst'.
What was the background to this intriguing statement in John 6: 35? I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
To understand the depth of Jesus' words we need to review the events that led up to the discussion between He and His disciples and which ended with this proclamation.
Jesus had been teaching and healing the sick around Bethsaida just north of the Sea of Galilee. The Scriptures tell us that the miracles that took place here were to culminate in the feeding of the five thousand with five little loaves of bread and two small fish. This dramatic miracle left no doubt in the minds of the people that Jesus was indeed the prophet they had long been waiting for (John 6: 14). They wanted to force Jesus to be King in place of Herod and the disciples were blaming each other for not supporting this move. After a time, Jesus had climbed to a nearby hill to pray while the disciples travelled back to Capernaum by boat (John 6: 15-17). During their journey, a storm arose and while fearing for their lives, Jesus walks towards them on the water, steps onto the boat and the winds automatically cease.
On reaching the shore they are again surrounded by crowds of people and Jesus makes the following comments to them in John 6: 26-35. Let's read what He had to say. (Paraphrased)
Why were you so eager to find me? You seem more interested in being fed than in what yesterday's miracle told you about the kingdom of God. V27 Don't spend your lives working for food that spoils, but work for food that lasts and gives eternal life. Only the Son of God can give you this food because the Father has put His seal of approval on Him. V28 They said to Him. 'What does God expect us to do? V29 Jesus said, 'The first thing to do is to believe in the One whom God has sent.' V30 They said, 'What sign can you give us so that we can know that you are the One God has sent? Show us so that we can believe in you. V31 Our forefathers were given a sign in the wilderness when God rained down food from heaven. As the Scriptures say, 'He provided them bread from heaven so they would not go hungry.' V32 Jesus said, 'In Moses' time, God gave your forefathers food from heaven because they were in the wilderness, but my Father was eager to give them food for their souls. V33 This manna has now come down from heaven and is made visible in the One whom the Father has sent.' V34 They said, 'Lord if you are the One who has this special manna, give it to us and we'll always eat it.' V35 Jesus said, 'I am that manna. I am God's bread from heaven and the one who gives life to the soul. He who accepts me will never hunger for spiritual food, and he who believes in me will never thirst spiritually.
It is interesting to note that the manna, in its natural form, God originally called bread in Ex.16: 4-32. Exodus 16: 32 tells us it resembled the coriander seed, and the dull white grains were seen to be smaller than wheat. Many of the Hebrews of the Exodus period, referred disparagingly to the manna as 'this light bread' and complained bitterly to Moses in Numbers 21: 5 that, 'There is no bread'. However, the Psalmist in Ps 78: 25 was to refer to it as 'the bread of angels' or angel bread.
Jesus is now telling the people around them that while their forefathers received manna in the desert, they were to receive better things reserved for them, the true bread or food from heaven. Jesus is bread to the soul, just like everyday bread is to the body. He is the ever living, everlasting bread.
Let me tell you, that the doctrine of our crucified Lord today is as strong and as comforting to the believer as it ever was (Henry, 1971: 1538).
While the manna only preserved and supported life, Christ gives life to those who were dead in their sins. While the manna was only given to the Hebrews, Jesus Christ is given for the life of the world (Ibid). He is the true bread of which the manna was a type and figure of what was to come (Ibid).
Bread has often been called the staff of life. It represents, or symbolises, all food necessary for human existence.
Therefore, those who have once tasted the true Bread of Life will have no more desire for the things of this world, but will always pray as in John 6: 34, 'Lord, evermore give us this bread'. It becomes a sad day when Christians, who have once eaten the Bread of Life, lose their hunger for it.
The Scriptures make many symbolic references to bread. We read in Matt 4: 3-4 where Satan tempted Jesus by saying, 'If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.' But Jesus answered, 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, 'Give us this day our daily bread' (Matt 6: 11).
Christ is the bread of life and the water of life - our spiritual food and our spiritual drink.
Jesus was born at Bethlehem, which interestingly enough, means, 'house of bread.' He is not only called the Bread of Life, but the Bread of God, the True Bread, and the Bread from Heaven (John 6: 32,33) (Richards, 2004: 111).
'On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper: And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said, 'Take, eat, this is My body (Matt 26: 26)' (Nelson, 1986: 191).
Like the good corn that is bruised and broken, and the fine flour that is baked, He gave His flesh for the life of the world (Richards, 2004: 111). By His sacrifice on Calvary He became the Bread of Life for His people that they may eat of Him spiritually and find forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
As one old writer well says of our need of Him, 'Without bread, there is no feast, with bread, there need be no famine' (Ibid).
'The Lord's Supper - the feast of commemoration, the feast of communion and love, represents all this (1Cor. 10: 16,17). As believers we eat and drink of Christ's bounty (Isa. 55: 1,2). We taste of the Lord's goodness( Ps 34: 8). We sit down as guests at His banqueting house (Song of Sol. 2:4). We are 'abundantly satisfied' with the good things of the Lord's house while we drink of the river of …[His] pleasures' (Ps 36: 8) (Ibid). And we do this until He comes again.
Dear friends, this morning we have taken part in this wonderful service, which as we have already noted, reminds us of Jesus' death on Calvary. By His sacrifice He became the bread of life for us. We are told that once we have tasted the true bread we should have no more desire for the things of this world. We will always pray as suggested in John 6: 34, 'Lord, evermore give us this bread. (REPEAT) We serve a wonderful Saviour and it is my prayer this morning that we never lose the hunger for this bread that our Lord has so willingly given to us all.
Henry, M. (1971) Matthew Henry's Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House
Lockyer, Sr. H. (1986) Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Richards, H.M.S. (2004) 'The Promises of God'. Hagerstown: Review & Herald Publishing Co.
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