“Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” - John 6:35 NLT
They came out to the countryside to hear Jesus speak. Thousands of people gathered. People were hungry. There were not any caterers or food trucks standing by. Jesus took a small amount of food, and fed everyone to the full with leftovers!
The day ended. Jesus traveled to another town across the lake. The next day, people crossed the lake in boats to catch up with Jesus. People had lots of questions: Who is Jesus? What else can He do? Can He show us how to do the same thing? What do we have to do for all of this to continue and be possible in our own lives?
Pause the story for a moment.
You and I are very familiar with the next amazing solution for our lives. From diets to gadgets, we are marketed “miracles” that will change our lives forever (individual results may vary). There is something about us that seeks ultimate solution. We want the best and we want it all. As a result, our culture is up to its eyeballs in debt, straining for the next best thing to solve issues in our lives.
Back to the story.
Jesus makes a simple statement to everyone: I am the bread of life. He goes on to respond to their questions by telling them that only one thing is asked of them: Believe in Jesus as God’s Son. Jesus continues by saying, contrary to other food that does not last, He provides food that lasts forever through His very life. Jesus makes a challenge: Focus on what lasts. Physical food spoils. It has to constantly be replenished. Believing in Jesus as the source of eternal food (life forever) that never spoils.
The story continues to a point of conflict. Jesus literally uses the image of His own flesh and blood as that which needs to be fed upon to participate in this life that lasts forever. This was hard for people to understand then as it is now. There was a time, as described in the Old Testament of the Bible, where the flesh and blood of animals were used as a sacrifice for our sins. It was the sacrificing of animals that kept us in relationship with God. This had to be repeated according to the details of God’s law.
Jesus comes along and talks about an eternal sacrifice that does not have to be repeated. It literally involves His own flesh and blood, once and for all. In effect, for everyone to feed on.
There is an ancient meal known as the Passover where the provision of God providing life in the midst of death literally happened. Wine and unleavened bread are taken to remember the day God provided life when death came knocking.
Jesus ties into this history. He knew the people would understand the connection. The way of animal sacrifice was a lot of work and effort. Jesus is taking the entire work of the sacrifice onto Himself, forever. His body. His blood.
In the Church today, we symbolize eating and drinking of Jesus through the sharing of Communion. This sacrament is a repurposing of the Passover. It literally means that Jesus gave us life when death came calling. This meal represents the sacrifice of Jesus to bring us into right standing before God, forever. The entire meal symbolically represents his flesh and blood.
At this point in the story, many people left Jesus. This teaching seemed bizarre and difficult.
Jesus points out that we cannot pull this off in our own effort. It is not enough to simply say, “I am going to do this through my own interest and effort.” It requires the pursuit and invitation of God the Father, Jesus’ Father. The Father draws us to His Son. He invites us and draws us close. With His help and pursuit of us, we are able to respond to Jesus.
The 12 disciples stay with Jesus because of this truth.
Faith in Jesus is not a fad or a trend. Contrary to our “self-help” culture, we cannot pull this off by ourselves. God brings us to Jesus and invites us to the bread of life that lasts forever.
Thank You for being the bread of my life. Father God, thanks for drawing me to Jesus. I love You. Today I give fresh focus to believing and dwelling with You. I long to pursue You and Your kingdom forever.
In Your name Jesus I pray,
Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center