Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Jesus tells a group who’s following him that he is the bread of life. What the perfect food to pick. Something so universal, something that’s such a staple of life. Most foods, you can find someone who doesn’t like them.
Cheese is amazing. There are people who don’t like cheese. There are people who don’t like fish, or beef. There are even weirdos who don’t like chocolate. But everyone likes bread. It’s a universal staple.
Think about bread for a moment. A lot of restaurants you go to, they just give you a bowl of bread. You go to an Italian restaurant, maybe it’ll be breadsticks, maybe it’ll be bread with some olive oil. You go to a Mexican restaurant, they bring you chips and salsa. The tortilla chip is just bread that they then fried.
They don’t even charge you for it. Just “here, have some bread.”
Go to a Mediterranean restaurant, the meal will come with a pita. An Indian restaurant, it’ll be naan.
And that only works with bread.
Can you imagine going to a restaurant and they bring the table a bowl of broccoli? No! You can’t even imagine that.
Really, a lot of popular chain restaurants are known more for their bread than their actual entrees. No one is really going to Red Lobster for their week old fish and ocean roaches. It’s all about the cheddar bay biscuits. Olive Garden? The breadsticks are the real star of the show.
We love bread.
It plays a major role in so many of our favorite foods. Pizza. Cheeseburgers. Fried chicken.
Meatballs. Already a brilliant idea unto itself. A ball of meat, but we say “needs bread crumbs.”
We add bread to things that have nothing to do with bread. A salad. Mostly vegetables, let’s add bread crumbs. Soup. Mostly liquid, let’s add crackers and put it in a bread bowl. A bowl of ice cream. We look and say “the soup people were onto something. Let’s get rid of the bowl and replace that with a piece of bread.”
Most of our favorite desserts are just sweeter versions of bread. Cake. Donuts. All the best breakfast foods. Bread. Pancakes, waffles, french toast, bagels. We LOVE bread.
Rich people love bread, poor people love bread. Old people love bread, young people love bread. We love it so much that many years ago, people said “I wonder if we can find a way to drink this stuff.” And that’s how beer was invented!
Bread and language
Bread even impacts our language and sayings.
We judge the greatness of achievements and innovation by how it stacks up with sliced bread. We have indoor plumbing, we have cures to horrible disease, we’ve been to the moon, we have the internet. But no, when something great comes along, we compare that to the invention of sliced bread. When we eat together, we call that breaking bread. In many cultures, bread is a symbol of peace. We call money dough and the person who makes more money in a relationship is called the “bread winner.” If someone wants too much out of a situation, we say “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
Bread in the Bible
And then we consider it in the Bible. God feeds the Israelites with manna (which was bread) from heaven. Jesus references that in the Lord’s Prayer when he teaches us to pray “Give us each day our daily bread.” It is bread to which Jesus refers when the devil tempts him. He’s quoting from Deuteronomy but he says “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Even the place where Jesus was born. Bethlehem in Hebrew means “house of bread.”
And it is bread at the Last Supper when Jesus institutes communion which he takes and breaks and says “this is my body, which is broken for you.”
Bread matters in our lives and the Bible.
Jesus is the bread of life
So in John 6, a great crowd has seen miraculous signs done by Jesus. He’s just fed multitudes. But the crowd wanted to be dazzled with greater signs and wonders but Jesus instead explains the significance of the sign when he felt the multitudes.
The manna from heaven was the bread which God gave to the Isrealites to sustain them on their desert wanderings. Jesus is the bread of life which God has given to sustain the human soul.
The people had followed Jesus because he filled their stomachs, but Jesus came to save our souls.
The people wanted to see a physical display of glory and power but Jesus came to fulfill the longings of the human soul.
And it’s for that reason that Jesus is the greater bread. The manna had to be collected everyday. Jesus is the bread which gives eternal life at the moment you believe in him.
But as the manna was collected daily, there is still a daily element to the bread which Jesus provides as he himself is the bread we need everyday for our spiritual sustenance. Without the bread which Jesus provides, we grow spiritually hungry and malnourished. We need to feed upon him everyday.
We need to commune with Christ everyday. Anytime you’re struggling spiritually, you feel like you’re just going through the motions, the first thing you should ask yourself is what your daily time with Jesus is looking like.
Going to him, praying, meditating on his word, serving his people, loving his people, orienting our lives around him.
Jesus is the eternal nourishment and the daily bread without which we will Spiritually starve.
The world wants to just satisfy your body.
If you can just have enough money, you’ll be secure and have what you need. Some people are drawn to intimacy and feel like that will sustain their soul. It’s looking to a physical desire. Some look to prestige and power. Those are still ultimately fleeting accolades that you can’t take with you. Dying people in a dying world honoring one another. Some people look to politics. The right party being in office. Men who are fallen and sinful, flesh and bones are our hope.
The world makes idols of what is fleeting and feeds the body. Jesus feeds the soul.
Jesus is the bread of life.
Where is your hope though? Is it in the material? Is it in today? Is it in what you have or who you are? Is it in what’s in front of you? Or is it in the eternal Lord of creation?
The crowd had said to Jesus: What must we do, to be doing the works of God?
Jesus says: I am the bread of life. whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst
We’re called to come to him. Coming to him in humility, coming to him realizing our needs, realizing our hunger.
And we are to believe in him. To trust in his gospel and his grace. We must recognize that we’re sinners in need of a savior.
That is what we do to receive the bread of life. We believe in Jesus. And he invites us to never hunger or thirst because he fulfills the longings of the human soul.