Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
For three weeks, we have been asking who that baby in the manger is. We have traced the answers through the Old Testament into the New. Now we will look at the various descriptions that Jesus gave himself as recorded in the gospel of John.
At the beginning of John 6, we see Jesus miraculously feeding five thousand people with five small loaves and two small fish (incidentally, the only miracle recorded in all four gospels). The people are so impressed with this miraculous sign that some say Jesus was the prophet foretold by Moses (Deut. 18:15). Yes, he is; good so far. But then the Bible tells us the people wanted to make Jesus king by force (6:15), showing that they were thinking of and longing for a political Messiah, not the true spiritual one.
The next day the crowd follows Jesus to the other side of the lake and incredibly asks him for a miraculous sign to prove he is who he claims to be, referencing the provision of manna in the desert (Exodus 16). Deliberately not reminding them that he had done the same thing the day before, he tells them not to focus on the food that will not last but on the food that will last, the true spiritual bread of heaven. And then he makes the astonishing claim that he himself is that bread of heaven, that bread of life. He tells them that the one who believes in him will neither hunger nor thirst.
Jesus is not saying that those who believe in him will never experience physical hunger or thirst; he is saying that they will never want for complete spiritual satisfaction, perfect spiritual nourishment. Jesus says to the crowd—and to us today—that if we believe in him he will provide us with everything that we need for our spiritual life and health, including eternal life.
Dear brothers and sisters, with all the feasting that you will do next week, will you eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus (John 6:53-57)? Will you find in him all you will ever need? Will you worship him, the bread of life, the bread of heaven come down from the Father? Sing with the “Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more”. (William Williams)
Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
as thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
throughout the sacred page I seek thee, Lord,
my spirit pants for thee, O living Word.
Thou art the Bread of Life, O Lord, to me,
thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
give me to eat and live with thee above;
teach me to love thy truth, for thou art love.
(Mary A. Lathbury)