The Bread of Life
“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’” John 6: 31-35
I started reading and studying the Bible back in the ‘70’s. Although there had been some periods of time that I didn’t read as much, it’s been close to 40 years. It’s hard for me to comprehend that it’s been that long. The amazing thing is that there always seems to be something new and exciting there for me. Part of the reason is that we forget and need to be reminded of these truths, so they seem like they are new. The other part of it is that we can read over and over the same simple words and never notice a deeper aspect of them. It’s like God can shine a certain light onto them that gives them new meaning. Sometimes we see the words in the light of other truths that we are beginning to also understand and the combination brings about a new depth of meaning. Circumstances in our lives can also enhance the meaning of the scriptures, giving them a clarity never seen before.
Many truths in life can be taken too lightly, seeing them as an easy to understand, simple truth and not recognizing the depth of them. This is why we are encouraged to take some time to meditate on the Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to open them up to us. We need to allow the Father to teach us. In John 6, after Jesus told them that He was the bread of life, they murmured at him. Jesus said this in response:
“Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘and they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” John 6:43-45
We also must realize that the truths of the Scriptures pertain to spiritual things, and not physical. This is a stumbling block for many who don’t truly believe. Again, when His disciples murmured, Jesus said this:
“But Jesus, knowing that His disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” John 6: 61-64
The teachings in the 6th chapter of John are very deep. It was difficult for the people there with Jesus listening to receive and comprehend what He was saying. Although we can now see a larger picture of Jesus’ life and purpose, there is still much to be considered. What does it really mean that Jesus is the bread of life? I’d like to share some thoughts from my current perspective about this.
Hunger no more
The words that jump out at me are that we “shall not hunger” and “shall never thirst”. Physical bread fills us and satisfies our physical hunger. Jesus is our spiritual bread and will satisfy our spiritual hunger. What does this really mean?
Back in 1965, the Rolling Stones came out with a hit song called, “Satisfaction” or better known as “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction”. Some consider it to be the best rock song ever made. According to Wikipedia, the lyrics are about sexual frustration and commercialism. The chorus goes like this, “ I can’t get no satisfaction, ‘cause I try and I try and I try and I try. Can’t get no….” Besides the musical attraction of the song’s guitar riff and beat, I see another attraction: we all can identify with seeking, and not finding, satisfaction in our lives.
This is extremely important to understand and apply to your own thoughts and feelings: If we attempt to find satisfaction in this physical world, we will always be disappointed, because it is impossible. This is the lie: We think it is possible to find satisfaction and fulfillment in this life through riches, fame, sexual pleasure, drugs and alcohol, a wife or husband, a job, recreational activity, vacations, success, reputation, retirement, or whatever other physical thing or idea you can come up with, yet we can try and try, and we are never satisfied. We see others that we think are satisfied, but the truth is that they aren’t satisfied either with these physical things. King Solomon said it this way, thousands of years ago:
“Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” Prov. 27:20
Our flesh can never be satisfied. It always will want more. Once we gain something that we have set our eye upon, it quickly become insufficient, and then it’s on to the next thing that our eye sees and wants.
It’s this dissatisfaction that leads us into bondage. Our seeking for the thing that will satisfy ensnares us. Proverbs also warns us about the foolishness of seeking satisfaction from such things as “the adulterous woman” or “strong drink” or “temporary riches”. Proverbs also says this:
“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Prov. 27:7
When we are hungry or dissatisfied, we will see even the “bitter” things of life as “sweet”. This is the snare that entraps us and results in bondage such as addiction or depression. The flip side is that when we are satisfied, we are in need of nothing and even the so called “sweet” things of life will have no strong attraction to us.
Here lies the important truth: find your satisfaction and contentment in spiritual things and you will be completely satisfied. Recognize that our true contentment and satisfaction will be fulfilled when Jesus returns and restores His Kingdom. This is our hope that will bring to us real and lasting satisfaction as we set our focus on it. As Jesus said, you will “not hunger and never thirst”. There is a battle for us in this area. Our eyes are constantly bombarded with things that offer satisfaction and fulfillment, tempting us to place our focus on them. Our victory comes from dying to these physical things that this world has to offer.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust (strong desire) of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2: 15-17
I pray that the Holy Spirit will clearly teach us and show us what is of the world. We live in this world but we can’t be “of” the world. We need direction from Him about what desires will ensnare us.
The death and resurrection of Jesus is the key for us to understand how to be “in” this world but not “of” this world. He has secured the promise of eternal life by His death and resurrection (His body and blood that have secured the new covenant). We can now confidently place our hope in this promise and wait for His return, allowing this hope to be our satisfaction. We must crucify, or put to death, any other thoughts that attempt to replace this hope as our means of satisfaction and contentment. We are therefore admonished by the Scriptures to be content with whatever state we are in or with whatever things we have. Paul the apostle said that he knew how to be abased and how to abound. He knew how to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself in. This thinking is contrary to the worlds thinking. We must be alert and attentive to our thoughts and make sure that this worldly thinking doesn’t somehow make its way into our thinking. We can easily deceive ourselves.
One day Jesus will raise us from the dead to eternal life. This truth feeds our spirits and relieves the hunger that gnaws at our insides. Nothing from this world will ever satisfy this inner hunger.
In the Gospel of John chapter 6, Jesus further defines what His role as the bread of life that came down from heaven really means:
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6: 38-40
In summary, all mankind struggles with the need for satisfaction in this life. The physical world has nothing that can satisfy us, but we are deceived into thinking that we can be satisfied by these earthly things. The result of seeking for satisfaction in physical things is bondage. The solution to this problem has been offered by Jesus. If we set our hope in His promise of eternal life, and if we set our affections on the things above rather than the things of this earth, we can find contentment. We must keep our minds set on Him and on the hope of heaven, resisting the temptation to look to the things of this world. The ultimate satisfaction will come when Jesus returns, on the last day when he will raise us from the dead to eternal life.
Yes, we can find some pleasure in things on this earth, but they must never become the source, or main focus, of our satisfaction. Only the eternal Bread of Life that was sent from heaven, by God the Father, to earth for us, can bring us a real and lasting satisfaction. I pray that you will find and keep this satisfaction, and that you will never hunger nor thirst again.