The Bread of Life
There’s nothing quite like the smell of bread baking in an oven. Seriously. I don’t think I could work in a bakery, the smell would add twenty pounds to my waist line in no time.
Does the fragrance of Jesus usher us into the same delightful, drool-worthy enthusiasm? In John 6:35 Jesus tells His disciples that He is the bread of life.
I’d say it’s accurate to believe that, yes, deep in our beings we do long after Jesus just as passionately as we drool over bread baking in an oven. (See the post I previously wrote about Jesus being our Living Water for further insight into this thought.)
Jesus uses the Israelites’ history of God raining down manna from heaven to expound His teaching. This is important to note, because we know that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament rather than do away with it.
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33 NKJV)
Bread tastes delicious and satisfies our tummies for a time, but Jesus is the true bread. He satisfies more completely than any flour-based concoction ever will. The manna sustained the Israelites on a day-by-day basis, but Jesus sustains us eternally.
Where it gets a bit weird in the reading is further down in verses 53-57, when Jesus talks about us literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He says that His flesh is indeed food, and His blood is indeed drink.
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in Him.”
– John 6:56 NKJV
Literally, by verse 60 we are told that many disciples said this concept was “hard”, and later we are told they leave Him altogether.
At first glance, of course those words are a bit off-putting. Weird, to say the least. But what do they really mean? What is Jesus saying?
If He is the bread of life, He needs to be consumed. Just as we fuel our bodies with the food we eat, we nourish our souls with the fullness and life that is found in Jesus by partaking of His body and blood regularly.
That’s how He abides in us, and we in Him. That’s how we become satisfied.
Are we cannibals or vampires? Of course not.
Later Jesus talks to His Twelve, and says in verse 63,
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
So we partake of Jesus’s body and blood in a spiritual sense. We fuel our souls by remembering His sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of sin, “eating” his life-giving Words regularly, and applying His instructions for life.
Real nourishment is found nowhere else but in Jesus.
I find it interesting that it’s specifically John 6:66 where we are told that many of Jesus’s disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Coincidence or not (that ‘three digit number’) it’s apparent that many left. And why?
Here’s my take on it: They left because they could not believe Jesus is the source of life; their bread, their fullness. The world is full of flashy options to fill up on. Money, power, prestige, temptations for sexual, material, and even sugary/carb delights…The list goes on…
Ultimately, they chose man-made pursuits to satisfy rather than the living bread.
Alas, still today, there are many of us, even in the Church, that don’t truly believe Jesus can satisfy completely. We continue looking elsewhere to meet cravings and fill felt voids.
We cling to doctors’ assessments and find validation for our struggles on countless fronts rather than seeking after and trusting in the real nourishment we need to thrive. How sad!
To abide in Jesus (John 15:4) is to be nourished by Him as the Vine that brings forth vitality and real fruit. It’s a moment by moment choice, in the middle of our messy muck.
Do we believe He can satisfy?
Then lets take Him at His Word. Eat and drink of Him, and find the fullness we were meant to have, even this side of heaven.
“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father,
so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”
– John 6:57 NKJV
Here’s to Abundant Life, Friends—found only in Jesus, our Bread of Life.