John 6:22-58 (NIV)
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
32 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.33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 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. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 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.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
This passage, found in John 6, occurred right after Jesus had fed 5,000 people out of a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish and everyone had their fill of food that Jesus provided them. This passage is the follow-up conversation Jesus has with these people who He had fed.
Four different times in this passage, from Joh 6, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bread of Life (vv 35, 41, 48, 51). In Jesus’ day, bread was considered the most important part of the meal.
In today’s culture, when we visit a restaurant, we generally focus on the entrée while the basket of bread is considered secondary. In Jesus’ day, meat was more like a side dish; bread represented the major part of the meal. Also in Jesus’ day, nearly everyone had access to bread. Poor people used barley to make bread while the wealthy used wheat, but almost everyone had the means to make or buy bread.
When Jesus said He was the Bread of Life, He was saying that He was the staple needed by everyone. He was the most important part of life. Jesus was saying that He was the food that never perishes and the bread that never grows stale. Just as food is vital to survival, Jesus is essential to salvation. The wonder of bread is not its nutritional value, but its universality. The wonder of Jesus is that He is the only true, universal provision for the spiritual needs of every person. Jesus is the Bread of Life, our ultimate satisfaction.
Ravi Zacharias once said, “With all our ingesting and consumption, our hungers are still many and our fulfillments are few.” We are a society that consumes like no other in history, yet at the same time, we seem to be less fulfilled than any other generation in society. Maybe we are focusing on the wrong kind of food.
Loaves and fishes can meet our body’s need for physical nourishment, but we have a spiritual hunger that can only be satisfied by growing in a right relationship with Jesus, who is the Bread of Life.
Today, we need to ask ourselves one very important question:
How does Jesus satisfy your spiritual hunger?
If you find this question difficult to answer, then maybe you should examine your life to see what role Jesus plays in your life. If Jesus plays a very small part in your everyday life, then you are going to be going through your days with a hunger that no trip to any fast food joint will be able to fill. Fill yourself with a relationship with Jesus and you will find that you are fuller than you have ever known.