“I AM the Bread of Life” – The Claims of Christ

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Bread Of Life
Bread Of Life

‘Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”’

– John 6:35 –

Except for the resurrection, the feeding of the multitude near Bethsaida is the only miracle to appear in all four Gospels. While Christ performed this miracle to help the hungry crowd, He also multiplied loaves and fish for the benefit of His disciples. He was showing them the nature of their kingdom ministry. The disciples would soon meet multitudes of spiritually starving people and it would be their duty to feed them. After all, as Paul says: ‘We are God’s fellow workers’ (1 Cor. 3:9). Therefore Christ fed the multitude through His disciples as it was their work also. The ministry belongs to the Lord, but it’s carried out by human instruments.

The glory of this miracle is not that the people were filled but that twelve full baskets of bread were left over. The crowd ate until they were satisfied, so this overflow was deliberate. It was how Jesus planned it. It was customary that when people ate together, they left something to those who served: ‘The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself’ (Prov. 11:25). Surprisingly, this miracle stirred up trouble. The people were following Christ because of the signs He performed, and here on the mountainside they witnessed another miraculous sign. They weren’t interested in who Jesus was, but in what He could do for them. They wanted Him to expel Rome from Israel. They saw Him as king and conqueror. He’d already healed and fed them, so they were ready to lift Him to power on a wave of glory.

‘Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone’ (John 6:15). Jesus often said His kingdom was not of this world, but the people wanted to seize Him in a violent manner and force Him to be their king of endless abundance. Just as Moses gave military leadership to deliver Israel from Egyptian oppression, the people wanted Jesus to do the same thing against the Romans. But an earthly kingdom was never God’s plan. Jesus didn’t need to be made a king. He was born one! So He sent the disciples to the other side of the lake, dismissed the crowd, and found a place of refuge on a nearby mountain to spent time alone in prayer (Matt. 14:23).

Why did Jesus have the disciples leave? Mark 6:45 makes it clear they didn’t wish to. Maybe they’d begun to be influenced by the crowd’s desire to take Jesus by force. Either way, trouble was brewing and Jesus wanted the disciples away from it. But their trip across the lake was far from peaceful. ‘It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing’ (John 6:17-18). The Sea of Galilee lies deep in the Jordan Valley. Cold air rushes off the mountains, colliding with warm air rising off the lake. This creates sudden, violent storms. This left the disciples in peril as the sea quickly raged. They fought the storm through the long hours of night, exerting themselves and ‘straining at the oars’ (Mark 6:48). Jesus told them to go to the other side, but the storm prevented them from fulfilling their Lord’s orders yet again.

Has this ever happened to you? Has an unexpected circumstance prevented you from fulfilling God’s will? Probably more times than you’d care to admit. Don’t feel bad. We’re all in that boat. It shouldn’t surprise us. Godly goals always stir up the devil’s wrath, but kingdom value is measured by our resolve. The disciples ran into a storm on the exact path Jesus said to take. They were learning to see trials as steppingstones. Learning not to fall into fear due to temporary setbacks. They needed to see that where crisis is, there Christ is also.

Behind the scenes, Jesus was working. He was walking on the water, heading straight for them. Job says: ‘He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea’ (9:8). Moses divided the sea, but Jesus walked on it! Why didn’t He just walk along the shoreline to where the disciples were supposed to meet Him? Because Jesus wanted to be where they were! He never worked miracles for His own convenience. Everything He ever did benefited others. So He didn’t walk on the water to save Himself a journey. No, His friends needed Him so He took the direct route: ‘When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid’ (John 6:19). Mark adds: ‘But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought that it was a ghost, and cried out’ (6:49).

The disciples responded in fear. They weren’t seeking Jesus in the storm or expecting rescue despite just seeing Him miraculously feed the masses. How many times has God delivered you from a trial one day, only for a different crisis to cripple you the next? Mark says the disciples were shocked as ‘they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened’ (6:52). They hadn’t understood the miracle. How it revealed the power and deity of Jesus. If they’d only remembered what Jesus had done, their faith would’ve told them all would be well. As soon as Jesus got in the boat, the storm stopped, ‘then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying: “Truly You are the Son of God”’ (Matt. 14:33). This was the first time they acknowledged Jesus’ deity and worshiped Him. Now their faith was definitely growing!

The crowd came looking for Jesus the next day. They asked how He crossed the lake since He had not sailed with the other disciples. Jesus replied: “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). He ignored the question but challenged their motives for seeking Him. The crowd had received a free, lavish meal and now they wanted more. They were concerned with what they put in their stomach, while Jesus was concerned with what they put in their heart. So He exposed the emptiness of what they were after by saying you can’t solve a spiritual need with a physical solution. The need for eternal life transcends the need for physical food. There will soon be a major shift in the hearts of this crowd. The majority will walk away from Jesus, never to return.

Jesus says: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (John 6:27). Everything the crowd was working for would one day perish. They’d minimized eternal issues and failed to prioritize God. Jesus saw this, so the people sought to earn God’s favor, asking: “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (6:28). The natural man wants to work to receive from God. The rich young ruler asked: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). The Jews on Pentecost said: “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:32). And the Philippian jailer asked: “What must I do to be saved?” (16:30).

Likewise, the crowd still didn’t get it. They wanted bread to hold in their hands and eat with their mouths. They looked at the physical, not the spiritual, realm. They sought the benefits of Christianity, not the Christ of Christianity. Jesus answered and said: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). The one thing God demands is true faith. Belief in the Son of God is the one work that pleases God (Heb. 11:6). This startled the people. Instead of bowing to Christ, they demanded more evidence of His divinity (John 6:30). Imagine asking this the day after the miraculous feeding! They reminded Jesus how their ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, so Jesus reminded them that manna was a provision of God but the true bread from heaven was the One they were talking to! “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (6:33).

When they ask Jesus to give them this bread always, Christ lays it on the line: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (6:35). This is the turning point that triggers rejection. Jesus didn’t come to bring bread. He came to be the bread. He didn’t come to improve their lives. He came to be their life. Jesus is telling them that He is all they’ll ever need. To have Him is to have everything. There is no life without Him. Just as bread was their daily food, so they must you feed on Jesus daily. Therefore David writes: ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!’ (Ps. 34:8). The people were hungry, so Jesus told them to feast on grace and forgiveness. The bread of God who came down from heaven would fill them each and every day.

Jesus drew a line in the sand by telling the crowd to pledge a life of obedience to Him and Him alone. Their response was murmuring and mockery. ‘They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”’ (John 6:42). They wanted Jesus to match their kingly expectations, so Jesus pushed further. He decided to shake them to the core, saying: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed” (6:54-55). He shifted from eating bread to eating flesh and drinking blood.

This drew a sharp reaction from the crowd. They were so repulsed that they began quarreling among themselves. They thought He was speaking literally of His own flesh and blood, and so refused to weigh the deeper meaning. Jesus didn’t back down but went on saying: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 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 6:56-57). Jesus spoke figuratively, but the extreme metaphor caused uproars like: “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (6:60). They didn’t want the truth. They wanted a conquering king to meet their needs. They trusted in Moses and followed John the Baptist, yet they lacked the faith to believe in Jesus.

Jesus was a man like no other. He only told people what they needed to hear. And so, ‘from that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more’ (John 6:66). They had wanted to crown Jesus king, but the truth poisoned them against Him. Finally, Christ turned to the twelve, asking: “Do you also want to go away?” (6:67). Peter answered magnificently: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (6:68-69). Peter pledged their allegiance even though they were as puzzled as everyone else. He was convicted that Jesus was who He claimed to be due to His words and miracle power. Jesus Christ was the very bread of life!

Written by Randall Brewer

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