Partaking the Bread of Life

In the gospel of John, Jesus makes several “I am” statements, and, in John 6:1-13, we read of Jesus miraculously feeding several thousand individuals five barley loves and two fish. The people respond to this miracle by concluding that Jesus is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy of 18:18, and they want to make him a political ruler. Jesus withdraws, and verse 22 records the crowds still looking for Him, even following Him to Capernaum.

When they find Jesus, He tells them that He rebukes them and makes one of His famous “I am” statements. He calls Himself the bread of life in verse 35 – redirecting their thoughts from focusing on the physical to focusing on the spiritual. He tells them that they must believe in verses 35, 40, and 47. They have to be able to receive Him, reflecting John 1:12. Additionally, He calls on them to obey Him. Unfortunately, they are more interested in remaining uninvolved and having another meal than changing their lives.

Responding to the Challenge

As Jesus tells them these things in John 6, they ask Him what sign He will give them in verse 29. This after the miraculous events of the day before. Likewise, in Matthew 12, right after curing a man’s withered hand, after casting a demon from a man, the scribes and Pharisees ask for a sign. Matthew 16 records another miraculous feeding, but the spiritual leaders still ask for a sign from Heaven.

When He demands them to examine themselves, they try to redirect His attention. They ask if He can do what Moses did in John 6:31, and, Jesus responds that it was not Moses who fed their forefathers but God. The Jewish crowd argues among themselves over the merits of Jesus’ words, and the culmination is in John 6:60 when many of the disciples leave Jesus because His teachings are too hard. He asks too much.

Contrast these attitudes with the Samaritan woman of John 4. She asks, in verse 12, if Jesus is greater than Jacob who gave her people this well. Instead of offering her bread of life, Jesus tells her of a fountain of life. She asks more of this water. As Jesus continues to talk to her, the woman believes Him, and she acts on that belief. She tells others of Christ, and her actions lead to many others believing.

Our Interest in Christ

Jesus offered the Jews bread of life, and they reject Him. He offers the Samaritan woman water of life, and she believes, acting on that belief. Who am I in these stories? Am I so wrapped up in this world and so content in my ways that I remain uncommitted and uninvolved? On the other hand, am I like the Samaritan woman who leaves her bucket behind to tell others of Christ? She understood that spiritual needs are greater than physical, and I should have that same commitment. When we seek God, when we worship Him, when we talk about Him, what is our purpose?

Jesus provides spiritual nourishment and spiritual healing. He does not restore our bodies, but He does restore our souls. Like the woman at the well, we should be putting our faith into action. We should be putting away the distractions of this world. Our priorities should no longer be on the physical and the temporary, and we need to replace those priorities with the spiritual and the eternal.

What will others see in you and me? What will they see as our greatest need? We have the bread of life and the water of life available to us. These should become the focus of our lives, and we should be sharing the source of those blessings with others.

lesson by Tim Smelser