bread of life

Then Jesus went up into the hills and sat down…Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for Him. Turning to Philip, He asked,

Philip, where can we buy break to feed all these people?

There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?

Tell everyone to sit down, Jesus ordered.

And they all ate until they were full.

John 6:3,5,9,10,11

I am the bread of life.

No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again.

John 6:35

The Meaning of the Name:

The people who were drawn to Jesus on the hillsides of around the Sea of Galilee were not wealthy folk. They didn’t have a lot of extra stashed away in a bank account to help them through the lean times. For these men and women to take a day off of work in order to listen to Jesus meant almost certain deprivation. It cost them something.

And yet they came in droves— thousands filled the grassy slopes. Gathered in clusters of friends and family, they soaked in the words of this man whose audacious claims earned him enemy-of-state status.

I wonder sometimes what it would have been like to be in that crowd. To be jostled by neighbors trying to get closer, to sit in the relentless heat with sweat pouring down my back.

What must it have been like to feel the hunger and sense the thirst of those thousands? To hope like they must have, when all other hope was gone? Was the place crazy with excitement? Were they scared? What drew them there? And, I wonder,

Did they walk away with what they wanted?

The story tells us that the very next morning some of these same people came clamoring for more. With visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads (or maybe it was barley loaves), they gathered for a second helping. Just think of it, no more work, no more striving for every little scrap, here was a man who’d just hand it to them, no questions asked!

Only this time, instead of baskets of bread, they got an earful of honesty.

…you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food.

Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Son of Man, can give you…

I am the bread of life.

No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again.

Those who believe in Me will never thirst…

But you haven’t believed even though you have seen Me.

John 6

They knew exactly what He was saying— that if they wanted to have hold of this bread that filled the gnawing hunger of 5000 people in the wilderness, they were going to have to get off their passive pattucies and go after Him in risk-taking trust. He wasn’t going to prove Himself one more time in order to help them off their wavering picket fence.

If they wanted that bread— that magical, mystical, richly satisfying-to-their-toes kind of life they were hoping for, they were going to have to fully and irrevocably entrust every aspect of their lives to Him. And He wasn’t giving any guarantee that He would cooperate with their wishes.

Jesus wasn’t about to make it easy. And He still doesn’t.

Instead he says,

This is the way it is. You want bread?

You want what will keep you fully alive and strong?

Above those soul-crushing waves, out of your endless wilderness of worry?

It’s Me you want!

Not Ten Steps to the Happy Life, satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. There aren’t ten steps, there’s only one: Me.

To get at that bread you crave you’re going to have to let go of everything else

that makes you pretend you’re safe.

Your family, your inflexible this-is-the-way-we-do-things approach to life,

your pitiful attempts at control.

And some days you’re going to be faced with impossibilities

like feeding 5000 men out of your sack lunch.

Or loving someone who betrays you.

Or shutting up when everything in you screams for justice.

Or giving thanks for deafness when straining to hear leaves you limp with exhaustion— left out and alone.

When Jesus held that loaf of barley bread in His hands, He wasn’t offering peace-filled platitudes. He was issuing a challenge.

Will you trust Me?

Even when you’re hungry and the cupboards are bare

and all you have is all I am?

Because that’s when I’ll be the Bread of Life to you.

That’s when you will know that deep-down soul-saturating fullness that only I can give.

When you’re absolutely starving and you choose Me and only Me.

Not your friends, not your family, not another seminar or counselor or guarantee. Just Me.

I don’t know if you’ve been to that place of nothingness. I do think that everyone of us gets there at some point in our lives. Maybe some of us arrive a little more hallow eyed and gaunt-cheeked than others, but if you’ve been there you know exactly what I’m saying.

And I know this: once you’ve eaten deeply of who He is- the Bread of Life- you’ll never hunger for anything else again.

From my heart,