When Jesus claimed to be the bread of life, it shocked His listeners. Many disciples left Him after He made this claim. In order to better understand the weight of what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the bread of life,” let’s look a little deeper at the events recorded in John 6.
The Gospel of John records seven “I am” statements of Jesus. Each of these statements showed how He was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. “I am the bread of life” is the first of these Messianic claims.
Prior to making this claim, Jesus had performed several miracles, and people began to follow Him in large numbers. Around the time of the Passover festival Jesus was teaching a large crowd. As evening approached, His disciples suggested sending the people away to find food. Instead, Jesus turned five loaves of bread and two fish into a meal for over five-thousand people.
The next morning, the crowd tried their best to find Jesus again. When they finally did, He explained to them that they did not come to look for Him because they saw and understood the sign He performed, but instead, because they were looking for free food. He then began to explain to them how what they really needed was not another meal, but instead, food that would bring them eternal life. The people thought Jesus was offering them physical food that would never perish.
They asked Jesus if He was going to give them bread to eat the way Moses had given the Israelites manna in the wilderness. Jesus explained that He is the bread of life, the provision they seek, and that by believing in Him they would have eternal life. Still confused, the crowd—that we now see is made up of Jews who opposed Him—wondered how Jesus could make such claims.
Jesus responded, saying: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:47-51).
As the Jews prepared for the Passover festival, Jesus used the imagery that was right in front of them to display His deity. As they prepared to remember how God had provided for their ancestors in the past, Jesus showed them their provision for the future: Him.
When the Israelites wandered in the desert, there was nothing for them to eat. Yet, in His great mercy, God provided manna. He didn’t give them an abundance of manna; He gave them only what they needed to get through each day. Jesus explained that He was their provision for life, the true and better manna.
This week, as we study what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness, we can look to Jesus. Jesus is the embodiment of righteousness; He alone was righteous before God. As we hunger for righteousness, we hunger for Him. He is the bread of life. By truly resting in His presence, believing that He alone is all we need, can we find rest. We can trust Him each day, believing that He alone is all we need.
When we hunger and thirst for righteousness we hunger and thirst for Jesus – the bread of life. By seeking Him in prayer we find sustenance. By reading His Word we find rest for our souls and peace for our minds. He is the provision we need each day, and He promises to meet our every need.
A friend of mine once said, “I don’t like to wait for God to provide manna every day. I like to have mine in the freezer.” I’m the same way. I like to know that I have plenty of grace left to make it through the day, the week, or the month. That doesn’t leave much room for my faith to grow, nor does it leave room for God to exceed my expectations.
He is the bread of life. When we feast on Him, we lack nothing. Let’s seek His righteousness together. When we turn to Him our hearts find peace and we find rest. When we believe that He is all we need, we can accept the provision He has given us: Himself. He is enough. He is all we need. The more we know Him, the more we will hunger and thirst for more of Him.
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