Jesus is the Bread of Life
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 6:4-7 (Holman) Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.”
Feeding the 5000 is one of Christ’s most famous miracles. Other than the resurrection of Jesus, it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.
Luke says Jesus fed the 5000 near Bethsaida, Philip’s home. Since Philip knew the area well, it was natural for Jesus to direct His question toward him.
Philip had opportunity to express strong faith, but showed impatience with Jesus’ apparently unreasonable question. Robert Schuller said never say no if the impossible is suggested; lay it before God. He’ll let us know what to do or not do.
John 6:8-9 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,
“There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
Andrew responded better than Philip did. Avoiding utter despair, he brought to Jesus a boy with five loaves and two fish. Andrew could also see the impossible, but at least tried to help. He doubted, but was not totally crippled by hopelessness.
Andrew had no clue how important his deed was. He unwittingly provided material for a miracle. We never know what can happen to those we bring to Jesus.
John 6:10-11 Then Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, so they sat down. The men numbered about 5,000. Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated, so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.
Jesus made the difference. He took loaves and fish worth little, and upset all reasonable calculations. We often see resources themselves without pondering any touch of Divine power on them. To us, five loaves are too often merely five loaves.
We tend to do this when measuring a person. We consider charisma, looks, natural abilities, education, etc., yet leave out the one factor that can magnify all our gifts: the power of a life yielded to Christ. Always put Jesus in our calculation.
Before doing the miracle, Jesus had to humble the disciples. The question of verse five—“Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?”—was asked to highlight the impossibility of the task, and to show the disciples’ weak faith in confronting the impossible. Christ had to empty them before He could fill them.
Jesus begins to make our poor resources adequate by first driving home into our heart a consciousness of their insufficiency. We begin by seeing what we have is nothing compared to the immensity of the task Christ requires from us.
We must be emptied of self before we can be filled with God. The vacuum principle is valid in the spiritual as well as the physical realm. Our emptiness draws Christ’s fullness. God’s power flows when we know our strength is total weakness.
When we know we have little, it can become much in Jesus’ hands. The boy gave what he had to Jesus. If we give Him our life, He will use it to bless many.
God requires from us not extraordinary ability, but willingness to yield all to Him. We find life by losing it. Giving, not getting, is the way to thrive. Nothing of everlasting value is lost by generosity. Now let’s find the lesson in the miracle.
John 6:32a (Holman) Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, . . .”
To this crowd, Moses and manna pictured the highpoints of God’s dealings with His people. Jesus pointed them to truths higher than Moses and manna.
Jesus said manna was not a gift from Moses. They were not obliged to him for it. He was only God’s instrument. Jesus told them to look past Moses to God.
We often do not give God the honor He deserves. Jesus taught this crowd God must have honor. Never forget, “Every generous act and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). To God be the glory, every day, everywhere, in everything.
John 6:32b-34 “. . .but My father gives you the real bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said, “Sir give us this bread always!”
Jesus knew the crowd needed to know manna was not the ultimate, best bread from heaven, but merely foreshadowed it. When Jesus mentioned bread that “gives life to the world,” this crowd perked up. They did not fully understand Him, but recognized value in it. They knew they needed more than what they had.
Their request bespoke earnest longing as well as happy expectation. We all at times sense this angst, feeling we have not found all we were intended to be. We at times feel a life in us too significant to be constrained in physical boundaries.
Do we right now feel this inner longing, sensing unfulfilled high aspiration? Earthly goals are not our highest element. We were meant for more, for God. Every moment of life was intended to be lived in joyful communion with Him.
The crowd’s request was well worded, but in vain, for they did not see the Giver of life in the bread they ate, nor the Bread of life in the Giver who fed them.
They rejected Jesus and His miracle’s message. They hungered, the Bread of life was readily available, but they distrusted the Lord’s explanation of the miracle.
John 6:35a “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them.
The crowd had asked for something physical from Christ, but He offered them Himself instead. The best gift God had ever given them was standing in their presence. Jesus’ miracles were wonderful, but He was even more wonderful.
We can enjoy nothing of Christ apart from Christ Himself. We can’t separate what Jesus gives from what Jesus is. We cannot embrace Christ’s teachings while doing whatever we want to with Christ. He claimed to be the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the door (10:7,9), the good shepherd (10:11,14), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the vine (15:5), and the way and the truth (14:6).
Jesus used humble symbols to describe Himself. Thank God for the simple clarity of the Gospel. Our message is for everyone, not scholars only. Jesus’ claims were so plain and understandable that if we misinterpret them, it is caused by our own refusal to believe. Unbelief can never be blamed on obscurity in His language.
It was condescending for Him to call Himself bread, the commonest article on a table, but this made the application obvious. “I am the bread of life” is not simply a beautiful phrase. Bread sustains life. Without bread, life cannot continue.
Jesus, the bread of life, initiates and sustains spiritual life. Apart from Jesus, people only exist. There is no real spiritual life until people have a personal relationship with Jesus, for without Him, there can be no connection with God.
People desperately need Jesus. He is a necessity, not a luxury. We may like to have money and stuff, but we must have bread. The human race cannot get rid of Christ because they cannot rid themselves of their deepest desires. People long to know God; and Jesus is the only One who can ultimately satisfy this longing.
John 6:35b “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.”
Jesus is the bread of life, but can help us only if He is appropriated. Bread uneaten cannot end our hunger. The bread of life satisfies only the one who “comes” and “believes.” We must come to Jesus as spiritual beggars, as suppliants needing alms, as children desiring their parent’s help.
Since Jesus is the bread of Life, the implication is, whoever comes to Him leaves an old life of beggarly famines totally unable to satisfy. Nothing in the old life of famine can fulfill us spiritually, nor can we find anything in the old life we can bring to earn God’s favor. We are saved without merit. We can only receive.
We do not deserve what He offers; we come empty handed. All we can bring is a gnawing hunger, which is a sign of health. It means we are finally realizing we need to seek help. Sick patients recover better when they regain a good appetite. Sinners do better when they begin to feel a distressing need for bread from heaven.
The miracle and message in our text urge us to seek our spiritual satisfaction in Jesus. He combines power to do, and words of truth. If we come to Him, and believe on Him, we will never hunger or thirst, our every spiritual need is met.