Parables, metaphors, Jesus speaks and teaches often using imagery and illustrations to his listeners. I have chosen to dedicate the next 7 blogs to the metaphors Jesus chose to describe Himself.
” I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” – John 6:35,36
Before we dive in to explore this statement let’s first look at the context. A day earlier Jesus had fed five thousand people with 5 barely loaves and 2 fish. As the disciples left for Capernaum it was noted that Jesus was not on board their ship. It got dark, the sea got rough, 4 miles into their boat ride they see Jesus walking on water. Jesus lets them know it’s Him and climbs into the boat. Another miracle is mentioned but often over looked.
Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land they were going. – John 6:21
According to Google, it is approximately 6.33 miles (5.5 nautical miles) from the Sea of Tiberius (where Jesus fed the 5,000) to Capernaum. This means that the disciples were at minimum a mile and a half off the shore, but the second Jesus gets in the boat, they had arrived.
Ok, back to the doughy portion of this text. After a quick conversation from people that came later that morning from Tiberius to Capernaum, the people questioned Jesus:
“What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” – John 6:31
Wait a second, they just witnessed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with next to nothing, and they still want a sign? After, Jesus politely clarified that God gave their ancestors the bread not Moses, he goes on to say: “My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (vs 32,33)
Let’s fast forward a few verses and get to the ‘gluten heavy’ portion of the text.
“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, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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
Could you imagine not having the Bible? These people didn’t so they struggled to see the big picture. I’d like to think that I would understand and just trust in Jesus, that I would be open minded and just believe once He spoke. But, if I’m honest, I would probably be like those in attendance, confused and bewildered at Jesus ‘riddles’. Take a moment now, reflect on this and be honest with yourself, would you have believed instantaneously?
If you answered ‘Yes’, I would like you to think of a time you faced a ‘storm’ in your life. I would imagine you prayed about it. I’m sure you probably prayed quite a bit during that time. But after you prayed, did you instantly let go of your anxiety or your worry? If you are like me, you probably didn’t let the worry go until you were out of that storm. Just like Jesus leaving Tiberius late and helping the disciples skip the mile line of waves to arrive at their destination early, Jesus has already seen and overcome the storms in your life.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
If you have a hard time leaving your worries with Jesus and trusting Him to go ahead of you and sort things out, it would be safe to assume, you would find it hard to trust Jesus on His ‘bread of life’ statement.
What I find so poetic about verses 53 is that Jesus is already foreshadowing His last meal. He has already given the disciples a ‘spoiler alert’ but they just don’t understand how they are going to “eat His flesh” and “drink His blood”.
“Truly, truly I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” – John 6:53
Later the disciples learn that eating the broken bread represents Jesus body broken for our sins. This fulfills the “eat His flesh” portion. “Drink His blood” is fulfilled through the symbolic drinking of wine, representing His blood poured out for us on the cross which frees us from sin.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. Do you reach for Him daily? Or ask Him to go before you and trust fully in Him to help you through tough times knowing He will safely bring you to shore? Or do you spend your days gluten free from the only one who has already set you free? Wherever you are, what ever you are doing, take a moment and pray the following verse. Then look for ways you can increase your intake on the bread of life. Trusting in Him more, and invite Him into more of your life.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. – Psalm 9:9-10, 13-14
By: Donald Porter