I am the bread of life. – John 6:35
The account of Jesus miraculously feeding five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. John’s account alone gives us a look into the multitude’s response after they had been fed. The 6th chapter of John tells us that Jesus left the multitude after the miracle and crossed the Sea of Galilee. Awaking the next morning to find Jesus no longer with them, the multitude searched and found Him in Capernaum. Upon finding Jesus the multitude questions Him.
As this conversation unfolds between the multitude and Jesus it becomes apparent that the multitude followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee for the wrong reasons. Jesus tells them in John 6:26 “…you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” They were not searching for the Messiah. They were searching for food.
Even after Jesus exposed their intent, they pressed Him further. The multitude wanted Jesus to perform another miracle to prove He was sent from God. They even gave Him an example of a previous miracle for Him to imitate: God sending bread down from heaven (manna) to feed the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness (Exodus 16). But Jesus was not there to simply feed the multitude, at least not in a physical sense. He was there to feed them spiritually. In verses 32 & 33 of John 6 Jesus says, “… but 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.” And then following in verse 35,
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and He who believes in me shall never thirst.”
Jesus was trying to change their mindset. The bread they needed to search for and partake of was standing in front of them: Jesus Christ, the bread of life.
Jesus goes on to explain how the bread of life is superior to the bread they were seeking. The bread of life would not perish as the manna did but is everlasting. Any who eat of this bread shall never be hungry again whereas the manna would never completely satisfy. This bread gives eternal life. The multitude stood before this bread. All they needed to do was partake of it.
Jesus stands before us and though we may have followed Him across the Sea of Galilee have we partaken of the bread of life?
The children of Israel were given specific instructions on how they were to gather the manna God provided. Looking back to Exodus 16 God provided the bread from heaven (manna) each day with the exception of the Sabbath, but the children of Israel were responsible for gathering the manna. Each day they were to gather a certain quota: one omar for each person. They were not to leave the bread overnight, but consume all they had taken. If they failed to do so the bread would be filled with worms by the next morning. On the sixth day of the week they were to gather enough for two days because God would not provide new bread on the Sabbath.
The bread of life, Jesus Christ, is not different. God has outlined in His word how we are to partake of this bread. John 6 provides an example of people who approached Jesus but did not do it in the manner which God desired. They were focused on the temporal benefits that following Jesus would provide rather than the spiritual. When we come to Jesus we need to focus on the spiritual.
It is easy to get caught up in temporal things. It is easy to become distracted by an eloquent speaker. It is easy to become focused on the “social networking” a church body provides. When we live in a world where we are constantly entertained it is easy to go to church expecting the same. But these should not be our focus and they should not be the reasons we follow Jesus. If they are, we are simply following Him across the Sea of Galilee in the hope He will give us more bread. These things are temporal, they will always disappoint us, and they will always leave us wanting more if they are what we seek.
Jesus Christ is the bread of life. It is only through Him that we obtain the spiritual food that will never leave us wanting. It is only through Him that we obtain eternal life. We must look past the temporal things of this world and “labor…for the food which endures to everlasting life.” (John 6.27)