It is getting to be that time of year again…when soup tastes especially good. There is just something about soup and cooler weather. Whenever I have soup…there must always be “bread”. I don’t know what it is, but bread just goes well with soup. I don’t necessarily mind a slice of Wonder Bread, but, soup is so much better with one of Kim’s rolls. Under most circumstances, bread would be the secondary portion of the meal…but, not when it comes to Kim’s rolls (and many of you know what I am talking about). Soup becomes that which enhances the roll.
I think about this in relationship to John’s reference to Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6:26ff). As that Bread, Jesus takes second place to nothing. We don’t take Jesus as any secondary portion, but everything else in our lives should enhance or glorify Him. Bread becomes a symbol for Jesus and His ministry. By grace, our Lord feeds some people who are hungry, but, in truth, He gives them the Word of God. The problem is that they want the food, but they are not necessarily interested in the truth. For certain, some would stay through the storm in order to seek Him, but Jesus…knowing their hearts…is not particularly impressed. In the end, most of these people would abandon Him. Jesus points out that there are two kinds of food – one is for the body, which is necessary, but not the most important…and two, food for the inner man or spirit, and it is this that is most essential. Jesus quotes “Isaiah 55:2 – “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.” What these people need is not so much “food” -- they need life! Life is the greatest gift.
The crowd, being the persistent bunch that they are, again asks Jesus for a sign to indicate that He really is who He says He is. Paul also says that the Jews are always looking for signs (1 Corinthians 1:22). The rabbis taught that when the Messiah would come, He would duplicate the miracle of the manna (Exodus 16) that came down from heaven...from God. If Jesus is truly from God, then let Him prove it by causing manna to fall from heaven. They want to “see and believe.” I may be missing something here, didn’t Jesus just do this for them...albeit in a different way? He just fed 5000 of them with “bread from heaven.” They miss the truth, because they are preoccupied with other things.
Faith that is based on signs alone, and not on the truth of the Word of God, can lead a person astray. Now, Jesus clearly identifies what, or rather, Who the bread is. He is the true Living Bread that has come down from heaven. He comes…not only for Israel…but for the whole world – and not only to sustain life, but to give life. The crowd wants the bread, but only so they would not have to work at living the life! They want to “take it easy.” In His response, Jesus uses two key words – come and believe. Believing is not merely an intellectual pursuit, as in giving assent to doctrine…it means to come to Him and yield our lives to Him. Just as we take in food or drink, we also must “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” as Jesus says in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:6).
Verse 35 is the first of the seven great “I AM” statements recorded by John. When “Jesus uses the name “I AM,” He is definitively claiming to be God. Jesus concludes His message with hope – that those who would believe in Him and obey would see salvation. Our hope for life…spiritual and eternal…is in the Bread. Jesus says that, in the looking for “signs,” many people miss the “real deal.” Too many people get caught up in the trappings of religion…whether or not they have all of their i’s dotted and t’s crossed…and they miss the point. We can believe that we understand “all of the doctrine” and “still not know the doctrine-maker.” We must not major in eating that which does not sustain us, spiritually. The Bread of Life…His life and message…is the spiritual food that we need to sustain us. We need a relationship with the One who is able to save our souls…we cannot settle for any substitute. Blessings,