Don't settle for bread
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35 (NLT)
Hunger; are you familiar with the word? It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach—like an ache or pain that can only be solved one way. Hunger occurs when hormones alert your brain to remind you, “Hey! It’s time to eat!” We are wired to feel hungry and left unsatisfied, but hunger can become painful.
John 6 opens with Jesus performing a big miracle to feed a lot of people. Well, I shouldn’t call it “big”. It should come as no surprise Jesus was and is capable of amazing things, right? But to His disciples—and the 5,000 men, plus women and children—the miracle had mixed results. Let me explain.
Jesus was with His disciples when a massive crowd of people began to gather around Him to see what this Jesus guy was all about—if He was the “real deal.” Immediately Jesus asks the question, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (v. 5). Phillip did the math, and there was no way they could afford to feed the multitude. Andrew points out a boy with some bread and some fish, but surely that wouldn’t be enough, right?
Then Jesus spoke, “Have the people sit down." Verse 11 says He “then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” They kept distributing the food until everyone was fed, and once all was said and done, the disciples collected twelve baskets full of leftovers. Just another day for Jesus. However, the miracle was so successful that the people “intended to come and make Him king by force…” (v. 15). Jesus slipped away and went off by Himself to the mountain to pray.
In verses 16-24, we read about how the disciples sailed across the lake for Capernaum, and Jesus caught up with them by walking on the water. Jesus walked several kilometers across high waves and through strong winds! By then the disciples were feeling pretty confident that Jesus was who He said He was, but before long the crowds of people found Jesus and His disciples in Capernaum.
“Rabbi,” they say, “when did you get here?” (v. 25).
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (v. 26-27).
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
As you continue to read, you see that the people were not satisfied with that answer. They insisted on a sign—some miracle for themselves that would serve them there and then, like bread. “Give us bread,” they said, “Like God gave to Moses.” And Jesus replied, “They ate that bread and perished, but I am the Bread of Life.” Jesus spoke plainly to them in a language they should have understood, yet many of those who followed Him would follow Him no longer because they failed to understand the difference between seeking a miracle and seeking the God of miracles.
Our bodies get hungry when we go without food, but sometimes we miss the signs of spiritual hunger. We wind up feeding on the wrong things. We may focus on what we want God to do in our lives without simply focusing on Him. Jesus told the multitude, “I am the Bread of Life!” They insisted on bread. I mean that literally—physical, edible bread! Jesus wants to give us so much more than that.
First, we need to realize that the burning hunger in our hearts will never be satisfied by miracles or blessings. There will always be another big bill that needs to be paid, or illness that needs to be cured, or impossible situation that needs to be resolved. God cares about our situations, but Jesus reminds us that the solution is not in some quick temporary miracle, but in him, and him alone.
John writes, starting in verse 53:
“Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Jesus did not mean his literal flesh and blood, but rather the idea that everything we need, always and forever, can be found in him. He alone satisfies our true, eternal hunger. Nothing else can satisfy but him.
Father, I confess that you are the God of miracles! But no miracle compares to what your Son, Jesus, accomplished on the cross, and then raising from death to life. Because of Him, we have life forever. So, I commit to seeking you above all else. I surrender all to you, for you alone satisfy. Show me more of you. Teach me to seek your face. Amen.