The Bread Of Life
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
A great deal is said, in John 6, about bread – the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14), the reminder of this miracle – “boats from Tiberias came near to the place where they ate the bread after Jesus gave thanks” (John 6:23), Jesus’ message on the Bre...ad of Life (John 6:26-40), the continuation of this theme (John 6:48-51, 58).
A lot is said about bread, yet the important thing is not bread itself. bread is simply a symbol, pointing beyond itself to Jesus. When we think of bread, we think also of the Lord’s Supper. When we think of the Lord’s Supper, we think not only of the bread and the wine. Our thoughts turn to the Saviour, of whom the bread and the wine speak.
In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus stands before us as the One who calls for our decision. There is no automatic guarantee that all who hear the preaching of God’s Word do, in fact, receive the blessing of which God’s Word speaks. There is no automatic guarantee that all who receive the blessing to which these symbols point. Jesus stands before us, saying to us, “What is your response to Me?” Some hear God’s Word with courtesy, but they do not come to Christ. Some partake of the sacrament with dignity, but they do not come to Christ. Jesus says, “Let’s get beyond outward appearances. How is your heart towards Me?”
Following the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, we see an interesting response to Jesus (John 6:14-15). The people make what appears to be a positive response to Jesus (John 6:14). It is, nevertheless, based on a misunderstanding of who Jesus really is and what Jesus has come to do (John 6:15).
There are many people who respond to Jesus in precisely this way. they feel good about Jesus. They come along to Church. They sit under the ministry of God’s Word. They come to the Lord’s Table. They eat the bread. They drink the wine. Somehow, they miss the point of it all. They never really get beyond the symbols. They come to the Lord’s House. They hear the Lord’s Word. They receive the Lord’s Supper. The symbols have become more important than the Saviour. When we come to the Lord’s House, hearing His Word and celebrating the Lord’s Supper, let us make sure that we come to the Saviour – receiving Him as well as the symbols which point to Him.
Later on, after Jesus’ message on the Bread of Life, we see another reaction to Jesus (John 6:41-42). Here, we have the Jews murmuring at Jesus, saying that He is a mere man, who has no right to say, “I have come down from heaven.” we cannot assume that all who hear the Good News of Christ will come, in faith, to Him. There will always be those who, like the Jews, refuse to come to Christ and receive eternal life. When we read of this reaction among the religious people of Jesus’ day, we cannot expect that things will be any different in our day. There was religious unbelief in Jesus’ time, There is religious unbelief in our time. We must not hide behind our religion. We must be honest before God; “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
We dare not remain content with the outward ceremonies of the Church. We must look beyond the ritual. We must look on to the Reality – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In His message on the Bread of Life, Jesus says, “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:27).
What is “the food which endures to eternal life”? Jesus makes it perfectly clear that He is speaking about Himself: “For the Bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Following this statement, there comes a request: “Lord, give us this bread always” (John 6:34). Jesus’ reply is emphatic: “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
If, when we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are content with the outward observance without coming in faith to the Saviour, we receive nothing other than the food which perishes. If, on the other hand, we come, in faith, to Christ, we enjoy the promised blessing: “”he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
When we gather at the Lord’s Table, we remember, with thanksgiving, the dying love of our Saviour. through faith, we look beyond the symbols of bread and wine. we draw near to the Saviour whom they signify. we hear Jesus saying, “the Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51). We say to Jesus, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on the Cross for my sins.” We hear Jesus saying, “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in Him” (John 6:55-56). We know, in our hearts, that this is much more than the outward ceremony. This is the inward reality of Christ, living in our hearts. We look to Him in faith. He comes to live in our hearts.
As we approach the Lord’s Supper, we may find that the story of the feeding of the five thousand has some important lessons for us. In John 6:12, Jesus tells His disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” There are two lessons here.
- First, Jesus was concerned that nothing should be lost. In John 6:39, we read, “and this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given Me, but raise it up at the last day.” Those who have come, in faith, to Jesus will never be lost (John 6:37). It is only those who have refused to come to Christ who will be lost. They will be lost because they have refused to be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For those who have come to the Lord Jesus, there is here a precious and treasured lesson concerning the assurance of salvation.
- Second, we notice that the fragments were to be gathered up. This gathering up of the fragments points us forward to our heavenly and glorious, eternal destiny as the redeemed people of God. John 11:52 tells us that Jesus died not for the Jewish nation only. He died “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
As we consider our sure and certain hope of eternal life, received through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we might well end with a verse we could so easily overlook. It is John 6:23: “boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks.” Notice how the place is described – “the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks.” The Lord gave thanks for the bread. We also must give thanks – not only for bread but for Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. Thanksgiving – this must be the keynote of our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Thanksgiving – this must be the keynote of our whole life: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18); “always and for everything giving thanks in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20); “And whatever you do, in word or dead, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).