The Life giving bread
The Life-giving Bread (John 6:25-35, 53)
The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus recorded by all four Gospels. Without question it made the greatest impact on His hungering world. Most of the population never knew total satisfaction from hunger. Yet Jesus never fed them only to satisfy physical hunger. He intended the physical bread to point them to higher spiritual sustenance. His generation missed that significance. We should not make the same mistake. Jesus offers Himself to you as the only satisfaction for life's spiritual hunger.
Jesus Warns Us About Missing the Bread of Life
We may miss the bread of life because of curiosity without commitment (v. 25). After feeding the 5,000, Jesus had miraculously crossed the sea back to Capernaum (vv. 19-21). The crowd sensed this and wanted to know how and when He had gone so far so quickly. Jesus refused to respond. He never then or now reveals Himself to curiosity without commitment. Mere curiosity about Christ never satisfies spiritual hunger.
We may miss the bread of life because of superficiality without comprehension (v. 26). Jesus knows us and what is in us. He answers our needs, not our desires. He speaks to our inward heart, not our superficial questions. The crowd followed Him because they wanted full bellies, not full hearts. They had totally missed the "sign"—the higher spiritual significance of His ability to multiply physical food. He intended that to lead them to the higher, heavier, holier truth that He can satisfy the higher needs of spiritual hunger. "They saw only the bread in the sign, not the sign in the bread."
We may miss the bread of life because of materialism without spirituality. "Do not work for food that spoils" (v. 27). All food and physical possessions lose their sustaining power. Food itself is digested and dispersed. "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again" (4:13). Even the physical food of the miraculous feeding already left them hungry. Nothing you can put in yourself or on yourself will meet the deepest hunger about yourself. Rather we are to seek that bread which abides and gives life. "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst" (v. 14).
Jesus Instructs Us About Having the Bread of Life
Spiritual life does not come from human performance (v. 28). Human religion always asks the question, "What can we habitually practice to meet God's requirements?" The crowd questioning Jesus had in mind works (sacrifices, tithes, ceremonies, etc.) that would meet God's performance standard. Nothing you can perform will fill the higher hunger of your life.
Spiritual life does come from an abiding faith (v. 29). God requires not multiple "works" but a single, simple "work." The only "work" which satisfies the inward hunger is a continuous belief in the person and mission of Jesus. This is the one spiritual attitude from which satisfaction comes.
Spiritual life does not come from miracle mongering (vv. 30-33). The crowd implied that Jesus had not done enough to convince them. Moses supplied an entire generation with physical manna for forty years. Jesus refuses to give a dramatic miracle to those without commitment. If you do not believe Him, no additional miracle will change your mind. He had just performed a mighty miracle and they refused to believe. They would not believe another miracle any more than the first.
Jesus Explains About Appropriating the Bread of Life
Cutting through all misunderstanding, Jesus makes the bold statement, "I am the bread of life" (v. 35). Coming to Him totally satisfies spiritual hunger. How do you come to Him?
Coming to Jesus is a personal appropriation of His life and death. It is "to eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood" (v. 53). Jesus means by that an appropriation of Christ that takes Him into our innermost being. He means dwelling in Christ and Christ dwelling in you. Faith throws us onto Christ while this eating and drinking throws Christ into us.
This involves a sacrificial recognition. The separation of flesh and blood meant violent death. We appropriate the One who died for us. Out of that death comes the bread of life.