Christ The Bread of Life
James R. Davis
Jesus' discourse concerning the bread of life
is a sequel to the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. After this miracle
many made a vigilant search for Jesus. When they found Jesus, he rebuked
them for their motive in seeking him saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto
you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat
of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26) Overlooking spiritual blessings,
they sought the loaves and fishes. One can only wonder at how many seek
Christ for material gain.
Jesus has something far more important
for the world than mere physical blessings. Jesus told the multitude not
to apply all their energies to obtaining food that perishes. (John 6:26,27.)
He did not tell them that men are not to honestly labor for daily bread,
but that they are not to make this their first and supreme concern. Jesus
taught that one's primary concern should be satisfying the spiritual appetite.
(Matthew 6:25-33.) Man is to labor for that "meat which endureth unto everlasting
life." (John 6:27.)
Materialism fails to satisfy men;
it can satisfy only for the moment. The material food that Jesus had miraculously
provided for the hungry multitude satisfied them for the moment. But the
following morning those same people were again surrounding Him seeking
further material manifestations.
For too many people in our modern
society, life consists merely of accumulating things. We have stressed
the physical to the exclusion of the spiritual and eternal. We emphasize
food, clothing, a good time, to the exclusion of all else. Isaiah warned,
"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And you labour
for that which satisfieth not?" (Isaiah 55:2.)
What Shall We Do?
The Jews placed great emphasis upon
works as the means of salvation and Jesus' mention of works led them to
ask, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" (John 6:28.)
They wanted to know what they could do to win God's favor. Jesus reply
was simple, "believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)
It was quite clear to these unbelieving
Jews that Jesus professed to be the long awaited Messiah, but they wanted
a sign that would signal that Jesus was the one through whom all blessings
flow. They were willing to concede that he was some great teacher (Matthew
16:14.), but to believe that He was sent from God was too much. The demand
for a sign was characteristic of the Pharisees. (Matthew 16:1; 12:38.)
They wanted some spectacular wonder of their own choosing. If Jesus could
feed them with manna from heaven as Moses had fed their fathers for forty
years then they would believe. They thought that Jesus' feeding the 5,000
with five loaves and two small fish was inferior to what Moses had done.
The crowd had seen Jesus' works and
yet they believed not. (John 6:36.) Jesus had turned the water to wine
in Cana of Galilee. (John 2:1-11.) They saw the miracles that he did while
at the Passover. (John 2:23.) He had healed the Nobleman's son (John 4:46,54);
the invalid of thirty-eight years had been made whole. (John 5:1-9.) Jesus
fed the 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish. (John 6:1-13.) Yet none
of these miracles had influenced them to believe. One can only wonder at
what it would take to persuade such people.
The Jews sought Jesus for their own
materialistic and selfish gain. They were looking for an earthly king and
food for the body. (John 6:15,26.) They were uninterested only in the results
of the "signs" rather than what the signs were saying about Jesus' mission
and his power. Many, who came to Jesus for food and healing, failed to
grasp the true significance of the miracles. They were not interested in
Jesus as Saviour; they were concerned largely with their materialistic
Their problem was not a lack of convincing
evidence; it was stubbornness and perversity of heart. If Jesus had offered
them a loaf made from wheat or barley, they would have accepted him. Yet
he had offered them something far better. He had offered them the bread
of life and they had rejected it. They had refused to believe even though
God had given his seal of approval (John 6:270 by direct testimony (Matthew
3:17), and by signs and wonders. (John 5:36,37.)
Are we any different today? Man disbelieves
because he is determined to do so not because of the lack of evidence.
Many already have their minds made up and regardless of the evidence they
will not consider faith in God or Christ. Many have closed their minds
to the possibility of the Christian faith.
Jews listened, but they did not learn.
There are different kinds of listening. There is a listening of criticism;
there is the listening of resentment. There is the listening of superiority;
there is the listening of indifference. There is the listening of the man
who only listens because, for the moment, he cannot get the chance to speak.
The only listening that is worthwhile is the listening which listens and
learns. There is no other way to listen to God.
The Jews resisted Jesus because Jesus
did not conform to their prejudices and misconceptions of him. (Matthew
13:15.) They could only see him as the son of Joseph. (John 6:42.) Their
misconceptions warped their perception of Jesus. If Jesus had shown a willingness
to be crowned king and to feed and arm them for war against Rome, many
would have readily accepted him.
We always want God to conform himself
to man's misconception of Him rather than conforming our thinking to the
teaching of God. We say, "If God is a benevolent God why is hunger, pain,
and suffering prevalent?" In essence, we are saying, "If God will conform
himself to what I believe He ought to be then I will believe."
The same reasoning is used concerning
the plan of salvation. Man says, "I don't believe God would send a man
to hell for not being baptized." Man is expecting God to conform his thinking
to man's thinking. Some believe, deep down in their hearts, that when all
is said and done God will accept man as he is, without any change on man's
part. He will just scoop us up in his loving arms and save us.
We must conform ourselves into the
image of God's dear Son. He must bring himself to believe in God as he
is revealed in the Son. Jesus said, "he that hath seen me hath seen the
Father." (John 14:9.) Again Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and
the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.)
Am the Bread of Life
When we reject the supernatural
world for the natural world we bring ourselves down to the animal level.
Animals can eat, drink, sleep and be contented; but man cannot! While man
cannot live without bread, he cannot live by bread alone. Life is more
than a mere physical existence. Jesus said, "Is not the life more than
meat and body raiment?" (Matthew 6:25.) Man has spiritual longings, which
cannot be satisfied by purely physical gratification. Man may scorn the
world beyond, but it is a fact that one can neither ignore nor escape.
There is a heaven and a hell. Both like the spirit of man are eternal.
The man who rejects the supernatural will live in eternity unprepared for
Jesus offers to man something
far superior to the manna that God fed to the Jews in the wilderness. Moses
fed the children of Israel with manna, but they ate and drank only to thirst
again --they ate of that bread and died. Jesus promises something that
can satisfy the eternal spirit of man. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that
he could provide living water forever (John 4:14); and now we see Him telling
the crowd of Capernaum that He himself is the true bread of eternal life.
The crowd didn't catch the nature
of Jesus teaching and asked, " . . . evermore give us this bread" still
thinking it to be a physical blessing. They were like the prodigal who
fed upon the husk --- they wanted food, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and a
good time. Only the bread of God could satisfy them.
Drawing Power of God
The hunger for God is universal,
but the tragedy of man is that so often we misunderstand our own longings.
We do not know that for which we hunger. We pursue many vain goals. Yet,
when they are attained, the heart is still unsatisfied. The restlessness
and fitful feverishness of our world grows out of the fact that it is a
hungry world and is failing to find that for which it hungers. Man has
developed an insatiable appetite for the second best, or maybe even the
worst and he has allowed his longing for God to lie dormant and for all
practical purposes, utterly dead.
God and man are much like two opposite
poles of a magnet, which attract each other. Our thoughts are naturally
drawn to God. God has placed in every one of us an insatiable hunger for
the knowledge of Him. When the psalmist said, "As the hart panteth after
the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God, " he was speaking
a universal language.
God seeks man through the attraction
of the cross. Jesus said, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he
that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son
of man be lifted up: That whosover believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the
world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:13-17.)
We fail to recognize the drawing
power of the cross. We tend to think of the cross as old fashion and repulsive.
The Pharisee failed to understand his need of the cross for he prayed,
"God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust,
adulterers or even the publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes
of all that I possess." He failed to understand that he was a sinner in
need of the blood shed upon Calvary's cross. He had no need of mercy!
The publican understood his need
of mercy -- he stood afar off -- he realized that his sins separated him
from God. (Isaiah 59:1,2.) He recognized his need for salvation, his need
for forgiveness, and that his sins stood between him and God. He said,
"God be merciful to me a sinner" . . . he made no effort to appear worthy.
We say, "I don't see how a good God
could condemn anybody." The question is "How can God save us? The only
way is for Christ to suffer . . . there is no other way. Jesus became the
substitute for our sins. He satisfied God's justice.
The drawing power of God is what
held Christ to the cross. John said that Christ had nail prints in his
hands (John 20:25), but the nails were not what held Jesus to the cross.
When the mob reviled him and wagged their heads saying, "If thou be the
Son of God come down off the cross" (Matthew 27:39,40), Jesus could have
come down from the cross. The one who created the world (John 1:1-3), had
at his command twelve legions of angels, who quieted the storm, who raised
the dead, could have removed the nails and come down off the cross. But
his love for each of us held him there.
The lovingkindness of God has prompted
Him to draw all men to himself through the word of reconciliation that
communicates the message of the cross. The words of the prophets were designed
to reveal man's need of the cross and to unfold the mystery of redemption
through Jesus Christ thereby drawing all men to God. (John 6:44,45.)
The promise of everlasting life draws
men to God. History tells us that civilizations of every age have had an
instinctive awareness of an eternal heaven. A study of the tombs of ancient
Egypt tells us of the Egyptian's hopes and dreams for the future. Their
awareness of such a place as heaven is obvious. The American Indian believed
that after death one went to the happy hunting ground. At one point in
Danish history when a landowner would die his servants would take their
own lives so that they might continue to serve their master in the land
Entomologist's study of the Monarch
butterflies reveal that they sweep down from the Canadian Rockies to Pacific
Grove, California where they cluster in pine trees for the winter. In March
they fly off again singly and in small groups. They find milkweed for their
young; after laying its eggs the butterfly's work is complete. Scientists
believe that each year these beautiful creatures come to the very same
trees their ancestors came to. They are completely directed by their instincts.
In much the same way, God has planted within the soul of man an instinctive
awareness of heaven. Just as the butterfly instinctively finds the right
pine trees, so man instinctively directs his thoughts toward heaven.
In much the same there is the drawing
power of God planted in each of us. It is an inducing power, but it is
not an irresistible power. The words of the prophets were designed to draw
the Jews to God. Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father
which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It
is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every
man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto
me." (John 6:44-45 KJV.) Yet the Jews resisted God's teaching. They knew
the scriptures, but they would not come to Jesus that they might have life.
Jesus said you, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal
life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me,
that ye might have life. (John 5:39-40 KJV.)
Must Believe In God
"Then Jesus said unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and
drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last
day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that
eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As
the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth
me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven:
not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this
bread shall live forever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he
taught in Capernaum." (John 6:53-59.)
There has been much debate
over whether or not Jesus was talking about the Lord's Supper; but one
must understand that here Jesus is simply, but emphatically, stating that
men must accept Him as the source and sustainer of one's spiritual life.
Jesus told the unbelieving Jews, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall
die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your
sins." (John 8:24.) Jesus gives life . . . He is the essence and sustenance
Believing in Jesus Christ is
more than a shallow intellectual faith that merely gives mental ascent
to the fact that Jesus was some great figure in history. The devils believe
and tremble. If you are in doubt about what it means to believe in Jesus
Christ ask yourself three questions:
it mean to believe in Jesus?
Can I believe in Him without knowing what
After knowing what He teaches, can I call
myself believing in Him while not doing what He teaches?
It is apparent that believing in
Jesus involves learning and imbibing the teaching of Christ . . . dethroning
self and enthroning Christ. We must learn and imbibe the life giving word
of Christ. One must allow the word of Christ to dwell in his heart to the
extent that Jesus takes control of one's body and reigns as Lord in every
phase of one's life. Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless
I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave
himself for me. (Galatians 2:20.)
Contrary to popular opinion
believing is work. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work
of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29 KJV.)
Have you ever tried to displace
hate in your heart with love, to return good for evil or to practice the
golden rule? Have you ever tried loving your enemies or praying for those
who despitefully use and persecuteyou? Have you ever wrestled with the
difficulty of replacing filthy talking or cursing with words that minister
grace to the hearers? Have you tried "Casting down every imagination, and
every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and
bringing into captivity every thought to be obedient to Christ"? (2 Corinthians
Who said believing isn't work?
The desires of man's soul are
a badge of his superiority. These desires are a mark of our greatness.
They are the secret to our spiritual progress. Man cannot be content with
a mere physical existence. Man is hungry to know Him who is the Creator
of it all. He is hungry for the knowledge of him"
"Whose dwelling is the light
of setting suns,
And the Round Ocean, and living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind