Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give you.” (Jn 6:26, 27)
In our Gospel reading Jesus emphasized his exclusive claim and solution to world’s famine (Jn 6). The background to Jesus’ claim is the feeding of the 5000. At the end of this feeding, the crowd wanted to take Jesus by force and made Him king. They even followed Jesus to the other side across Galilee. Jesus accused the crowd of following Him only to satisfy their empty bellies. Jesus then refocuses the conversation upon more spiritual matters, famine of God’s Word. The reflection for you and me is why are you following Christ today? Why are you in the ministry or church leadership? Are you doing what you are doing in the church to satisfy your empty belly and desires? It is possible to be in the church without being part of the church just as those following Jesus were not in reality seeking Him but foolishly seeking things that are perishable. Pride and unbelief wells up in this passage. The crowd wants more proof from Jesus (v. 30).
In the reading we recognize that our spiritual need is greater than physical need. Our famine is more spiritual than physical. Like many of us today, we are working for food that spoils, debating about issues without eternal values. Jesus’ advice to the crowd is applicable to us today. Jesus said, “Work for food that gives eternal life.” Beloved, there are food and things of this life that does not give eternal life. Bread as the most basic of human needs is a fundamental part of daily life for nourishment, sustenance, and vitality. “Give us this day our daily bread”, we are taught to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Why? Because we need it. The bread we buy in the grocery store gives life. But that bread molds and spoils. The world’s famine today is not an ordinary famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing God’s Word (Amos 8:11). The major sign when this famine sets in is that, people will not hear God’s Word. Instead they will hear lies and fairy tales. The church is declining and the world is in the chaotic situation today because God’s Word is not being taught ‘and worse than that something else in place of the Word of God is being given to the people. There’s a famine taking place throughout the land.’ People are wandering from sea to land looking for the Word of God, going from doctrine to doctrine, practice to practice, religion to religion, from mindset to mindset, and book to book, all to no avail but decline and divisions. The famine in the church nurtures the world’s famine, men and women are fainting for thirst and hunger for the actual Word of God.
Jesus said He can give us bread that is everlasting. Jesus makes an exclusive claim and solution to the world’s hunger. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” You cannot get this bread anywhere else because Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). Peter said in Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the one who gives the meat that leads to eternal life (v.27). He is the one whom God, the Father, has sealed (v.27). He is the one whom God, the Father, has sent (v.29, 40, 57). He is the one on whom we must believe (v.29). He is the TRUE bread from heaven (v.32). He is the one who came down out of heaven (v.33). He is the bread that gives abundant life to the world (v.33). He promises to quell our hunger and quench our thirst (v.35). This bread is contrasted with manna of which those who ate, died. This bread is not the Lord’s Supper. This bread that gives eternal life is exclusively Jesus Himself. We are nourished by Jesus when we begin trusting and obeying Him. When we rely on Jesus for taking care of our needs, He gives us eternal life. Eating of the bread is learning about Jesus. It is the teaching about Jesus which we must believe in order to be saved. This teaching includes the fact of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. This teaching includes the fact that those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life hence, a call to repentance. Jesus is the source of salvation for all mankind (John 3:16).
Today, everyone is hungry and thirsty after something. The home, family, community and nation are hungry and thirsty thereby looking for bread and water from different means and medium. The Bible says, “Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn 4:13-14). No democracy, debate or human policy can solve the problem of hunger and thirstiness in the world. In obedience to Jesus declaration, we must hunger and thirst after righteousness, living by every Word of God. The grass withers and the flower fades, the word of God is forever. The Bible says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, Lk 4:4).
Righteousness not only exalts a nation, righteousness prospers homes, marriage and grows churches. The question is what bread are you eating and where is the source of your water coming from? Jesus as the Bread of life calls us to have the attitude of Jeremiah, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). Jesus as the Bread of life calls us to develop sweet taste for God’s word, sweeter than honey to our mouth (Ps 119:102).
Bread and water are motifs of the Word of God as food. Jesus as the Bread of life from heaven is able to meet our physical needs just as He is able to meet our spiritual needs. Bread is this associated with life, health, nourishment, and prosperity. There are two conditions to receive the Bread of life from Jesus. Jesus said, “Those who come to him spiritually will never hunger or thirst again, but his audience is kind of confused. We must not only come to Him or even just come to church, Jesus said, “he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (v. 35). To come to Jesus and to believe in Jesus calls us to set aside our pride in humility and brokenness. The only way to partake of this bread is simply cling to the Cross just as Isaiah says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Is 55:1)). Heaven’s bread is a Person, Jesus Christ. Heaven’s bread has power, has promise, and has a price. Heaven’s bread grants salvation, satisfaction, and security. Let us sing together humbly, asking God to fill our cup:
the woman at the well, I was seeking|
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking—
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”
my cup, Lord;|
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
are millions in this world who are seeking|
For pleasures earthly goods afford.
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.
my brother if the things that this world gives you|
Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray—