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
Did you know that the average American consumes 53 pounds of bread every year? That’s around 17 billion pounds of bread consumed in our country every year. Wow!
Needless to say, bread is immensely popular with us Americans…and with good reason. It’s delicious and versatile. It can be eaten on its own with some butter, cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly. it can be hot, room temperature or soaked in an egg and cinnamon for french toast. It’s used to contain sandwich meat, burgers and hotdogs, and to form the crust of pizza. There are so many varieties–pitas, English muffins, croissants, yeast rolls, garlic knots, bagels, Italian, French, Cuban baguettes. It gives you energy and can fill you up. Bread is truly a beautiful thing in the food world and has been for centuries.
So, it’s no wonder that Jesus used it when describing Himself. Interestingly, the “I am” statement found in John 6:35 [the first of the “I am” statements given by Jesus in the Gospels] came on the heels of Jesus feeding 5000. There, Jesus turned five loaves of bread and two fish into an amazing feast for the masses.
The day after this miracle, the crowd was clamoring for more, so when they caught up to Jesus, He said, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval” (John 6:26-27). And yet, they still didn’t understand what He was trying to tell them! Instead, they wanted to be able to do the things Jesus did, to “perform God’s works.”
So, Jesus tells them the only work God wants from them is their belief in Him! But apparently, feeding 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and fish wasn’t convincing enough, they wanted another miracle–bread from Heaven, a la Moses–to which Jesus responded, “The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). And when they asked for this bread, Jesus dropped a bombshell that caused much discussion. He said, “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). And He takes it one step further, declaring in verse 51: “I am the living bread from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
In a few days it will be good Friday. The day that these verses come full circle. On that day, the bread of life was broken for us! His body was literally torn apart for our sins, to pay the price on our heads: death. He endured our cross so we wouldn’t have to…so we could partake in the miracle of the bread of life and experience life everlasting with Him!
As you reflect on the events of Good Friday, and as you take communion, consider what this broken bread and cup of wine symbolize: the suffering, shame, and pain that Jesus took in our place. Doesn’t that just hit you right in the core of your being? Reflect on what compelled Jesus to take our place on that cross: love! That’s right, He loves us so much that He voluntarily endured the cross for everyone. He loves us more than we can possibly imagine, and His love transforms us in way we could never fathom.
I am overwhelmed with emotion at the love that Jesus displayed on that day for me, a sinner. I think of how much I love my children and grandchildren and know that God loves me so much more and that is incomprehensible to me. How is that possible? How has Jesus enriched and impacted your life? Do you take the time to let Him know what it means to you that He took your place on the cross? When I think of the pain and agony that He went through for me, I get very emotional and knowing that He would have done it even if I had been the only human on earth. He loves us that much!!