When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed 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. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
It is said that physical hunger is so powerful that those who suffer from starvation can think of almost nothing other than food. Thankfully, I have never been that hungry, but I know what the hunger of dissatisfaction feels like.
Whatever a person feels they are living “without,” whether it is a longed-for relationship, the Instagram-perfect vacation, physical health, or something else, our sense of lack can become the thought that dominates every waking moment.
When my marriage came to a sudden, painful end almost three years ago, I felt the hunger of loneliness on many occasions. Suddenly single, I was now constantly reminded that I live in a world tilted toward couples. Every love song—and there are many—reminded me of this. Every time I saw couples walking hand-in-hand, every time I spotted a wedding band, I was reminded that I was living “without”.
Thanks to an incredibly supportive church family, DivorceCare group, and a wise and compassionate District Superintendent, I was kept from plunging headlong into the search for a replacement. Instead, the daily reality of my relational hunger led me to run hard to Jesus as the bread of life—my daily bread.
When God’s people were living pre-promised-land lives in the wilderness, the idea of daily bread was not a mere theory; it was a harsh reality. If God did not provide, they did not eat—and God did provide what they needed every morning!
Is the same not true for us now? Whatever your area of lack, you will feel like you are starving unless you receive sustenance for each day from God’s hand. And herein lies the surprise and the delight: Jesus himself is that sustenance. Jesus not only provides for your life; He wants to be your life.
What can speak to the heart of the person who feels stuck in the dead-end job? It is Jesus. What gives hope to someone whose dreams have died? Jesus himself becomes the source of filling for a grieving heart. Where is strength for one who has none of their own? It is Christ. Where is forgiveness and redemption for a life pained by sin and regret? Only in Jesus.
As we live in dependence upon and communion with Him, He satisfies us. Jesus does not disappoint.
When we live taking our life from Christ, we find ourselves living a different quality of life than someone who just “eats their fill” of the gifts He provides. Anyone can be happy when God gives them the stuff they want, but when Jesus Himself becomes the Gift, we discover what it means not to be hungry or thirsty, but truly satisfied no matter what we are going through.
When Jesus is the Gift, we are ready to receive His gifts. And His generosity is legendary! But it is Him, whatever He gives or does not give, that satisfies our deepest needs.
Jesus, remind us that you are the Bread of Life, the Gift, the only thing that can satisfy all our longings. You know everything that our hearts long for, and You remind us that You are the only sustenance we need. Help us to run to You daily. Amen.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®
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Chris Harder is lead pastor at Williams Lake Alliance Church in the Canadian Pacific District. He loves small-town life, running, XC skiing, and back roads motorcycling. Very recently Chris has been blessed by God’s gift of a brand-new marriage.