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Bread From Heaven

John 6:30-36
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. (NIVUK)

The miraculous feeding of a huge crowd, from a boy’s picnic lunch of five small rolls and two little dried fish (John 6:9), seemed like manna in the desert.  When Moses could not feed God's people on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, God provided food every day (Exodus 16:1-35).  So, the people thought that Jesus must be a leader like Moses who could give them all they needed.  They wanted Him to do that bread-producing miracle every day.  But Jesus said He was not like Moses (and anyway Moses did not provide the manna, but God).  The most important nourishment they needed was not bread for their bodies, but life for their souls.

The people were happy with bread and fish as the sign of God’s provision, but did not want to see where that sign pointed.  It was directed straight to Jesus who is the Bread of Life.  In a way, this conversation is like the dialogue between Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:1-42) when Jesus offered her ‘living water’.  She was keen not to have the daily work of drawing water out of the well, but she eventually decided that Jesus was God’s Messiah.  She believed in Him and so did the people of the town.  But the people around Capernaum refused to believe in Jesus.  He said that the townspeople of Capernaum would be treated even more harshly than Sodom at the judgement (Matthew 11:23).  Like the people of Jerusalem, they refused to submit to Jesus (Luke 13:34).

Then why did Jesus do so many miracles there, and teach so much in the lakeside villages, if their hearts were hostile to Him?  Jesus’ signs and explanation were intended for the trainee apostles (Matthew 13:10-18).  They needed to understand God’s Word for themselves and see how it cut through the illusions of a hostile world if they were to teach it with authentic credibility to those who would believe.  Jesus then started to explain to them that He was the Bread of Life – to the future pastors of the church.  They needed to know that He had been sent by Father God from heaven to give life to those who believe in Him.   

In the same way that food nourishes our physical lives, Jesus enables us to come alive spiritually - being responsive to God, understanding His Word and learning to live in relationship with Him.  Those who trust in Jesus will always be satisfied and have enough strength for every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).  With all the pressures of daily life, Christians can forget that they need Jesus every day.  If we stop trusting Jesus we do not have spiritual strength or patience or endurance.  If we do not trust Him, we have no assurance of being loved by Father God, provided-for and kept secure.  So, today, think what it would be like to go back to living without Jesus: and then be very thankful that He has come to you and you have come to Him.  Rejoice that because you have believed in Him, He is meeting every need and will continue to do so until you meet Him face to face.

Life-giving God. Thank You so much for sending Jesus to be the Bread of Life so that I may be satisfied by Your goodness, mercy and grace. I am sorry when I have tried to live in my own strength and energy, or even when I have blamed You for hardships in my life. Please help me to embrace my Saviour with all my heart, and trust Him for all my life, giving thanks that the Bread of Life has come to me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams