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.
Ahh… bread! I do like me some bread! Italian bread (that my family calls Grandpa bread because my Grandpa always served it with meals), rye bread, French bread, delicious garlic Tuscan bread from Wegmans, croissants… well, perhaps that’s more of a pastry, but you get my point. I could eat bread anytime, with practically any type of meal. Bread is such an important staple around the world and throughout history that it has become a general symbol for food and prosperity. Even in the Bible, bread is referenced as a symbol of our physical needs and desires. While teaching the disciples how they should pray, Jesus uses the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) in regard to asking the Father to meet our everyday needs in life.
The manna provided to the Israelites in the wilderness during their wandering is referenced in the passage above. Moses calls manna “…the bread that the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:15b). The Israelites had just been grumbling about all of the “great foods” available to them in Egypt but felt they now were without sufficient provisions. God had given them freedom, protection, a future and His very presence among them, but they were thinking something was being withheld from them. Something which they felt had been available only in their place of bondage.
Similarly, just before this conversation John recorded between Jesus and a crowd of people who had been chasing him around the Sea of Galilee, Jesus had performed a great miracle. He had just fed 4000 men plus the women and children with them. This crowd was heavily focused on the physical expression of their hunger being filled and were not recognizing the greater release from bondage Jesus was offering them. When pressed for a “bigger” sign, Jesus points to the fact that manna was a symbol of something much more important than filling their bellies. It represented the true bread of heaven provided by the Father to give life. And what is the true bread but none other than Jesus himself. This bread provides so much more than just the fulfillment of our everyday needs. It frees us from the bondage of sin and death, it gives us full, abundant, and eternal life. Life with God himself.
Everyday bread, even the delicious garlic Tuscan bread, leaves us unfulfilled and needing more. This idea can apply to many aspects of our life: relationships, careers, hobbies, money, things, etc. We tend to look to these to satisfy us, but more often than not, they leave us wanting more or simply desiring the latest version.
What about you? Are you seeking “bread” that will inevitably fail to adequately sustain you or are you ready to seek the One who is the bread of life? The bread that never fails to sustain, provide for and fulfill our every need beyond our earthly existence.
If you are willing to receive him, Jesus promises you will never be hungry or thirsty. Receive the Bread of Life, you will truly be satisfied through Him.