Have you ever been hungry-I mean hungry t-t-t-o-o the bone?
Over the years as a minister I would often fast for days and weeks on end. Like an alligator I would become so hungry that I felt that could eat almost anything. In would sneak- peek into the refrigerator and things that I didn’t even like began to look good.
People who go in for operations and have to stop eating for several days know what I mean. Food dominates your thoughts, so you turn on the TV to get some relief only to find out that half of the TV ads are about mouth watering foods. The wolf within you takes over and you have dreams of acres of pizza and gallons of ice-cream and rivers flowing with your favorite beverage.
At times I could sympathize with the prodigal son who became so famished that he began to eat the pigs’ corn husks. Hunger is a very powerful force because food is essential to life and without it person can do radical things.
Today I want us to look at another Powerful “I Am” statement of Jesus,
“I Am the Bread of Life.”
The Back Ground
Just before Jesus said, “I Am the Bread of Life,” he had performed one of his most popular miracles, feeding the 5000 with five loaves and two fishes. That number 5000 included only men so including women and children the number was closer to 15,000.
The people had been with Jesus since the early morning. By mid-afternoon it was time to send them home. But He knew that many could not make the journey without food. In response Andrew brought a little boy to Jesus who was willing to share his lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. As you know, Jesus then miraculously used this meal, intended to fill the belly of one small boy, to fill the stomachs of 15,000 people and there were even 12 baskets of left-overs! But you know, when you think of it, there were actually Two miracles that afternoon: One that Jesus fed fifteen thousand people with this small amount of food, and the other that this little boy had not already eaten his lunch by mid afternoon! Now that’s amazing!
Well, the day after this great miracle happened some of those who had eaten of the bread and fish has some interesting questions to ask Jesus
“Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.”
He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Notice Three Mistakes These Hungry People Made
1.They Forgot That God Is The Source Of All That Is Good In Life….
When they found Jesus and asked for another free meal, they bragged that Moses had given the Hebrew people bread from heaven every day when they wandered in the wilderness. And Jesus corrected them saying that the source of that bread was God…not Moses. These hungry Hebrews had forgotten the foundational truth that all we have in this life is traceable back either to the earth or mankind-and God created them both. God is the source of everything…
As an anonymous poet expressed it:
“Back of the loaf is the snowy flour; Back of the flour, the mill; Back of the mill are the wheat and the shower and the sun and the Father’s will.”
And you know, we can very easily buy into this same misconception today. Our income level makes it possible for us to have full cupboards and bulging closets and garages that we can’t get the car into anymore; and as a result, all too easily forget the basic fact that everything we HAVE and everything we ARE simply would not be if it were not for God.
As John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word. All things were made by Him and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” Or as James puts it, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow nor turning. (1:17)
We must never allow hunger or even prosperity blind us to the fact that all we have…all our blessings…are from God.
The story is told of a farmer who visited a large city. In a restaurant he ordered food and prayed a prayer of thanks before eating it. At the next table sat some tough young men. One cried, Hey farm boy! Where you come from, does everyone pray before they eat? The farmer replied, Everyone except the hogs. Like this wise farmer, we must remember to give God credit for every blessing of life.
The Second Mistake These Hungry People Made Was
That miracles would satisfy their spiritual hunger.
Now you can’t be a Christians and not believe in miracles. The first verse in the Bible is the greatest miracle of them all. But miracles alone in your life, day after day after day would only make you want more and more and more of the same.
Such miracles would not make you love God for Who He Is but like Santa Claus want him only for what he can do for you.
God is not just a God of power He is a God of Love of relationship, of fellowship.
(Read John 3:16)
Like a hungry dog at a Dog Show God doesn’t want you to be looking only at his hand for what He is going to give you; he wants you to worship him for who He is personally; your creator and your redeemer.
Jesus always performed miracles for one or two reasons. He did so either out of compassion for a hurting person, or to teach an important spiritual principle about Himself.
Well, why didn’t Jesus just DO what they asked and perform another miracle right then and try to convince them that He was the SON of God-the Bread of life?
Because like little children they were more interested in the Gift than the Giver.
They had just witnessed one of Jesus’ greatest acts of power and if seeing a miracle the first time didn’t lead them to believe Who He said He Was, it is doubtful that a second would have that affect. Maybe, this is one reason that, with all the power of God in His hands, Jesus was so ambivalent when it came to miracles. He knew that they attracted crowds but they rarely encouraged repentance or long-term faithfulness.
Miracles are like a diner bell that can bring a hungry person closer to God. But all by themselves alone won’t satisfy our hunger for God. Only a personal relationship with the Bread of Life will.
Those thousands of hungry Galileans that followed Jesus that day received a physical miracle all right but what they needed the most, as we all do, was a spiritual miracle. They needed that inner- miracle changing power of God that comes from repenting of our sin and claiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. For in that decision we experience the miracle of everlasting life.
The Third Mistake These Hungry People Made Was
They forgot that the essence of human life is spiritual not physical.
Like so many people today, they were existing merely on the animal level. They were striving to satisfy only their physical desires and as a result they had fat bodies but lean souls. You see, we are not mere animals. We are unique beings; the only creatures in all of God’s creation that have been made in His image. Spiritually, inside, in our Spirit we are like Him. God is spirit and unlike rocks or trees or animals or insects, He has breathed an eternal spirit into each one of us. We are the only beings on this planet with souls. And these souls are eternal.
One thing that separates us from the other creatures of the world is that food doesn’t totally satisfy us. We could have all the food in the world and still be hungry spiritually. And I know this is true because you cannot go anywhere on earth today without finding people hungry for something more than a full belly. There is a restlessness in all of us that craves something more substantial.
As Jesus told Satan when he tempted our Lord to make physical bread with which to satisfy His hunger, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 ) You and I were designed to require more than mere physical nourishment; we were created with the need for spiritual nourishment as well. And this sustenance is only found in Jesus Christ…the Bread of Life.
Now, these days we refer to bread as a Staple food. Some form of bread is part of each of our meals. When you go to a Public or Lion King food store you get lots of things, but you Always get milk and bread. But in Jesus’ day bread was even more central to the people’s daily menu. You see, there wasn’t a great variety of foods in that region of the world; in fact for many people in Palestine bread was often the main course of most meals. Without bread they would have starved to death. It was necessary…essential…for the continuation of physical life. So by referring to Himself as the BREAD of life Jesus was saying that He was essential. He was the ONE whom men and women cannot do without.
But these hungry Galileans missed this truth and today people make the same mistake. They were trying to fill the God shaped vacuum in their soul with temporal things.
Truth or Consequences
- There is the hunger for Truth and Jesus Alone Is the Truth, the answer to life’s greatest questions.
- There is the hunger for Life and Jesus Alone is the Life-Giver, eternal life.
- There is the hunger for Love and Jesus Alone Can Give Us That Love That Outlasts Even Death.
Like a full stomach the pleasures of this world are temporary and fading. Only a relationship with Jesus can satisfy the immortal longings and the insatiable hunger of the human heart and soul. As St. Augustine once prayed, You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you!”
Only in Jesus do we find food for our souls…food so satisfying that as He says in verse 35, those who come to Him, …will never go hungry, and…never be thirsty.
He alone can satisfy our spiritual hunger for He Alone is the Bread of Life.
After Jesus revealed Himself as the one and only Bread of Life that day many of His followers left Him for good.
In verse 60 they said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it.”
Verse 66 it says, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”
What about you? Can you accept this Hard Teaching that Jesus is the only way to satisfy your hunger for abundant life? Will you turn and walk away from Jesus or will you embrace Him as Savior and Lord.
God Is Never More Than a Prayer Away