Jesus and Food – The Bread of Life

Jesus and Food – The Bread of Life

Jesus and Food – The Bread of life.

“I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.”   (John 6:35).

I AMthe outlandish claim of Jesus to be co-equal to the eternal God in heaven; the personal Name of Yahweh given to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14; an abbreviated version of the Great I AM, Yahweh, I AM WHO I AM, I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; the scandalous self-declaration of Jesus that He has eternal kinship with the God of Israel; the claim of Jesus that He was divine, and not merely a super-prophet, master teacher, or faith healer; the bombshell self-revelation that He is at one with the Father; an important part of Jesus’ self-identity that He used 23 times in the Gospel of John; the verbal name tag that Jesus liked to wear in both public and private settings.

You’re starting to feel hungry. But you’re not sure what would satisfy your hunger. Nothing is particularly appetizing, and you wonder what food would hit the spot out of all the options available. All of a sudden you see a beautiful round loaf of artisan bread. You smell the rich, yeasty sourdough aroma. You touch the thick, crusty, warm loaf. And you feel the empty rumblings in your stomach. Earlier you didn’t realize you were hungry for fresh bread. But now you know. This is what you were hungering for all along. And after one small taste of its delicious flavor and texture, with a thick layer of melting butter on top, your hunger is satisfied. All it took was one mouthful to convince you.

Like that hungry person above, we were all born with an appetite, a spiritual appetite for God. Only sometimes we aren’t sure what we’re hungering for. You live your life, you seem more or less content. You’re basically a good person, you wouldn’t want to intentionally hurt anybody. You love, and you are loved, for the most part. Why look for more? Life seems just fine the way it is. You just aren’t all that hungry. But you have a vague dissatisfaction, a hint of hunger for something that would bring you more substance. You are starting to feel a hunger for something else in your life, something to sink your teeth into. You sense you need something to stick to your spiritual ribs. You ask yourself, Am I feeding my soul with something it could chew on? You sense you might be having spiritual hunger pangs.

And then, like the hungry person above eating the sourdough bread, you start to experience something that makes you hungry for the bread of life.

You see. Maybe you saw someone who radiated joy and peace, and you wanted just a taste of that in your life. Maybe you witnessed an act of compassion that seemed to sum up the whole point of life. Maybe you met someone who seemed to have an intimacy with God that was like spreading a banquet right in front of you. Perhaps in this way you have seen the fresh bread available to you, your mouth waters, and you could almost taste it.

You sniff. Maybe you walk into a home and you inhale peace in that place. Perhaps you talk with someone and you smell a fragrance from another world, a better world. Maybe you read something that brings a flutter to your heart, a jolt to your mind, a sweet desire to your spirit. This aroma from another world, God’s world, has awakened your taste buds and whets your appetite for fresh bread.

You touch. Maybe in your hunger you shake hands with an old saint, or you get a bear hug from someone who loves you. Perhaps you are holding what might be a holy book, and you love the feel of its pages as you read them, one after the other, food for thought. In some mysterious way, maybe a single touch has brought to mind something transcendent, a hunger for the source of such grace.

You feel. If you’re honest with yourself, your sense of hunger is now more pronounced. There is no denying your hunger pangs for something to satisfy you at a deeper level. You feel the rumbling in your spirit, the quiet growling of your soul for something with substance to chew on. Your longing for soul food points to the bread of life, and nothing else will satisfy you.

You taste. You are tentative at first. Will this bread feed my soul and satisfy my hunger? You decide to dig in with a taste. You acknowledge that your soul is somehow fed, your spirit has a glimmer of satisfaction. You wonder if your good life will now progress to a holy life. You tasted the fresh bread and now nothing else will taste as good. You know that you will want to fill your mind and spirit with this bread, and draw all the nutrition possible from it. The good life wasn’t good enough. You are now convinced that you were craving this bread all along.

“All of us, if we only knew it, are on a hunt for the holy, for a life that cannot be reduced to the way we look or what we do or what others think of us. We are after something – more life than we get simply by eating three meals a day, getting a little exercise, and having a decent job. We’re after the God-originated and God-shaped life: a holy life.” (Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way).