“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
The most basic nourishing food to keep one alive is bread. The first temptation the devil offered the hungering Jesus in the wilderness was to turn stones into bread. What did the 5000 want after a long day with Jesus? Bread, which He gave them. When the Israelites complained that they missed sitting by the meat pots and eating bread to the full, God rained down on them bread from heaven. What do we pray for daily? Our daily bread. Yet whilst God provides for our bodily needs, the Lord of Life sees something even more important than sustaining our mere existence when He says, “I am the Bread of Life”.
The ‘I Am’ sayings of Jesus are emphatic in construction and would be recognised by the scholar to be like the great I AM. At God’s appearance to him at the burning bush, when Moses asked whom he is to say has sent him, God says, “I AM WHO I AM. Say to the people, ‘I AM has sent you’”, and in the next verse: “The LORD, the God of your fathers has sent me to you”. The Hebrew word for LORD sounds like, and is derived from, I AM.
Today we consider the Last Supper, just prior to Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. In His most extensive teaching, Jesus prepares His disciples for what must follow, and gives also the Institution of the Holy Sacrament. We are reminded of His word, “I am the Bread of Life”, as He broke bread and gave it to the disciples and said, “This is My body, which is given for you”.
How important is this? In the hymn What is This Bread? we sing: ‘It’s Christ’s body risen from the dead. This bread we break, this life we take, was crushed to pay for our release. O taste and see, the Lord is peace’. And marvelling at God’s grace: ‘Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free!’
This giving of Christ Himself to us is a matter of pure grace, and it makes the difference between having life and existing. He is the true Bread from Heaven, who brings forgiveness and abundant life. Feed on Him and live for ever!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.