Meditations for Troubled Times
“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)
When I lived in Ukraine, my apartment was right down the street from a bakery. Every morning, I woke up to fresh, scrumptious bread. It was warm and soft, and it melted in your mouth. It was delicious, and it was a regular staple at each meal. The same could be said of bread in the first century. When there was food on the table, it likely included bread. The people’s familiarity with it is one reason why Jesus chose it as a metaphor to explain something about himself and what it means to follow him. What does it communicate?
First, we need Christ. He is necessary bread. When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” what was going on? To begin with, a large crowd had recently gathered around Jesus. They had seen him do great miracles, and, so, he began to teach them. However, when it became late, Jesus took five loaves and two fish, and he fed them. With this little bit of food, he fed thousands of hungry people. It was a miracle. It was like God providing for his people in the wilderness after the Exodus. In response, the crowd tried to make Jesus a king. They knew this was no ordinary man. He was the prophet Moses foretold. He was the Messiah, but Jesus withdrew from them. On the next day, they discovered his location and came to him again. Yet, Jesus told them they were following him for the wrong reasons. They were hungry for the wrong things. They wanted physical healing and food for their stomachs. They wanted a political hero who would free them from the Romans. They didn’t realize their true need. They didn’t see just how bad off they were.
Do we? Do we realize that we are a lot worse than we think we are? Frequently, we find ourselves being selfish and prideful. We easily become spiritually stale and hard towards others. We forget that even our good works are like filthy rags before God. We don’t sense our own sinfulness, and these are problems we cannot fix. But Jesus says here that he is able. He is the spiritual food we need. He is the necessary bread. Do you remember what Adam did in the Garden of Eden? He ate forbidden food thinking that it would fill him. As a result, sin and death came into the world. But God restores our souls. How? Metaphorically speaking, through other food, the bread of life, Jesus Christ.
Amidst all the pressures of life, the world will tell you, “Binge on Hulu and TikTok. Stuff yourself with material goods. Put Les Miserable and Hamilton on repeat in your playlist. Fill life with work, family, sports, and friends, and then you will be happy.” However, as fine as these things may be, they will never really or deeply satisfy. They only will leave you hungry and thirsty. Only Christ can truly satiate your soul. He is necessary bread. He is the sustenance you require for salvation and to daily press forward in life. So, Tolle Manduca! Pick up and eat! Take up Christ daily and embrace him repeatedly, for you need him perpetually. We all do.