"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
In America, we live in a society spiritually marked by what some people call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The five central tenants of this religious worldview are:
A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth
God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other as taught in the Bible and by most world religions
The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself
God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem
Good people go to heaven when they die
This is really a Jesus-less belief system. This is American spirituality that has no need for a savior. Jesus has no place or value. He will never be valued because He is irrelevant at best.
Last Sunday we heard that the Lord fed 5,000 with only five barley loaves and two fish. This Sunday we will see the crowd seeking Him out that they might receive more food. Jesus responds that the people ought not to look for temporary food like bread that perishes but for the food that lasts forever, the food that God has commissioned the Son of Man to give to His people.
And the crowd asks what works they must do to get this bread, which reflects the Jewish belief that the Law is the bread that God gives. They are asking about the works of the Mosaic law they must do to find eternal life.
Jesus does not disagree, but that what is to be done is not works of the Law as traditionally conceived; rather, they must put their trust in Jesus Himself. For Jesus is the “Bread of Life.” He is the real manna — the bread of God who satisfies the true hunger of the soul.
The phrase “bread of God” was another name for the bread of the Presence (Lev. 21:6, 8), so Jesus is saying that He is the fulfillment of the bread of the Presence under the old covenant. Christ is far better than the former bread, for anyone, priest or not, can dine on Him by faith; that is, all who are willing can trust in Him alone for eternal sustenance and receive life that can never be taken away. And Jesus will never cast out any who truly put their faith in Him.
Like the crowd in the story, we often come to Jesus only to get what we can from Him. The problem with this is that God is not a mere helper to make our lives better; He is life. Jesus did not come to meet our earthly desires; just for food and water. He came to change our desires.
Our souls are hungry and they definitely crave fulfillment. What are our souls hungry for and how are we trying to fulfill those cravings?
Comfort: We seek comfort in routines, familiar places, and hopeful promises.
Safety: We seek safety in forms of defense and protection.
Provision: We seek provision through resources we acquire or are given.
Significance: We seek significance through service, achievements, and approval.
Love: We seek love through relationships.
Acceptance and Belonging: We seek acceptance and belonging through the ways in which we're treated or perceived by others.
Growth: We seek growth through challenges and investments that are made in us.
Health: We seek health through the care of our body, emotions, and relationships.
It's not wrong to hunger for any one of these things, but Jesus knows that our attempts to fulfill these cravings through material means will fall short and leave us feeling dejected. He is the bread of life. He is living water. He alone can satisfy the cravings of our hearts on the deepest level possible without leaving us disappointed.
In Christ, we find ultimate comfort, safety, provision, significance, love, acceptance, belonging, growth, and health. This is what Jesus was attempting to explain to those who were speaking with Him. This is also what He's trying to convey to us right now. Our hungry and thirsty hearts will find everything we ultimately need in Him. May Jesus, the Bread of Life, fill you with his grace and love. Fr. Bill+