John 6:35 (NIV)
This verse is from the well-known “bread of life” discourse and comes shortly after Jesus and the disciples feed a crowd of 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. After all were fed, Jesus walks on the water to the western side of Sea of Galilee and the crowd follow by boat in search of Him. To their queries, Jesus replies, “You seek Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” In verse 35, Jesus declared, “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The importance of bread is found throughout the Bible. As a matter of fact, my concordance lists some 226 Biblical references to bread, including its use during the Last Supper and as manna for the Israelites during the Exodus. Bread is also mentioned in many of our hymns and our prayers. Bread…the staff of life; a universal food; a staple item. Bread…given in hospitality, taken for nourishment, provided for strength. By equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying that He is essential for life. Further, Jesus is not simply referring to this physical life, but to eternal life.
As I worked on this devotional, I was struck by the timelessness of this powerful analogy. Jesus accused his followers of following simply because their bellies were full. Modern times encourage us to put ourselves first, to fill our own bellies. When we do that, we miss the signs, and opportunities just like Jesus’ followers did. Jesus cautioned against working for food which perishes. There are people today who equate doing good works with God’s grace. Jesus tells us faith in Him is all we need. In this season of Lent, let us remember that HE is our bread of life, our staple, our strength, our nourishment.
A prayer from my great-grandmother at Easter:
On this glorious Easter, our hearts are filled with joy and love, for Thou hast given us our daily bread, and hope of life eternal, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. We know that faith, love, and hope are real, just as we know the lilacs will burst into fragrant bloom in spring. Mayest Thou keep the light of faith glowing in our hearts for ever and ever. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Carol Howel Gomez