What the Bible says about
Jesus Christ as Bread of Life
(From Forerunner Commentary)
This is apparently the only material request in the entire model prayer; all the other requests are for spiritual aid such as forgiveness, protection, and guidance. With this in mind, is Jesus telling us to ask for physical food every day? A literal meaning is often the most likely understanding, yet the continuing context of the chapter suggests He had more spiritual matters on His mind. Just a few verses later, in Matthew 6:25-26, 31, He teaches:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . . Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or, "What shall we wear?"
The close proximity of these instructions makes it clear that, in telling us to ask God for our daily bread, Jesus does not have physical food foremost in His mind. What, then, is this "bread" that we are to ask for? John 6:35 provides an answer: "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.'"
The Bible uses the word bread to mean "that which is taken into the body and provides nourishment." Scripture presents two basic types of bread, leavened and unleavened. Leavening consistently symbolizes the corruption of sin (for instance, I Corinthians 5:8, "the leaven of malice and wickedness"). Thus, a Christian has a choice of spiritual nourishment that he can take into himself: He can choose sinless, healthful bread or sinful, corrupting bread. This latter bread comes in a range of varieties from sinful and unhealthy to evil and downright poisonous bread.
The manna with which God fed the Israelites while they journeyed through the wilderness was symbolic of Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:49-51). The account of the giving of the manna in Exodus 16:4, 14-21, 26 shows that the Israelites had a part to play in receiving nourishment from it. They were required to rise early and gather their daily amount before the sun "became hot" and melted it away, or they would go hungry for that day—and perhaps for the next day, if it were a Preparation Day for the Sabbath.
In "the Lord's Prayer," Jesus is instructing His followers to rise early every day and ask God to send the unleavened, sinless Bread of Life to dwell in them. Without the indwelling of Christ through God's Spirit, there is no spiritual life in us (John 6:53, 55-58).
Why is it important that we ask each and every day for this? It is important because God, in His concern to preserve our free-moral agency, will not enter in and live in us uninvited. God is not like an evil demon that will possess us and take control of our lives against our will. He wants us to choose willingly to believe and obey Him and to seek a relationship with Him.
Like a boat trying to dock against the tide, if we do not actively pursue God, then we will slowly drift away from Him (Hebrews 2:1). The cares and pulls of the world seem to distract us easily, and we lose our focus on God. If we are ignoring Him, God may soon become unsure whether we are still choosing to walk with Him. He will try to get our attention back where it should be—on Him and His righteousness—through trials or other circumstances.
Yet ultimately, in order not to override our choice in the matter, God will allow us to slip away unless we repent and actively seek Him and ask for His Spirit. Without God's Spirit in us, we are trying to live and overcome on our own. If Jesus Himself says, "I can of Myself do nothing" (John 5:30), what chance does an individual have to overcome without Christ in him?
Ask and It Will Be Given
The three words, "It is I," are in Greek only two words (ego eimi), and they are much more powerful and significant than most Bible readers realize. Jesus says not, "It is I" but "I am," which is a direct assertion of His deity. Moses had asked God:
"Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:13-14).
Clearly, Jesus is declaring that He is the Yahweh of the Old Testament. Throughout the New Testament, there are a number of significant amplifications of this: Christ is the "I AM" that is the bread of life; the light of the world; the good shepherd; the resurrection; the way, the truth, and the life; and the Alpha and Omega, among other things (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; Revelation 1:8).
In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before the crucifixion, the "I AM" lesson was made unambiguous. When soldiers came to arrest Christ,
He went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?" They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am He" ["He" has been inserted by the translators]. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:4-6)
The disciples in their peril at sea needed the great "I AM." These two words alone should have removed all their fear.
In this incident, the disciples show that they were growing in faith. In the earlier miracle of Christ stilling the storm on the sea, they asked, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Matthew 8:27). Now they have advanced in their knowledge to recognizing Jesus as God (as "Son of God" indicates) and worshipping Him.
Recognizing that Jesus is God means that their worship was correct doctrinally. True worship cannot be separate from true doctrine. Jesus says to the woman at the well, "You worship what you do not know" (John 4:22). He could say this to some even in the greater churches of God today who sadly do not know enough about the Father and Christ. We, too, must know Him as the Son of God and fully divine to worship Him acceptably.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Walking on the Water (Part One)
On the next day, Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, saying, "I am the Bread of Life" (John 6:32, 35, 48). Though willing to receive the physical bread, many would not receive the living Bread—Jesus Christ who came down from heaven. Thus, the miracle of feeding the multitude was actually a sermon with visual aids.
The main lesson of the miracle is that Christ is the Bread of Life to a dying humanity, and in Him, there is enough to satisfy the entire world. Only He can satisfy the spiritual hunger in mankind. Jesus says, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. . . . Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:51, 53). The Bread that is Jesus gives life in the present (John 6:35, 47) and eternal life in the future (John 6:27, 40).
The tragedy is that people waste time and money on "that which is not bread" (Isaiah 55:1-7). Waste is an enemy of miraculous generosity, so great care was taken to collect the leftovers, though we are not told how they were used. The lesson is that overabundance does not justify waste.
We also learn that Christ asks that we give Him all that we have and allow Him to use it as He sees fit. When we do this, we never lose, always ending up with more blessings than when we started.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Feeding the Five Thousand (Part Two)
John 6:31-40 is an encouraging passage, showing that we are never alone. Therefore, guidance and help in governing ourselves is ever-present as we walk the path toward God's Kingdom.
These verses give people of faith solemn assurance that Christ is always present in our lives and always willing to help. Jesus makes the ironclad promise in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave nor forsake us. A large portion of Jesus' preaching in John 6 is a comparison between food that satisfies a person's hunger and also provides strength and energy to carry out his responsibilities. At the same time, we understand that food enters the body as one eats and becomes a more or less permanent part of the body as the body uses it.
The illustration is drawn from Israel's pilgrimage through the wilderness when God mercifully and miraculously provided food in the form of manna. God produced that daily miracle for the Israelite's benefit so that they could physically make it to the Promised Land, in addition to giving us encouragement by His assurances.
Jesus' concern for us is spiritual, and accomplishing our pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God is the goal we strive for. Producing fruit along the way greatly pleases the Father. Bread symbolizes the means of internal, spiritual strength and energy, whereas the fruit metaphor of John 15 is external, something seen and produced because the individual uses the spiritual strength and energy drawn from the "bread."
(We may understand Jesus' instruction in this important discourse more clearly if we focus, not on the term "bread" specifically as bread, but more broadly as including a wide range of strengthening and energizing food.)
Jesus begins in John 6:32 by declaring that He is the true bread. In John 13 and I Corinthians 11, bread is specifically used as a metaphor in a different circumstance. Here, bread is figuratively used as the source of spiritual nourishment, strength, and producing fruit by those making the pilgrimage.
The manna is a type of Jesus Christ. It descended, as it were, from heaven, but the Father was the real Giver. Thus, in the wilderness Moses did not literally provide the manna but only gave instructions for its use. The manna indeed satisfied their immediate need for nourishment for physical strength and energy, but by way of contrast, Jesus, the true bread of God, gives life, not mere nourishment. Verse 34 shows that the Jews, as with virtually everything else He taught, did not grasp His teaching spiritually.
Thus, in verse 35, Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." He explains His mysterious teaching more plainly, essentially saying, "I am the One who both imparts and sustains life." He is, of course, emphasizing spiritual teaching. The Greek shows that He completely identifies Himself with the bread, as it actually reads, "I am the bread of the life." It is not mere life but everlasting spiritual life. He means that through faith and an intimate, spiritual union and relationship with Him that, as the body assimilates actual bread physically, so spiritual assimilation with Him gives everlasting life (John 6:63).
Continuing in verse 35, He adds that "he who comes to Me"—meaning the one who believes in Christ, coming with nothing but sin and needing everything—will in no way become spiritually hungry or thirsty. In other words, he truly will be fed, unlike those in the wilderness who became hungry. Those who come to Him will be given complete and enduring spiritual satisfaction.
Verse 36—where Jesus says to the Jews, "You have seen Me and yet do not believe"—is interesting in that it shows that God does not hold unconverted man guiltless. Indeed, as soon as a person sins, the death penalty immediately falls on his head. Here, Jesus places the entire blame for the Jews' rejection of Him on them. Why? Because, being of Israel, they should have known better by recognizing the fulfillment in Him of familiar scriptures. Thus, their rejection of Him contained a large measure of deliberateness.
Verse 37 ought to be especially encouraging to us because John 6:44 implies that a calling must be given for fuller understanding of what Jesus is teaching. Obviously, we do understand what He is saying, or we would not be in our present circumstance in relation to Him. Verse 37 is a strong promise that He will make every effort to provide us with salvation.
Verse 38, then, asserts to us that, if God calls a person, it is definitely God's will to do so. It is no mistake or happenstance. God's will is being worked in the called one's life. In verses 39 and 40, Jesus adds that it is the will of the Father, and therefore the Son's also, that all those given to Christ should be resurrected to everlasting life!
Verses 39-40 are the closest statements regarding a guarantee of salvation as one will see in God's Word. Verse 58 confirms His words, "This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."
God has appointed Jesus Christ as largely responsible for our salvation. He has already given His life's blood for us so our sins can be forgiven. He has paid the penalty that inhibits us from receiving everlasting life. Once that penalty is paid, the responsibility falls on us to give of our energies to change our lives so that they exhibit consistent obedience.
Whereas in times past we did not care much about our responsibilities to God, it has now become incumbent upon us to be very concerned. In making the New Covenant, we owe submission to the Father and Son, to conform our conduct to agree with theirs. Thus, we will be formed into their image. We must submit to their rule, then, as well as those parts of their rule that they have assigned to others.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part Four)
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