The Bread of Life invites you to believe, but so many of us say, “I’d only be happy if. . .” and chase after temporal things like success, security, love, acceptance, and things. Donna Hart, PhD, a BCC counselor, helps us think through what we value most: bread or the Bread. Her article first appeared here on her website and is used with permission.
If you had to write down your dream for a perfect life, what would you write? What would be your “if onlys”? How would you complete the sentence, “God if you gave me this…then I could be happy”?
The events that occur in John 6 open our eyes to a clash that is going on between what people think a perfect life should look like and how God might have a different agenda for us.
In John 6, Jesus takes a little boy’s lunch and turns it into a meal for 5,000 people with 12 baskets of food left over. The talk among the people must have been buzzing.
“This is it. He is the Messiah! He is the One we must make Him king!”
How Does Jesus Respond?
He runs, escapes, withdraws, and disappears to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. In John 6:25 the people catch up with Him and ask, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.
The people ask what they must do to do the work of God. Jesus replies, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.
The people inquire of Him what sign He will give them so that they would believe. Jesus responds,
Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
The people ask that they could have that bread.
Jesus then responds,
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
The people were not getting the point; the physical blessing of bread was pointing to a much deeper spiritual reality. The people were not pursuing Christ out of a humble willingness to follow Him as the Messiah. Instead, they were pursuing Him for selfish gain and a hope that He would be the One who met their felt needs.
Do You Want What God Wants?
What do you want from Christ? Whose dream are you bringing to Him? Is your dream nothing more than your own personal life of perfect ease?
1 Peter 1:3-5 gives us an understanding of what we have been given in Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Do we understand what we have been given? We have been chosen to be saved by God’s mercy. Our sins have been forgiven. We are a part of God’s family and we have an inheritance waiting for us. Yet how often do we sit and say, “That’s wonderful, but what about now?”
Let’s get a bigger picture of God’s goal and vision for us!
We are people “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:5-9).
There is something much deeper going on here than getting our desires met now.
The message from God is that He is willing to compromise our wants now in order to produce something greater, fuller, and deeper: a genuine faith. This is what God is after in the midst of those difficult experiences that cause us to wonder if He really loves us and if He is hearing our prayers.
What About Pain in Trials?
In the midst of the trial we say, “Why me?” when we should be saying, “Thank you, Lord.” We need to recognize in the midst of it all that God is not done with us yet; it is His redemptive love at work.
The blessings that God gives us are meant to point to a deeper and much fuller blessing, the blessing of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. Abundant life is not our relationships with husbands, wives, significant others, or children. It is not what we own or our jobs.
Abundant life is Jesus Himself; He is abundant life.
Jesus says that He is the bread of life. What kind of bread do we hunger for and feed on? Do we sometimes find ourselves acting like the people in John 6 who pursued Jesus only for the bread and fish? We can be coming to Jesus because we are holding on to our dreams and hoping somehow Jesus will help us achieve them.
If we are living for earthly bread, then we are going to be disappointed when we don‘t get it. If we are living for a deeper communion with God, then the result will be that all our relationships will become a place to live out that communion. When two people, who are committed to Christ, long to know Him better, more fully and deeply, and long for their lives to be expressions of praise and worship to the Lord, they will experience unity and intimacy that the world doesn’t know. There is only one Bread–it’s Jesus, and life is found in feeding on Him.
Jesus said in John 6:53-59,
…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…
What’s Your Response?
When the people heard this message they fled. Not only did the crowd forsake Him, but Scripture says that many of His disciples left as well (v. 66). They said, “…This is a hard saying; who can listen to it” (v. 60).
This is indeed a hard teaching. We need to be honest with ourselves, and start with humble honesty. What is the deep hunger in our hearts? Is the hunger in our hearts for Christ? If our hunger is for Christ, then it is an opportunity for growth in all our relationships.
Growth will come in the midst of trials; it will be a bumpy path, but by the power of the Spirit it will lead to conformity to Christ.