In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now going to cover the ‘I AM’s’ of Jesus. Jesus came with a mission. To reveal the Father and show the way to salvation. Over 20 times in the Gospels He uses the declaration ‘I am’ in explaining who He was. In so doing He was affirming His divinity and His relationship to mankind. The first of these is ‘I am the Bread of life’.
Bread is the staple of all our foods
I’m not sure there’s anything more satisfying than a freshly baked loaf hot from the oven oozing with butter. During World War II, the sale of fresh-baked bread was forbidden as “the tastiness of just-baked bread is likely to encourage people to eat it immoderately”. Rationing was in place and so the bread had to be at least 24 hours old before it was sold.
Essentially bread is the most staple of all our foods and has been from the earliest of times. It is made of flour that has been mixed with milk or water, made into a dough, with or without yeast or other leavening agent, and baked. Yeast was used as a leavening agent in 4,000 BC in Egypt. The Greeks then adopted the method of making bread from the Egyptians which then spread to the rest of Europe. In Rome, bread was thought to be more vital than meat with grain being allotted to the poor on welfare.
Jesus is the bread of life
Bread has a long history being known as being healthy and nutritious filling the stomach as well as the soul. It is any wonder then that Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life’?
The word ‘bread’ appears 410 times in the Bible, 332 times in the Old Testament and 78 times in the New Testament.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:35
We can hunger for many things throughout life. Man seems to have an insatiable hunger. Something we think we really want and need soon becomes familiar and we start to want something else. It seems to be human nature. Always longing but never truly being satisfied. Jesus said that He is the bread of life and if we come to Him we will never hunger again. I have never been a big shopper, but there used to be a certain thrill in buying a new item of clothing. Since studying the teachings of Jesus, I have found that He is changing my desires. I now desire to own less. That thrill of buying something new has gone. But my hunger for Jesus is growing.
Bread becomes sweeter the longer it is chewed
It is a fact that bread becomes sweeter the longer it is chewed. The saliva in our mouths break down the starch into sugars. Is this not true of the Words of Jesus? The longer we chew on them, the more we focus on Him – the sweeter His words become to us.
Jesus had gotton into a boat and arrived on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. A great multitude followed Him. Jesus tested Philip by saying ‘where shall we buy bread that these may eat’? This was the scene set for the miracle of five barley loaves and two small fish, which then fed 5,000 men plus women and children.
The next day the people came looking for Him again. Jesus knew their hearts. He said, ‘You are looking for Me because you ate the bread (yesterday) and were filled. He goes on to explain that the Father in heaven gives the true bread from heaven.
Christ fed five thousand with five loaves
Henry says – Christ had fed five thousand men with five loaves to prove He had been sent of God.
He speaks of Himself as the great gift of God, and the true bread (John 6:32). This He repeats again and again, John 6:33, 35, 48-51. Christ is bread to the soul, what bread is to the body. It nourishes and supports the spiritual life (is the staff of it) as bread does the bodily life. The doctrines of the gospel concerning Christ—that He is the mediator between God and man, that He is our peace, our righteousness and our Redeemer. By these things do men live.
Our bodies could not live without food as our souls cannot live without Christ. Corn is bruised in the making of bread (Isa. 28:28), so was Christ. He was born at Bethlehem, a word that means ‘the house of bread’. He is the bread of God (John 6:33), Divine bread – the food of our souls. The Levitical sacrifices are called the bread of God and Christ is the Great Sacrifice for us.
Christ nourishes by His power
First, He is the living bread (so he explains himself, John 6:51) – I am the living bread. Bread is itself a dead thing and does not nourish except by the help of the abilities of a living body. Christ is Himself living bread and nourishes by His own power.
Manna, that bread that was provided to the Israelites in the desert was a dead thing. If it was kept longer than one night, it putrefied and bred worms. But Christ is ever living, everlasting bread, that never moulds, nor waxes old. The doctrine of Christ crucified is now as strengthening and comforting to a believer as ever it was, and His mediation still of as much value and efficacy as ever.
Secondly, He gives life unto the world (John 6:33), spiritual and eternal life. The life of the soul in union and communion with God here, and in the vision and completion of him in the hereafter. A life that includes in it all happiness.
None are excluded from bread benefits
The manna only reserved and supported life. It did not preserve and perpetuate life. Christ gives life to those that are dead in sin. None are excluded from the benefit of this bread, except those who exclude themselves. Christ came to put life into the minds of men and principles productive of acceptable performances.
As God, Christ had been in heaven, He came to take our nature upon Him with a divine commission. He was in the beginning with God and is the Divine origin of all good which flows to us through Him. Katabas means—that came down (John 6:51), but katabainoi—that comes down continually. He is descending, denoting a constant communication of light, life, and love, from God to believers. Daily as the manna descended daily. (Eph. 1:3 May blessing be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm!)
The manna was a type and figure
He is that bread of which the manna was a type and figure (John 6:58 This is the Bread that came down from heaven. It is not like the manna which our forefathers ate, and yet died. He who takes this Bread for his food shall live forever).
Manna was given to Israel, so Christ is to the spiritual Israel. There was manna enough for them all. In Christ a fulness of grace for all believers. Manna was to be gathered in the morning and those that would find Christ must seek Him early. Manna was sweet, and, as the author of the Wisdom of Solomon tells us (Wisd. 16:20), was agreeable to every palate. To those that believe Christ is precious.
Israel lived upon manna till they came to Canaan. We are to live upon the living bread until we reach heaven. There was a memorial of the manna preserved in the ark. It is so of Christ in the Lord’s supper, a memorial of the food of souls.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
As they were eating, Jesus took bread and, praising God, gave thanks and asked Him to bless it to their use, and when He had broken it, He gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat, this is My body. Matthew 26:26
Give us today our daily bread Bread is man’s elemental need Without it he cannot survive. If he is to stand for the will of God to be done on earth He must be kept alive. So there is indeed great relevancy In asking for daily bread. If he is to be true to God in this evil world He must be nourished, so others can be fed. If God so willed it we could live without bread Even as Jesus did for forty days. But we could not live without His Word Which is the director of all our ways. By that Word we were created And by it alone can we be kept in being. For He sustains all things by it He who is all powerful and all seeing. Bread itself is a secondary source Lord give us Your true bread. That which flows from heaven Let it descend upon our head. Our souls cry out for food. We continually need to be restored. There is no food for the soul Outside of the Word of the Lord. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, You give the true bread that we need to live. May we hunger for this bread more than any other. May we be compelled to rise early to receive this bread from heaven that we be filled and others may be fed. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.