And 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. John 6:35
In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven emphatic I AM statements, each employing a vivid metaphor to describe His salvation work. But in each of the conversations or discourses, He also exposes us.
In John 6, the crowds catch up to Jesus in Capernaum the day after He has miraculously fed a multitude with just a small lunch. He cuts to the chase.
He calls them out for tracking Him down because He met their superficial needs. “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” John 6:26 Notice, He begins with “most assuredly,” the one the KJV renders, “verily, verily.” This is an authoritative pronouncement, not just a casual observation. He recognized their true motivation. It was to have their bellies filled on the cheap, no effort, no cost on their part. In short, they wanted a Messiah who would make their lives easier.
Why do we follow after Jesus? Is it so our lives will be easier?
But He doesn’t stop there.
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, …” John 6:27a Don’t spend your time and energy satisfying yourselves. Instead, focus on eternity, on everlasting life. And notice, that everlasting life is something the Son will GIVE you. They missed that. Their next question proves it. “What must we do…?” They wanted a Messiah who needed their contributions. And they wanted to be recognized for their work.
Likewise, we are uncomfortable having our weaknesses pointed out. We prefer to think we somehow earned God’s favor or provision or salvation. Or we believe we can’t hang on to it unless we perform. God gave us one job (v. 29) – Believe in the One He sent, which means embracing our own inadequacy.
What sign will you do, that we might believe? John 6:30 The crowds wanted more proof, more demonstrations, more favors. Jesus tried to make them see the greatest sign was salvation. The fact that a holy God made became flesh in order to make a way for sinful man to be forgiven and cleansed was enough of a miracle and demonstration. They wanted a Messiah who performed for them.
Jesus responded, “I AM the Bread of Life.”
We don’t need signs. Our most basic need, the need we cannot fulfill, is a restored relationship with God. All the other things are a distraction. It’s no accident that Jesus chooses bread for this metaphor. Bread is common, familiar, basic. So is our need for salvation.
Too often though, once we have received that Bread of Life, we become like this crowd and like the Israelites after receiving manna. We become jaded, entitled and unimpressed with the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice and the gift of eternal life.
If you want a God who acts when you snap your fingers, who needs your help to accomplish his mission, which is primarily to give you what you want and make your life easier … you have Jesus Christ confused with someone else.
If we are following Him so He can make our material lives better and more comfortable … we have Jesus confused with someone else.
However, if we understand that we have nothing except what He freely gives and what He gives is more about eternity than the here and now … we might be catching on.
Read the rest of the Seven I AM Statements series