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The Names of Jesus
“The Bread of Life”
Today’s name is one of eight names, the first one to be exact, that Jesus used of Himself proclaiming His deity by attaching His name, “The Bread of Life, to God’s holy name, “I AM.”
“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 NKJV)
Bread is the most common food throughout the world, and is consider one of life’s staples. It is a basic component of every diet. This is why its been given the moniker, “the staff of life.” It is life’s main source and sustenance.
There are many things that bread is made into. Besides bread for sandwiches, you have bread as a major component of snacks. You also have cakes, doughnuts, bagels, English muffins, and buns.
Bread comes in a variety of different shapes. There is what is most commonly seen in supermarkets, and that is loaves. But you have also round, oblong, and flat. And those who supply all these bread products around the world are too numerous to count.
There are also various types of bread including white, wheat, multigrain, rye, sourdough, Italian, French, pita, flatbread, soda, corn, zucchini, pumpernickel, tortilla, as well as many others that I cannot pronounced from different countries.
But there is one more type of bread, and one that shapes our story, and that is Matzo.
Matzo is unleavened bread, and leaven is symbolic of sin in the Bible.
Not long after Jesus fed another multitude, 4,000 men, not counting women and children, which would put the number more around 12,000, with seven loaves and a few small fish, the disciples had forgotten to take bread for the journey. This is when Jesus then told them to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus then referenced both the feeding of the 5,000, which is our story today, and the 4,000 that just happened, Matthew 15:32 – 16:12.
The disciples realized that Jesus talking about physical bread, but rather He talking about the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which directly contradicted Scriptures, thus sin.
Unleavened bread is therefore bread that is, symbolically speaking, without sin, which speaks directly to Jesus being the bread of life, because He was without sin, 1 Peter 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5.
Throughout our story, where Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life, Jesus is seen repeating Himself often, saying the same thing in a multitude of different ways, which means that His name, the Bread of Life, and His mission as such was something He didn’t want us to miss.
The story is found in John chapter 6.
It begins with Jesus feeding a great multitude. It says that the men totaled 5,000, but when you also count the women and children, this is probably more like 15,000.
The next day, the people came seeking him, but not for the right reason.
Jesus said, “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 NKJV)
They were in it for the free meal, and as such they were missing out on the spiritual significance, that right there in front of them was Jesus, the Messiah, the bread from heaven.
He then tells them that their search for physical food was in vain saying, “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, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27 NKJV)
Now Judaism, being a works oriented religion, that is, they were concerning with keeping the law to become righteous, the Jews asked the most logical question.
“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28 NKJV)
Humanity always wants God to conform to their way of thinking, rather than conform their thinking to God’s way and word.
And so Jesus said that is isn’t about works, but belief.
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:29 NKJV)
And then being the wicked and adulterous generation that they were, Jesus’ words not mine, Matthew 16:4, they asked for a sign, but not just any sign, one specific to this idea of bread and feeding the multitudes.
After Jesus fed the 4,000 the Pharisees and Sadducees came and asked him for a sign from heaven. After calling them hypocrites and their inability to discern what was right in front of them, Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah, that is, just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the fish, so Jesus would be three days and nights in the grave.
But here in our story the sign they desired was for Jesus to do an even greater miracle than multiplying five small fishes and a couple of loaves of bread and feeding the 15,000 plus people.
Talk about being picky with their miracles.
What they wanted was for Jesus to do what Moses did, and that is bringing manna down from heaven. It was here that Jesus had to set them straight that Moses didn’t supply them with Manna, God did, and He was about to do something even greater than what they expected, and that is to give them the true bread from heaven.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give 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.” (John 6:32-33 NKJV)
And just to make sure they knew exactly who that true bread from heaven is that gives life to the world, Jesus said, “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 NKJV)
By equating Himself with bread, what Jesus is saying is that He is humanity’s true source of nourishment, and as such He is essential to life. He is God’s divine provision for humanity.
And just to make sure they didn’t miss what He said, Jesus repeated this several times in different ways.
• “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33 NKJV)
• “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:37 NKJV)
• “I am the bread of life … This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.” (John 6:48, 50 NKJV)
• “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:51 NKJV)
Jesus wanted to make sure they realized that He is that miracle, that He is the sign. Not only is He greater than Moses, but also God is now doing something greater than just bringing down manna from heaven, which they ate, and eventually died.
Jesus is that greater manna, He is the true bread from heaven and all who partake of Him, that is, all who believe in Him will never die but will have eternal life.
The only thing that changes for a believer when they die is their residence.
And so what we see is that the religious leaders’ idea of manna and what gives life is faulty and inadequate.
When the Jews saw all this white stuff in the wilderness they called it Manna. But when we realize what that name means, it lends itself to how the Jews also responded to Jesus as well. They called it “manna,” because they didn’t know what it was. “Manna,” means, “What is it.”
So just as the Jews didn’t realize what God did for them in the wilderness in giving them manna, neither did they realize what God was doing for them in giving them His Son, Jesus, the true bread from heaven.
We see this in what they said.
“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven?’” (John 6:42 NKJV)
Just as the Jews in the wilderness didn’t realize that the manna was God’s daily portion of food, they also didn’t realize that Jesus was God’s manna, that is, food directly from heaven that gives eternal life.
Jesus is the real manna, He is the true bread from heaven, and He is the living bread of God who satisfies the hunger of the human soul.
You might say that Jesus is the real and true soul food.
Jesus is All Sufficient
Jesus being the bread of life, and bread being symbolic of life and sustainability, means that Jesus is our all-sufficient savior. He meets all our needs for this life and eternal life. He meets the needs of everyone’s soul and in the end He is sufficient to strengthen, satisfy, and save.
We see such supernatural strength given to the prophet Elijah.
After the miracle on Mount Carmel, where God sent down fire from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, and then sent rain to end the three year drought, Elijah found himself running for his life from queen Jezebel for killing all of her false prophets.
While he was feeling sorry for himself in the wilderness he laid down to die, but was awakened twice by an angel and commanded to eat some bread and drink water that was supernaturally supplied. And it gave him the strength to journey 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb, 1 Kings 19:1-8.
We see such strength given by Jesus to the Apostle Paul.
Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
And the reason is because what Jesus said to Him,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
And so, being the Bread of Life, Jesus is sufficient to give us the strength to live for Him every day
Jesus said that whoever believes in Him shall never hunger or thirst, John 6:35.
Jesus satisfies the basics of life, not biological, but spiritual. This is exactly what He said in the Beatitudes.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 NAS)
Eating and drinking is a direct response to hunger, at least it’s suppose to be. And so when it comes to humanity’s spiritual life, they are empty and hungry. The only thing that can fill and satisfy an empty and hungry soul and spirit is Jesus, the bread of life.
In Isaiah 55:1, the Lord said, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2 NKJV)
Jesus is then sufficient to not only give us strength to live out each day, but also to satisfy our most basic desires.
Physical bread can sustain life for a time, but not for long. After time the body will die, even though it has been well fed.
Wheat has been the mainstay in humanity’s diet from the foundation of civilization. It is easily grown and cultivated, can be kept for years, and extremely nutritious. Today, however, with all of the modifications that have been made, it is found to be making people sick.
With the advent of technology, food processing, and genetic modifications, bread has become in a word, toxic. In fact, they made wheat pest resistant. Pest problems have been eliminated because not even the pests want it, and that is because it has literally been stripped from most of its nutrients.
Wheat is now mostly indigestible and turns into fat. There is now a word for this type of fat, it’s called having a “wheat gut.”
But the bread that comes down from heaven, that is, Jesus, brings life, not biological life, but spiritual life and thus eternal life.
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.” (John 6:48-50 NKJV)
Jesus goes on to say, “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.” (John 6:51 NKJV)
Jesus is sufficient to save.
This is seen in another title or name for Jesus as “The Great Shepherd.”
Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28 NKJV)
And so Jesus is sufficient to save to the very end, which by the way never comes, because when we believe in Jesus He gives us eternal life in heaven in the presence of God.
Partaking of Jesus
Now we get to one of the most controversial and misunderstood sayings of Jesus, one that caused His disciples to leave, that is with the exception of the twelve.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56 NKJV)
To eat His flesh and drink his blood is symbolic, because in no way would Jesus tell us anything that would go against God’s word and law.
In the law it states, “Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat.” (Deuteronomy 12:23 NKJV)
So exactly what did Jesus mean? To eat the bread of life and to drink His blood is to believe in Jesus. It means to take Jesus into our soul and spirit the same way we take food and drink into our body.
He is the source then of all spiritual nourishment. As the bread He nourishes, and as the blood He cleanses, just as the writer of Hebrews says, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV)
But how do we know what Jesus is saying is spiritual? It is through what Jesus goes on to say in John 6:63.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63 NKJV)
After the disciples left, with the exception of the twelve, Jesus asked the remaining twelve why they don’t leave as well, to which Peter gives to Jesus the ultimate statement of faith, which after I lost everything was what I held onto.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69 NKJV)
And it is with this understanding that we can come to the Lord’s Table and participate in communion.
This name and story of Jesus being the Bread of Life, is often attached to the taking of communion.
It was on the night of Passover, the same night and day that Jesus was betrayed, crucified, and buried. They were in the “upper room” and after the meal Jesus took the unleavened bread, that is, bread symbolic of having no sin, and said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” He also took the cup, the third cup of the Passover known as the Cup of Redemption saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20 NKJV)
It is not as some would intimate that the bread and wine turns into the literal body and blood of Christ while keeping the appearance of bread and wine, or what is known in Theological circles as transubstantiation.
Jesus said to do this in remembrance of Him. What Jesus was ultimately pointing to was that through this act of eating the bread and drinking from the cup is our abiding in Him and how Jesus will abide in us, and through this union we can have eternal life.
Jesus said, “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 NKJV)
Jesus is the bread of life, the heavenly manna, the bread come down from heaven who gave His life so that all of those who believe in Him, all who have partaken of His wonderful gift of salvation, can have eternal life. It is this He wishes and desires for us to remember.
At the end of World War II, the Allied forces found many hungry and starving orphans. And while they received excellent care and were well fed, the orphans couldn’t get or stay asleep. One psychologist came up with a solution that worked. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold onto when they went to bed. This allowed the children to sleep soundly, because they were assured they would have food the next day.
If you want peace and comfort for your soul knowing that no matter what tomorrow may bring, hold onto Jesus, He is the bread of life, bread from heaven, bread that gives eternal life to all who partake of it, that is, for all who believe in Him.
Now, going back to the manna given in the wilderness, note that it was a one-day supply only. But this is not the case with God’s heavenly manna, that is, Jesus.
After His death and resurrection Jesus went into the heavenly temple once and for all with His blood, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life, Hebrews 9:11-15. Notice that it’s once and for all, not once a day.
But here’s the catch, that while we are saved, in order to live an effective life for Him, we must strengthen ourselves upon His daily provision. What do I mean by His provision? Jesus has given to us everything we need to be nourished and strengthened on a daily basis.
He has given to us His word, the Bible. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NKJV)
He has given to us the ability to communicate with Him daily through prayer. Because Jesus rose from the dead and entered into the heavenly temple with His own blood for our cleansing, the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)
And the greatest gift that Jesus provides to all those who believe is that of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7 NKJV)
Come to Jesus and partake of Him as the Bread of Life, and receive all that you need to live your life effectively, and once this life is over, you will have heaven and an eternal life in His presence.
This is the will of the Father as Jesus states
“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NKJV)
Let us therefore be like that deer whose desire is for water.
The Psalmist said, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NKJV)
May this be our desire today.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study