26 Jesus replied, “I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you…51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
As a staple of life, bread is common and yet uncommon because it does have so many different forms. There’s white bread, wheat bread, pumpernickel, French, Italian, pita, tortilla, sour dough, and the list goes on and on. Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life.” All of those other breads will grow stale and inedible in a fairly short period of time. Jesus came offering a new kind of bread, one that nourishes perpetually, sustains relationships and bolsters hope.
God knows how fragile our relationships are, how fragile our very lives are, and God knows that we need to be continually fed. In Jesus Christ God leaves a trail of bread crumbs out of the wilderness of hopelessness and estrangement and into relationship, into community. Something inexplicable happens when we start picking up and eating those seemingly small and insignificant bread crumbs of life. When we come to ingest the hope, and peace, and unconditional love that is Jesus Christ, we come to realize, maybe for the first time, that the very presence of this bread means that there is no sin big enough to keep God from loving us.
So many people live, or rather exist, without the food of hope. Some suffer from obesity but remain malnourished as they try to fill the hole within themselves with food that doesn’t last. Others search hopelessly for a human relationship that will make all their loneliness and troubles disappear. Still others surround themselves with material goods, or engage in addictive behaviors only to discover their hunger is never satisfied. They live lives of malnourishment, estranged from themselves; estranged from family and loved ones; estranged especially from God. Hopelessness breeds such estrangement and estrangement inevitably starves the souls of human beings.
In this passage, Jesus has just finished feeding the 5000. The people wanted more. “Give us some of that bread!” the people clamored.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
This bread gives us life because it is our hope. The morsels of bread (faith, love and protection) we “ingest” when we can we have a relationship with Jesus, give us hope. Jesus calls us to offer hospitality to all by offering the same bread. Wherever there is humility, wherever there is gentleness, wherever there is patience, wherever there is unity in the Spirit, wherever there is peace, wherever there is truth spoken in love — there we are fed on the Bread of Life (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Wherever love triumphs over human sinfulness, estrangement, hopelessness — there is the Bread of Life, there is God’s own life given to us and for us.
27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. (John 6:27)