Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Am the Bread of Life

I was reading John 6 the other day and it struck me how many times Jesus declares himself to be the bread of life - vss. 33, 35, 41, 48, 51, just after the feeding of 5000. I wondered...when Jesus asked his disciples (vs 5) how they were going to feed the 5000 did he have that twinkle in his eye, knowing what was coming next, hinting at the truth of who He was - bread sent to feed the thousands so that they would never hunger again, foreshadowing his revelation that he is the bread of life and that "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him (vs 56). I'm not a theologian so I don't want to get into a discussion about transubstantiation, the Eucharist vs. communion, but there is significance in the passage, taken either literally or figuratively. We have no part of Jesus unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood (vs 53).

Those are some pretty lurid expectations, and Jesus even lost some disciples because it was such a hard teaching (vs 60). I certainly appreciate and relate to Peter's response when Jesus asked him, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Peter's response is simple and sincere, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (vss 67-68) I often feel this same sentiment as I wonder through life filled with joys, pains, highs, lows, hopes and doubts.

You've heard the saying, "You are what you eat", well, even though that isn't literally true (I had toast and tea for breakfast but I didn't become toast and tea), the chemical breakdown of those foods integrate into my blood stream, my muscles, my skin and feed me, nourish me, build me up and give me energy.

While Moses and the Israelites were wandering around in the desert God poured down manna on them, to feed them. It met their dietary needs, and it met their spiritual needs. They were beginning to doubt God's care for them. He led them out to the desert and they were thinking, "This is it, we're going to die!" But God sent bread from heaven to feed on and sustain them, continuing to reveal His love and care for His children.

Jesus was sent from heaven to feed on and sustain us. Without this Bread of Heaven we have no nourishment, nothing to make our blood rich, our skin healthy, our bones strong. Without eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood we wander this desert life getting weaker and weaker. Even though we may eat of Potato-Cheese soup, or Big Macs, these do not "feed" us like the Bread of Life can. We are still hungry - like Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well (whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst - John 4:13). I think I settle for the chicken nuggets too often - wooed by fancy packaging and promise of good taste. But soon after consuming, I'm hungry again, unsatisfied.

When I was a teenager in the Catholic church guitar mass was introduced. I remember one song in particular that I enjoyed singing. The tune of the chorus was particularly uplifting - matching the words. As I was reading John 6 I found myself unconsciously humming the tune. Out of nowhere, this song from 30plus years in my past, caught up with me:

I Am The Bread Of Life
Words and Music: S. Suzanne Toolan

I am the Bread of life,
He who comes to Me shall not hunger,
He who believes in Me shall not thirst.
No one can come to Me
Unless the Father draw him.

Chorus: And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.

The bread that I will give
Is My flesh for the life of the world,
And he who eats of this bread,
He shall live for ever,
He shall live for ever.


Unless you eat
Of the flesh of the Son of Man
And drink of His blood,
And drink of His blood,
You shall not have life within you.


I am the Resurrection,
I am the Life,
He who believes in Me
Even if he die,
He shall live for ever.


Yes, Lord, we believe
That You are the Christ,
The Son of God
Who has come
Into the world.



Paul Merrill said...

Great reminder of where we should look for fulfilling that hunger that plagues all of us.

Sad that I too often look to Mint Milanos...

Viola said...

Thank you so much. What a preparation for Church tomorrow.
Calvin taught that we are continually nourished on the body and blood of Christ. That because we are united to Him in His resurrection we are always fed by him and that communion is an acknowledgment and sign and seal of that.

After losing my temper, not terribly, but enough, at Presbytery today, I really need to think on this.

Hannah said...

Love the new blog! Yeah, that's what I come away with after reading some tough stuff about things I should really be thinking about, right?? Well, I remembered that too and thank you.

mongoosemom said...

Love the picture! The cup has become such an important symbol to me! Noticed you like some of the same movies and books that I love! i discovered Enchanted April and Babette's Feast while in grad school at CCU and love them!mongoosemom

chewymom said...

What a neat post. I appreciate the reminder of ALL of the "bread passages" in the Bible pointing to Jesus as the real bread that fulfills!