He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)
Man is the only creature for whom being alive is not enough. As Bruce Springsteen sings, “Everybody needs a place of rest/ everybody wants to have a home / nobody likes to be alone / Everyone’s got a hungry heart.” Saying something similar in his own distinctive way, CS Lewis said, “I cannot find a cup of tea which is big enough or a book that is long enough.” Dissatisfaction runs throughout life – no matter how much one achieves, no matter how much one enjoys, life is like eating a Chinese takeaway – two hours later and you are still hungering for more. CS Lewis again commented that life is like entering a darkened room only with a box of matches – striking them alight never quite gives enough light, and never for long enough. Here in John 6 we have an account of the feeding of the 5000. And having seen the hungry fed, a spiritual hunger develops: if only, comes the deep longing from within, if only our spiritual hunger could be so easily satisfied! And the wonder of it all is that Jesus doesn’t condemn such a longing – instead he sees into the human condition and says his first of seven “I AM” sayings, “I am the bread of life.” And each of these statements ( the Light of the world; the door; the Good Shepherd; the Resurrection and the Life; the Way, the Truth and the Life; and the True Vine) describe the perfections of Christ. It is as if in all situations of life we shall find in Christ all we shall ever need. So when Jesus said he was the Bread of life, what was he meaning?
Bread sustains life. Bread is a necessary food. Bread is a universal food. Bread is a satisfying food.
Very well then, If we do not have Christ we do not have life; Christ is the Saviour of Jew and Gentile; and coming to know Christ means we shall never go hungry – for all eternity.
Life cannot go on without Christ – real life is made possible only through Jesus Christ, and apart from him no one can enter it. Without Jesus there can be existence but no life. Only through Jesus can the restless soul be calmed; only through Jesus can the hungry heart be satisfied. He brings fulfillment, and even beyond this life we shall be safe, and there will be no end of the delight. In this sixth chapter of John, we should note the similarities between manna and Jesus: manna was white, like fallen snow; and Jesus is pure, without any blemish. Manna was accessible – you step out of your tent and it is all over the ground – you either tread on it or you pick it up. The same is true of Jesus – to change the metaphors: Jesus is either the cornerstone of your life, or he is the stumbling block you trip over. You have to take him to yourself, like the abundant manna, or in your ignoring of him it is as if you are treading on him. Also note the similar process between making bread and the way Jesus became the bread of life: the grain must be cut down, Jesus was likewise cut down in his young adulthood; the grain must be bruised, Jesus was beaten black and blue; the grain must be baked, and Jesus went through the fiery trial of his passion and death on the cross. Dieticians like to tell us, ‘we are what we eat’. What we eat and drink becomes part of us. So with Jesus, the Bread of Life: he becomes one with us; we are nourished by him; we are identified with him. In a very real way, being joined to him, we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. I am not being blasphemous when I say, ‘Jesus must be as real to us as steak and chips.’ He is obviously far more real and completely more gloriously useful – but he must never be less real than a four-square meal. God says, “you shall have no other gods before me.” That ‘you shall not’ becomes a triumphant ‘YOU SHALL HAVE ME’. In effect, Jesus says to each of us: ‘You shall have me, the bread of life. Partake of me; I want you to have me; I want to be indispensable to you; I want to be bread to you. Feast on me. Feed on me. Satisfy all your longings in me.’