What Does the True Bread of Life Mean?

Our human eyes need to open up to the glorious Kingdom of God, and metaphors, as they are widely used in the Scripture, are necessary for us to see differently because the Kingdom of God requires new eyes to see. And in our desire to better understand the Word of God, we also need metaphors to get a glimpse of what Jesus sees. As such, by proclaiming Himself the Bread of Life, He wants us to recognize how bread represents His all-satisfying and perpetually nourishing love for everyone.

 

Insignificance Kills

Those who don’t understand their significance are slowly dying. But where do we look for our significance? This yearning leaves us starved, and over time, dead. The enemy comes to kill and destroy, as it’s written in John 10:10. One of the devil’s strategies is to make us focus on ourselves and rely on our strength to find importance—self-focus and self-importance that ultimately leave us hungry for more.

 

Let’s consider for a moment the Israelites, who were oppressed and overlooked. They’re seeking not only freedom from tyranny, but they’re also seeking a place of restoration, a place of honor and importance before God. Jesus sparked hope in what He did and what He said during His time with the Israelites. In John 6:14, the people even exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

 

They were hungry physically because they’ve been following Him, listening to Him, and hoping to get close to Him. But we can see here that it’s more than just physical hunger. In John 6:26-27, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.

 

The True Bread of Life

Jesus says His bread is doing the work the Father sent Him to do. By using the metaphor of bread, He tells us that we should open our eyes to the way of the Kingdom of God because the Son of Man gives us this bread for our nourishment.

 

Jesus will never leave us hungry, and He will always satisfy us.

 

In John 6:28-29, as people gather and ask God how to be a part of the work of the Kingdom, Jesus replied, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” God the Father offers us the true bread from heaven, the One who gives life to the world. Jesus is basically saying, “I am the Bread. I give life so no one will be hungry again.” And reading how the crowd responded—“give us that bread every day.”—we can learn that this is what they are hungering for, the true bread of life.

 

All other sources of significance and power would only make us continue to look and seek. But Jesus provides us reasons to stop looking for by giving us a confirmation of our place in God. That’s why we no longer hunger for all other sources of significance.

 

What an amazing proclamation when He said in verse 35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

 

Jesus worked so hard during His time here on earth to ensure that not one person will be left on their own searching for significance. Jesus already secured our place of importance. That is the food that sustains us.

 
 

Give us this day our daily bread

We pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday in worship together, and perhaps you pray that prayer as a family or personally at other times in your week. You know it well, you have it memorized.  It is also good to be reminded and pause to reflect on what those words mean that you are praying. Lent is an important season for us to slow down and reflect on all Jesus did for us as he journeyed to the cross to be broken for us.  Take time out of your normal routine and make space to be with Jesus, the Bread of Life. 

 

            “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

In Luther’s small catechism he helps explain this part of the prayer. If you are anything like me, it may have been awhile since you read your catechism so I thought this review would be really helpful. 

 

What does this mean?

 

    God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

 

What is meant by daily bread?

 

    Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

 

Luther asks some more meaningful questions.  

 

Take away our “daily bread” - namely, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the homes that shelter us, the government that protects us - and we die.  Since these things are so important, why do we take them for granted and not express gratitude for them?  What habits and practices can help me to better recognize how God sustains my life each day?”

 

What do we mean by “daily bread’?

 

“Bread” is a biblical way of summarizing all that we need to sustain our lives on earth. 

 

Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”  

 

Why do we specify “daily” bread in this petition?

 

“Daily” highlights how every moment and every day of our lives depend upon God’s provision.  

 

For what, then, do we pray in this petition?

 

We pray that, in humility, 

we would look to God for what we need each day so that we do not worry about the future;

we would receive all our physical blessings with thanksgiving;

we would find contentment with what we have received.

(Luther’s Small Catechism  pages 258-261)

 

Jesus says, I am the Bread of Life.  He is the one who ultimately sustains us and gives us life. We are asking for Jesus to be our everything.  We need Him each and every day.  Like the song by Matt Maher says:      

Lord, I need you oh I need you.

    Every hour I need you, 

    Your my one defense

    My righteousness, 

    Oh, God how I need you. 

 

    Where sins runs deep,

    Your grace is more,

    Where grace is found,

    Is where you are.

    And where you are

    Lord I am free

    Holiness is Christ in me

 

    So teach my song to rise to you

    When temptation comes my way

    When I cannot stand I’ll fall on you

    Jesus your my hope and stay

 

    Lord, I need you Oh I need you

    Every hour I need you

    My one defense

    My righteousness

    Oh, God how I need you.


Holiness is Christ in me.  We take the bread that is given us and we eat it.  Jesus was broken for us, and he gives us his very body to take and eat.  He is our everything.  And our response is THANKSGIVING each and every day.  




 
 

ARE YOU HAVING A HARD TIME TRUSTING GOD?

We love being in control. We always look for that sense of security - be it in our finances, relationships, career, and even in our ministries. And one of our greatest fears is the fear of the unknown. We always want to be sure of what’s coming. 

 

To not know the future makes us vulnerable to fear, worry, panic, and anxiety, which later leads to a lot of other negative thoughts and actions such as grumbling, complaining, and even blaming God and other people, just like what happened to the Israelites in Exodus 16 after their deliverance from Egypt. Yet even during these times, God proves to us over and over again that He is the ever-faithful God whom we can completely depend on to provide everything that we need.  Still, why do we have a hard time trusting God? 

 

The Issue of Trust and Distrust 

When it comes to being trustworthy and dependable, we all fall short.  This is one of the reasons we can find it hard to trust God. We measure trust based on what we did or what others did to us.  We always remember those times that we didn’t live up to the things we said we would do -- all those memories of our broken promises, commitments, failures, and shortcomings. Likewise, we tend to remember every painful memory when others break our trust.  Because of the guilt, we find it hard to forgive ourselves and others; which in turn, affects our ability to trust.

 

But we have to see God differently. He is a God who will never break our trust. When the Israelites complained to Moses about not having food and water in the wilderness, ( not because God didn’t want to provide, but simply because they didn’t trust Him), God still provided for them by sending overflowing manna from heaven, quails, and even water from the rock ( not just once, but twice!). Exodus 16-17 

 

Here we see that God’s provisions were not conditional on whether the Israelites trusted Him or not. Despite the Israelites’ failure to trust Him, God still miraculously gave them all their needs to prove that He is a dependable and faithful provider. God is completely trustworthy. Therefore, we can trust Him. Even if we fail Him at times, He will never fail us. What He promised, He will do.

 

Learning to Trust God

To trust God is to acknowledge that He is the One who provides everything that we need. It is to acknowledge that God is the only “One” whom we can depend on. If we want to learn how to trust God completely, we must take Him at His Word (even if the Word doesn’t make any sense) and trust His every work (even if you can’t see how He’s working things out). 

 

God wants us to trust in Him completely for our daily bread and not just in our ability to store up His provisions. It’s worth noticing that God allowed them to be in the wilderness where everything was scarce. Why? So that the Israelites would see how powerful, faithful and trustworthy He is. God took away every possible source that the Israelites could rely on so that they will realize that God is the ONLY trustworthy source and that God is ALL that they ever need. (Deuteronomy 8:3, John 6:25-59)

 

God wants us to be reminded that we can’t do things on our own and that He is the provider of everything that we need. It’s time to do away with complaining, grumbling, and blaming others. It’s time to forgive ourselves from our past failure and it’s about time that we also forgive those who have broken our trust. We can’t do this in our own strength. We need God’s grace to be able to extend forgiveness and to be able to trust again. 

 

Do you have some pressing needs right now? Today, God is assuring you: You can depend on Him to provide for you and He will never break your trust.

 

Who Will Deliver Us From Terror?

The Great I Am, who is with us, is our deliverer. When we call upon our God, He works in ways we can’t even fathom. He works in ways that we may not even understand, but ways that are ultimately perfect according to His purpose and will alone. He sees our needs, He hears our cries, and He is always present to provide strength when we are weak and in distress. We need to remember that His desire is to save us. With His salvation comes redemption and deliverance.

 

What is Terror

We already know the wonderful truth that God, the Great I Am, is our deliverer. But, we also need to recognize what it is that God is delivering us from.

 

Terror comes from our sinful flesh. We may have heard about it before from our Sunday school classes or sermons from past years. But have we thought much about it lately? Have we even considered terror as a consequence of our own sins? 

 

Terror also comes when we stand in front of God. It can be overwhelming to think about the powerful nature of God in its entirety. It leaves us trembling. Another source of terror is when we wonder “Am I good enough?” When we choose our own ways, when we try to do everything for ourselves, or when we justify our place before God. 

 

Terror can cause us to be far from God. It is something that we need to defend ourselves against by fully relying on Christ. When we look at Acts 7, the Jewish leaders were terrified that their ways will be destroyed by God’s teaching through Stephen and the prophets before him. And so they tried to silence Stephen because they were filled with terror. We see that terror only has one option and it is to silence all the voices around it, including God.

 

Remain Calm and Trust Jesus

How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! Luke 1:47

 

Amidst all the harsh effects of terror, we can rest in the truth that there is a Savior who died on the cross to wash away the consequences of our sins. It is our Savior who will deliver us from our own terror.

 

Stephen is a classic example of a person who was fully embraced by God’s saving grace. Even as he was dying, being stoned to death, he remained calm and was full of the Lord’s Spirit. Because he knew that at this moment, the presence of Jesus is in him.

 

In Acts 6:15, we can even notice that everyone in the high council was looking at Stephen because his face became as bright as an angel’s. This is the calming effect of God’s saving grace in the midst of trembling situations. Do we still wonder how we get deliverance? Jesus our Savior. He is our deliverer. He has already rescued us.

 

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

 
 

To See Like Jesus

As we begin to dive into the metaphors that Jesus used to describe Himself with the “Bread of Life” metaphor in John 6, as bigger question emerges. Why does Jesus use metaphors anyway? Enjoy the answer from our friend and author of “Delight”, Justin Rossow.

Jesus sits on the edge of a literal well, and is literally tired and thirsty. The disciples have gone off to find  food; for them, Samaria is a land of unclean enemies where you can’t even get lunch without the fear of  contamination. But Jesus stays behind.

You know the story. Jesus asks for literal water from one of these contaminated enemies, and the talk  quickly turns metaphorical: “If you would have known, you would have asked me, and I would have given  you Living Water, and you would never thirst again.”

What follows is some verbal sparring where this Samaritan woman seems to give as well as she takes, but  is  perhaps confusing enough for her final comment to count as raising the white flag: “When Messiah comes, He will clear up all of this debate about God and worship, and who’s in and who’s out.” Then Jesus drops a final bombshell: “I who speak to you am He.”

The disciples make it back just in time to see the woman going off in amazement to fetch her friends. They offer Jesus some of their Kosher Take Out, but Jesus says he has “food” they know nothing about, which causes some concern, since they are deep in enemy territory, and one does not just eat from a street vendor when lunch can make you spiritually unclean. But Jesus wasn’t talking about food food: “My food is to do the delight of the one who sent me.”

While the disciples are still chewing on that statement, the unclean enemy outsider woman shows back up, with a crowd of her closest friends. (OK; wait. She didn’t have any friends, remember? She somehow went to people who looked down on her and shamed her and threatened her, and told them about Jesus.) Seeing the crowd, Jesus gives his disciples a new lens, a new frame, a new way of seeing and evaluating and experiencing the situation in front of them.

“Look!” Jesus says, “Lift up your eyes, and see! The Fields are ripe for Harvest!”

Where the disciples saw unclean enemy outsiders who threaten to contaminate them, Jesus sees sheaves ready and waiting to be brought in. And that’s how metaphor works. A metaphor gives you a structured understanding of a situation that allows you to make decisions, reason out options, know what you can expect and what is expected of you. Metaphors can be overt or hidden; poetic or rather plain. The disciples were living out one metaphor when they feared Jesus might have broken food laws by receiving something to eat from the hand of an unclean Samaritan. That metaphor of clean and unclean, in and out, friend and foe breaks the world down into Us vs Them, and keeps Us and Them as far apart as possible.

An In/Out metaphor is a powerful way of organizing your reality. But Jesus lives by a different metaphor. Jesus inhabits a world where you give a thirsty stranger a drink, no matter what. And if the thirst is more than physical, how much more important is it to pour out the Living Water you have welling up inside you! 

Jesus later says that thirsty people should come to him to drink, and the water he provides will turn into wells of living water that gush eternal life. That water is the Spirit (see John 7:3-39), and the Samaritan woman at the well becomes that kind of Spirit-well to the people in her own village as she, filled and led by the Spirit, brings the very people who ostracized her to meet Jesus.

It’s not the last time Jesus talks about food, either. Here, Jesus says his food (or bread—food/bread is the same word)—his bread is doing the work the Father sent him to do. In John 6, Jesus will call himself the food/bread from heaven that comes down, like Manna in the wilderness, to miraculously feed a pilgrim people on their way. 

Jesus isn’t just waxing poetic; he wants you to reframe, restructure, reimagine your relationship with him so that the daily, desperate dependence wandering Israel had in on this miraculous food from heaven that tasted like honey and looked like coriander would become your daily, desperate dependence on Jesus as you wander in your own wilderness and slowly make your way Home.

Jesus very clearly knows the metaphors you live by will shape how you see God, how you see yourself, and how you see others. I think that’s why Jesus emphasizes the new kind of eyes the Kingdom requires: “Look; lift up your eyes; and see.” See with new eyes. Trade out your old paradigm for a new one. Pick up this metaphor and see your world through a new lens: “The fields are ripe for harvest.”

We sometimes get the idea that metaphors are for lovers and poets. And they are. But more than that, metaphors shape your understanding of your experience and tell you how you are expected to think, and feel, and act in any situation. Are you surrounded by unclean outsider enemies? One kind of response is appropriate. Are you standing in front of a field ripe for harvest? Are you a well of living water, and the people around you are dying of thirst? Then a different kind of response is required.

The Bible’s metaphors can sometimes be confusing. They might make you want to throw up your hands, like the Samaritan woman, and say, “When Messiah comes, He will explain all this!” And she was right. When Messiah came, He did explain all this. And when Messiah chose to explain all this, He said things like: 

“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.”
“I am the true bread who has come down from heaven.”
“Come to me, you who thirst, and I will give you water and make you a well.”
“I am the Good Shepherd.”
“I am the light of the world.”
“I am the vine, you are the branches.”

“Look; lift up your eyes, and see!”

Justin Rossow is the founder of Next Step Press and The Next Step Community and author of the award-winning book, Delight! Discipleship as the Adventure of Loving and Being Loved.

For more on John 4 and the metaphors that shape our life and mission, see the article “Look, Lift Up Your Eyes, And See: Warfare, Containers, Harvest, Living Water, and the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws.”

You can find a more thorough discussion of how metaphor shapes your life and experience, and how to tap into the power of metaphor for ministry, check out the book Preaching Metaphor: How to Shape Sermons that Shape People by Justin Rossow.

“To See Like Jesus” was first published at https://community.findmynextstep.org/to-see-like-Jesus/. Used by permission.