Sourdough is one of my favourite types of bread especially when it is toasted, slathered with butter, and topped by a generous layer of Hagelslag (milk chocolate sprinkles). I have recently discovered that sourdough bread has a very short ingredient list. Basically, all you need is flour, water and if you like, a pinch of salt. Beyond these simple ingredients there comes a process to shape them into an edible loaf of bread.
In the context of scripture what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear or think about the word “bread”? Do you think about the provision of mana God sent from heaven to feed his people? (Ex.16). Maybe your thoughts go to the account of the last supper where Jesus broke bread with his disciples (Luke 22). Maybe like me, you think about the five small barley loaves that fed 5000 people in John Chapter 6.
John chapter 6:35 is where Jesus declares “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” After Jesus meets the physical needs (hunger) of the people through this incredible display of his power, he draws them into a spiritual conversation using the words, “I am the bread of life”.
The group of people Jesus is talking to in this verse seem to be missing the message intended for them, so he breaks it down into relatable terms that they can understand (using a metaphor). He is referring to himself in this verse both as “I am”, the God of their forefathers, and the “bread”, the source of life; the promised one sent by God as their Saviour and Messiah. The words that follow are two “simple ingredients” that speak to their spiritual needs, to their life in him.
The first ingredient, “come to me” is an obvious, point-blank call to faith given to the people. Jesus, the Messiah was right there in front of them and just having performed an incredible miracle they did not believe in him. “You have seen me and still you do not believe” (John 6:36). Second, “whoever believes in me” is another call to action (ingredient) much like the first. There is a decision or choice to be made.
One commentary on this verse summed it up beautifully, “Christ shows that he is the true Bread; he is to the soul what bread is to the body, nourishes and supports the spiritual life. He is the Bread of God. Bread which the Father gives, which he has made to be the food of our souls.”
The bread metaphor used in this verse was rich with meaning in its original context because it was a staple of life. Today, especially in western culture this may not be the case. But the message is still the same. Jesus is still the source of life, both spiritually and physically. The call still stands, “come to me… believe in me”. Have you answered this call, is Jesus the bread of your life?