I Am the Bread of Life

One of the first “I am” statements that Jesus makes in John’s Gospel is “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) Further in that same conversation, Jesus clarifies, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:41, 51)

What does Jesus mean? Right after the Israelites are rescued from slavery in Egypt and wander in the desert, God provides miraculous bread from heaven called manna (Exodus 16). It was a clear message that God alone sustained the Israelites.

Fast forward many centuries and Jesus refers to Himself as the living bread from heaven. He means that manna was a symbol that ultimately pointed to Him. He came down from heaven to sacrifice Himself for us so that we can be sustained as pilgrims who wander through the deserts of life. Yet, what does it mean to be sustained by Christ? Later in John 6, Jesus says that this bread is His flesh that gives us eternal life.

His words sound so scandalous that many desert Him, except for Peter and the disciples, who say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter means that when we are in Christ’s presence, we experience Him as the bread that nourishes our souls. Yet, how often do we hunger for bread elsewhere?

Perhaps it is the bread of relationships, careerism, financial security, pleasure or entertainment, but these things cannot fully satisfy our souls. Christ’s presence is not found in them but rather in His body and in the fellowship of believers — the Church. It is there that those who seek to enjoy Him in word and sacrament find the Living Bread that sustains us.

This week I encourage you to set aside the Earthly bread that cannot satisfy you and, instead, experience the Heavenly bread of Christ’s presence, perhaps in a Bible study, prayer, or worship on a Sunday morning, so that your soul can be nourished.
The Rev. John D. Sundara
Vicar for Worship and Evangelism
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