For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. – Mahatma Gandhi
We live in a hungry world.
Not just hungry for food, although many parts of this world are battling famine.
We live in a spiritually hungry world.
It’s not hard to see—it’s all around us. People turn to food, drugs, social media, movies, sports, all types of things to fill the hunger that ravages their souls and spirits.
As Christians, we know that nothing can fill that hunger like Jesus Christ. It is no accident that Jesus chooses to set off His seven “I AM” statements by addressing this hunger.
In John 6, we find Him performing one of the single most amazing miracles of His earthly ministry. Jesus fed 15,000 people (by some estimates) with five loaves and two fish. This was a good days work and it caught everyone’s attention. This was a Moses-like miracle. In fact, He was replicating the manna that fed Moses and Israel as they traveled in the wilderness.
After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” (John 6:1-25)
Once they had crossed the sea, He began to teach on the bread. He started by comparing manna to himself.
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33)
Three times He says He is the Bread of Life. Here He is telling them that they are wrong to confer on Moses the divine aptitude of provision when it was God that had brought the manna to the people. Moses led people to eat, but God fed them. Jesus had to de-emphasize Moses’ role because in Hebrew tradition Moses had an elevated perch. He then takes it a step further:
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
And Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:34-40)
If we step back, we can see that the people were excited about the miracle—He fed thousands with one lunch. They were excited about Christ and about what He did. But Jesus was using the dinner as a metaphor for a more powerful truth. Yes, physical hunger needs to be addressed. But the desire of the soul and the spirit is much more desperate and can only be answered by one thing: the Bread of Life.