Dear radio friends,
Who is Jesus? Why is He so precious to believers? What is to be found in Jesus? What is it to be united in Him so that when you are united to Him you find Him wonderfully satisfying?
Jesus Christ Himself furnishes the answers to these questions in the Gospel According to John. Seven times in that Gospel Jesus identifies Himself and what He is to believers. He does so in the words, “I am.” They are referred to as the “I Am’s of Jesus.” I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the door of the sheepfold. I am the good Shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the true vine.
We would like to begin a series of messages on the I Am’s of Jesus. We begin today with the one that is recorded for us in John 6:35 where Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
Jesus had just performed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 plus women and children. When He did that, the people were filled with Messianic hope. “This is the one who will help us. This is the one who will restore Israel to all of its prominence among the nations. Imagine what this one is able to do for us.”
The Lord, knowing then that they wanted to make Him an earthly king, immediately sent the crowd away that day, sent His disciples across the Sea of Galilee in a boat, and He Himself departed quickly up into a mountain to pray.
It was the next day, as He was upon the streets of Capernaum, that the people who had eaten of the multiplied loaves and fish find Him. And they begin to press Him with more questions. They are curious as to how He was able to return to Capernaum without their seeing Him.
But the Lord admonishes them. He says to them, “You’re seeking Me for the wrong reasons. You’re seeking Me for earthly reasons, for material things. You think that I am an outlet, one who is able to give to you all that you would want in terms of the earthly, in terms of food or wealth or prominence or power—the earthly things.” He says to them, “You must not seek Me for those reasons.”
In verses 26 and 27 we read, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles [that is, truly saw and understood the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000], but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
Literally, Jesus says, “You are seeking Me because you were filled (the word filled is the “feeding of cattle,” in other words, you are coming after Me for the same reason cattle come to the farmer. They come because their bellies are hungry). That is why you are coming to Me. You must not do that. You must come seeking the right food. You must know your true need. You must not seek the bread that molds and grows stale and fills your earthly belly. But you must seek an eternal food, food for your soul. You must seek Me because I am the Bread that comes down from heaven.”
Jesus wanted them, and wants us, to be thinking of manna—the bread that God gave to Israel from heaven in the Old Testament. The Jews brought that up when He identified Himself as the One who was able to feed them. They said to Him, “Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” But Jesus, when they said that to Him, corrected them. They had made two mistakes about manna. He says to them in verse 32: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.” First, you looked at Moses, and you thought that Moses gave that bread to you. You forgot about God. You look at the instrument, Moses, who was used to provide the bread for you. You make that mistake. God was the One who supplied the bread. Second, you are still desiring an earthly or physical bread, rather than a spiritual bread. The bread that God gave, the manna, was true bread. That is, it was a picture of the One whom God would send down from heaven in order to give life, spiritual life, food for the soul. I am that Bread of Life. I am the true bread.
Yes, said Jesus, just like bread that fills the earthly need, so I am the Bread, but I fill not simply an earthly need, I fill an eternal need. I am come down from heaven. God has sent Me. He has sent Me as Savior, as the only who can fill your soul with what you need to satisfy you to life eternal. I am the bread of life. All earthly bread is but a picture of Me. I am the One, the only One, who is able to satisfy the hunger of the soul.
When He says that He is the Bread of Life, Jesus is saying three things about Himself. He is saying, (1) He is absolutely necessary for salvation. Bread in the Bible represents necessity. Bread in the Bible represents what is essential. Apart from bread, apart from food, we die. So we are taught to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Ask God for your necessities of life. Jesus says, “I am absolutely necessary for your soul. You cannot live with God, you cannot have peace, you cannot have satisfaction in your soul, you cannot be saved apart from Me. I am the Bread of life.” You may want many things: health, a worry-free life, your bills paid, perhaps you want a wife or a husband. But you must have Jesus or you die. He is necessary.
(2) When He says He is the Bread of life, He is saying that He is a daily food. There are some foods that you eat on certain occasions: turkey on Thanksgiving, or whatever customs you have. But bread is a daily necessity. Without daily food we grow weak and anemic and faint and starve. That is what Jesus is. You need Him, not once in a while, not occasionally, not quarterly, not six times a year, but every day. Without Him you are weak and faint.
(3) When He says, “I am the Bread of life,” He proclaims that He alone can satisfy. For bread satisfies hunger. There are other foods that we might eat that do not satisfy the hunger—the candy, the cake, and the chocolate. Jesus says, “I am that which satisfies. I am that which fills your every need, all your want relieving. Jesus, as the Bread of life, is absolutely necessary. We must know Him and have Him every day and moment. And He alone can satisfy.
But how could Jesus say that? How could He say, “I am the necessity. You must know Me and have Me each day of your life. And I alone can satisfy the deepest needs of your soul.” How could He say that?
First of all, let us remember that He is God. Maybe you thought of that already in the “I am” statements of the Lord. When He says, “I am the Bread of life,” the words “I am” already identify Him as Jehovah. For one of the names of God is: “I AM THAT I AM.” Jesus is the very Son of God, God of God, eternal God. Therefore, He alone can save. He must be our portion every day, and He alone can satisfy our souls.
But secondly, Jesus is God in the flesh. He says in verse 33 of John 6 that He is the Bread of God that cometh down from heaven and giveth His life for the world. Jesus is the true Bread because, as the Son of God, He came forth from the virgin’s womb to represent us and to give Himself for us. Therefore Jesus is able to say, “I am the Bread of life. I am the only One who can satisfy your deepest need. I am the only One whom you must have.” And that is because Jesus Christ is our atonement for sin, the only atonement for sin. He sacrificed Himself for His children upon the cross.
As the Bread of life, He must be prepared. Christ is prepared for the feast of our souls. He becomes the feast of our souls by giving Himself up in His own body upon the cross of Calvary for our sins. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. And the bread that I give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. I give Myself as a sacrifice, an offering to God. And all who are covered by that sacrifice shall live in Me. I am the Bread of life because I am the One who brings the sacrifice for the sins of My children. Therefore, possessing Me, they have what they need—the satisfaction of their souls, the forgiveness of their sins, eternal life in Me.”
You must eat Him. You must partake of Him. You must eat the Bread of life.
As in the physical realm it is not by looking at bread, but it is by eating the bread, that you are satisfied—so also today, by faith, God’s wonderful gift, we must believe on Him. We must partake of Him.
Today there are many who want to look at Jesus. There are many who want to debate and discuss about Jesus. There are many, even in the church, who defend the truth but who never rely upon Him personally, through faith. There are many who wish to analyze Him at a safe distance. There are others who want to avoid Him, perhaps, because of the conviction of their sin. There are some who would like to admire Him from a distance. But Jesus says, “No, you must be united to Me. You must eat Me.”
What does it mean, that we must partake of Jesus? Jesus said, “I am the Bread of life. He that cometh to Me shall never hunger and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” He said, “You partake of Me by coming to Me in faith. You must come and believe in Me.”
But how do we do that?
First of all, we do that, Jesus made very plain, as the work of God (v. 29). “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Believing on Jesus is a work of God performed in you. It is not your work. It is God’s work, worked in you. It is a work in which God gives us to know, by the Holy Spirit, a spiritual hunger. It is a work in which we recognize that we are empty, that we are guilty, that because of our sins we should perish eternally before a just God. But it is also a work of God whereby we know that in Him, and in Him alone—through His cross—we are forgiven. We are reconciled to God through His cross. We are made holy and righteous and pardoned.
Through the gift of faith we come to Jesus Christ and we partake of Him. And through faith we find in Jesus Christ perfect satisfaction, the food for our souls. We come to Him whom we need. We come to Him in the Word as He proclaims Himself in His Word. We come to Him through a true and living faith. We confess, “Lord, I’m empty, I’m perishing, I am a sinner. I would die of myself. There is nothing I can do to save myself. There is nothing in the world that can feed my soul. There is nothing that can take away that gnawing ache of my sins. I need Thee. I need Thee every day. I need Thee desperately. I need Thee as the Bread of life.”
Now, if you said in response to that, “But I can’t. I can’t come to Him. I can’t believe in Him of myself,” you would be right. You would be correct. If you did not bring that up, I would bring that up to you right now. You and I cannot come to Jesus Christ of ourselves. You and I will not come to Jesus Christ of ourselves. You and I will never, of ourselves, say, “Christ, you are the satisfaction of my soul. You are the fullness. You are everything to me. You are all that I need.” We will not say that.
We are the same as the people of Capernaum that day of whom we read in verse 66 of John 6 : “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
Well, is it hopeless, then? No! Listen. Jesus says in verse 44 of John 6 , “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” We do come. We do believe. We do hunger after Jesus Christ. We are satisfied in Christ. We do receive Him and partake of Him and He becomes the substance of our entire souls. And our joy! We do. Because of the Father. The Father, said Jesus, will draw irresistibly, by His power, love, and grace, all those whom He hath given Me in His will of eternal election. For salvation is entirely of God the Father. Through the Father, by His mighty grace, we are brought to Christ.
You ask, “Is that me? Am I one who was brought to Christ to believe in Him? Was this work of God wrought in me?”
Do you feel this hunger? Do you know this spiritual emptiness? Do you confess, “I am a sinner and there is nothing that can take away the ache, the hunger, the inadequacy that I have as a sinner. Nothing in all the world. There is nothing that I can do. Christ alone is the Bread of life. Without Him I die. In Him I live.”
Do you say that? I did not ask, do you say that as strongly as you ought to? I did not ask, do you feel that as strongly as you should? But, do you know that? Do you know that of yourself you are a poverty-stricken, empty, dead sinner and that Jesus alone can satisfy all the wants of your heart and all the needs of your soul?
That is the work of God’s grace. You are His. Believe in Him. Come to Him. Find in Christ the satisfaction of your heart and soul. You will never hunger. You will never thirst again. He can satisfy.
And He does satisfy. We experience that, too. Physically, when a person is starving, and he is given bread, he experiences, he knows, that the bread has satisfied him. So also we know that Christ satisfies us. He fills us with the assurance of the pardon of sin. He gives us to taste the richest foods of righteousness and perfect satisfaction for our sins. He reveals to us the eternal love and compassion of God. He is the One who feeds our soul to life eternal.
Yes, we will die physically unless the Lord Jesus returns first. But physical death will not destroy us. Physical death now has become a servant to set us free from our sinful nature and to bring us into the presence of our King and Lord in all of His glory. Then we shall have infinite and perfect fullness. All our needs will be met perfectly in Jesus Christ. We will never know another ache. We will never hunger in our souls. But also now, in the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ, we enjoy Christ every day. And in Jesus Christ our needs are met and satisfied. We are filled with the Bread of life.
Hear Him. “I am the Bread of life. He that cometh to Me shall never hunger. And he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”
Let us pray.
Father, seal the Word of God to our hearts today. And bless that Word to our hearts and give us great joy and thankfulness to Thee for Thou hast given Jesus—the Bread of life. In His name we pray, Amen.