The Bread of Life
I hope you enjoyed your Burns’ Night on Monday. When I was first exploring a call to full time vocational ministry I spent a year studying at Belfast Bible College. It was a great experience; to be part of a community of people from all over the world, yet wonderfully one in Christ. On Burns’ Night I remember trying (unsuccessfully) to convince a couple of American friends that ‘hunting your first haggis’ was a rite of passage in Scotland. Sadly, they were unconvinced. I then tried to assure them that haggis was delicious and worth trying. This met with a more positive response- until someone told them what haggis actually was!
Hunger is a universal experience and different nations have their own national dishes, ingredients and cooking methods to satisfy their hunger. One universal food though, the global staple, is bread.
We have other universal hungers. The deep longings for God, for meaning and for peace know no boundaries. And Jesus’ makes a staggering claim, having fed the five thousand he claims he came to do something even more remarkable:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”John 6:35
Have you a hunger that nothing and no-one else can satisfy? Jesus promises deep, real and lasting fulfilment to those who come to him. He rebukes the crowd for their unbelief (they have only returned to him for another free feed) and goes on..
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”John 6:37-40
The Christian life is not easy, Jesus makes that very clear. But there is, even in dark days, a deep satisfaction for the soul to be found in him. And, of course, the wonderful assurance that we will be raised up to eternal life.
How sad that so many came to Jesus for nothing more than bread and a miraculous spectacle when he had so much more to give. And how wonderful that Jesus’ offer goes not just to one particular people group- he is not the haggis only for the Scots, he is not only for the Jews, for one gender or race, or for those who lived a long time ago. His invitation to come to him and receive from him is for the whole world.
May we come to him in faith that we might know the abundant and eternal life that he came to give.
Yours in Christ Jesus