Summary: EOLS: Jesus offers His body as bread for spiritual hunger; the source and sustenance of our spiritual being.
I AM the Bread of Life
(first in the Easter Series I AM, and a pre-Communion Sermon delivered on April 3, 2011).
EOLS: Jesus offers His body as bread for spiritual hunger; the source and sustenance of our spiritual being.
Preliminary thought/context-this is first in the I AM series. The Apostle John uses several metaphors which link Jesus Christ as the I AM to the Old Testament, showing his Deity and equality with God. Today we examine I AM The Bread of Life.
Have you ever been hungry? I mean really hungry. Go with me in your mind’s eye back to a time recent or past when you felt like you could “eat a horse.” Perhaps you were on a restrictive diet, or maybe you just hadn’t had an opportunity to eat for some number hours. Some of you may have practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting, and have voluntarily gone without food for a time.
Different people seem to have differing tolerances for hunger. I know people who if they go three hours without food they are on the very edge of sanity and looking to hurt someone! Other people can go much longer periods of time without any apparent discomfort. I would guess I fall somewhere in the middle of that range.
Let me ask-do you ever remember a meal that stands out in your mind, maybe from years past , that was prepared for you and you came to the table ravenously hungry? Is there one meal that comes to mind?
Bottom line, I’m not sure any of us have ever experienced real hunger in the truest sense, that is to say hunger from lack of resources. Now granted we may not have always had steak and fresh vegetables to our heart’s delight, but I would venture a guess that none of us have ever gone truly hungry for lack of resources. I’ve seen the day when my pockets were mighty lean and payday was a couple of weeks away. You just shift your expectations!
One thing you can always count on, is bread. It’s a staple food that provides a certain amount of nutrition for our bodies, it is very filling and a ready remedy for hunger. It’s almost always affordable and in abundant supply, and most people have it as a big part of their daily diet. My family were the type folks who believe bread should be served with every meal. My mom would almost always make biscuits or cornbread (and often both), but if she ran out of time she’d put the loaf bread on the table and we’d eat that with out meals!
One way to tell a good barbecue place is when you walk in and see the loaf bread on the table. Nothing soaks up the barbecue juice like a good old lily white piece of Sunbeam loaf bread!
From the basic loaf of bread at the grocery store to cat head biscuits and buttery cornbread, to gourmet dinner rolls made for elegant feasts, bread is a cornerstone, a staple. It’s something that is not just delicious, it sustains. It can fill out a sparse meal and make you full, it can serve as a stand-alone meal.
In Biblical days, bread was a very important part of the diet. We have to remember that we live in a generation that is truly wealthy with food and resources. In Biblical days, and really for most of mankind’s history, food was hit or miss. Most of the day was spent not on personally entertaining or intellectually fulfilling activities, but on pure survival! Each day was a struggle. Most anyone who heard Jesus speak truly knew what hunger was about. Most assuredly his own disciples, common fishermen who pulled a living out of a large lake, knew hunger in a most intimate way.
In John 6, the discussion centers around bread. Jesus has performed the very well known miracle of feeding a crowd of five thousand, using the offering of a young boy: five loaves of bread and two fishes. Every person in the crowd has been filled to satisfaction, and twelve baskets of left-overs have been gathered up. In verse 15, Jesus literally had to run from the crowd because they were coming for him to make him a king by force! The people had never seen anyone who could literally make bread from nothing. This man was a true bread machine! If he were in charge, all the problems of hunger would be over with!
So Jesus slipped away by himself. The Disciples gathered their things and launched the boat without him. It seems that Jesus would often retreat to spend some time alone and this didn’t seem to surprise them. They knew they’d hook up with him again soon. But that night, another very well known miracle occurred: Jesus came walking to them on the water, in the middle of a storm.