Summary: You can interpret this as a nationalist, a materialist or an eternalist Which one are you?
The theme of our ATN services has been Jesus famous “I am “ statements
And today’s I am statement of Jesus is:
“I am the Bread of Life.”
Bread in Jesus’ day was the staple diet of those on low income.
It was usually made into flat cakes of wheat flour or barley flour.
The grain was ground in a mill and the bread would be freshly baked.
It is made very simply. Let me show you.
TRICK for making bread
What do we need to make Bread?
A saucepan and ingredients
5. Sesame seeds
Heat - Light the ingredients with lighter fluid,
put the top over the pan and
out tumbles a loaf of bread!!!
I wonder what you think the people listening to Jesus might have thought when Jesus said: I am the Bread of Life
What responses would Jesus’ words have triggered
What do you think Jesus meant when he said: “I am the Bread of Life” ?
To answer that question I need to first put this passage in context.
There was significance in where he made this momentous statement and when it was said
1.1 Where was Jesus speaking - in Galilee
Jesus was speaking in Galilee, one of the trouble spots of the Roman Empire.
Feelings against the Roman rulers ran high in these northern hills of Galilee.
It was prime terrorist country – where bands of zealots planned their raids.
It was the “Helmand” province of Israel
1.2 When was Jesus speaking
John tells us in Jn 6:4 that this all happened at Passover time.
Earlier in the Chapter we read of Jesus feeding the five thousand from a little boy’s lunch box of five loaves and two little fishes.
And so - not unnaturally - that miracle had sparked interest of the zealots were looking for Jesus as a possible “political Saviour”
Perhaps the closest analogy to the nationalist feelings around Passover in first century Israel are the feelings of the Ulster Unionists in Northern Ireland today about the Battle of the Boyne (1st July 1690).
I used to live in Northern Ireland as a boy and my father took me to see Schomberg’s grave at the site of the Battle of the Boyne. The Duke of Schomberg was William III’s second in command who was killed in the Battle.
As the Battle of the Boyne rouses passions of the Orangemen of Ulster today, so Passover was a time of intense national fervour for the first century Jew.
1. The Hope of the Nationists
With that in mind, Jesus words “ I am the bread of life” – coupled with Jesus saying that he was the “true bread that from came down from heaven” would have triggered - for some - thoughts of Moses the freedom fighter.
Moses one of their great leaders had delivered them from slavery in Egyptian slavery and kept them alive with bread from heaven – manna as it was called
If Jesus was making such a claim surely Jesus could liberate them from the Romans.
Shades of first century liberation theology.
If you were going to start a revolution in Judea, the best place was Galilee and the best time was Passover.
For the zealots – I am the Bread of Life meant revolution.
But that isn’t what Jesus was talking about
2. The Hope of the Materialist
Many of the local people weren’t zealots keen to turn the Romans out by armed rebellion.
Many of them worked simply to put food on the table for their families
But Jesus wasn’t talking about materialism either - that is putting food on the table
We must not misunderstand Jesus either.
Jesus never said that issues of political freedom or economic justice weren’t important.
No one could accuse Jesus of being indifferent to the plight of the poor and the oppressed.
But Jesus was not and is not a political Messiah or simply an Economic guru.
Jesus rather challenges us to be less concerned about our physical bodies and more concerned with our eternal souls.
For the majority of our nation are only looking for material answers to human problems.
3. The Hope of the Eternalist
Perhaps the only one that day that really understood what Jesus meant when he said: I am the Bread of Life” was Jesus himself
3.1 Jesus Claims a Divine Origin 6:38
He said: "I came down from heaven." For the first century Jews it was as preposterous as if somebody told you they had arrived here today on a flying saucer.
In this Jesus was and remains unique.
In this regard there are no parallels with other religious leaders.
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis made this statement,