Summary: The Gospel -- the good news of salvation in Chrirst -- is nourishment for the soul.
When we go to a restaurant we usually decide first what kind of meat we want and then build our meal around the meat dish. To our western culture meat is the main factor in a meal.
In Jesus’ day however, meat was simply a side dish, but bread represented the major part of the meal, everything was built around it. We would think it strange to be served a meal that consisted of only a starch and vegetable, but in Christ’s day it would have been an insult to serve a meal and not include bread as the main ingredient.
This sets the stage for the importance of Jesus’ words, “I am the Bread of Life.” What Jesus is saying is that he is the most important part of life! He is the "main" dish that everything else should revolve around. He is the most important part of our sustenance. It is for this reason that JESUS OFFERS BREAD FROM HEAVEN. He gives us 1) More Than Just A Taste. And this sustenance sticks with you. This bread is 2) Ours to Take Home.
1) More than just a Taste
Bread in Jesus’ day was the very symbol of “Life.” Hence it was often used to symbolize spiritual blessings. In the Old Testament bread was placed every day in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and temple as a symbol of God’s provision for his people. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the only source of real life, there can be no spiritual life without him in the same way there can be no physical life without natural bread.
The problem Jesus faced was that people were shortsighted. Jesus had just left this same crowd after feeding them miraculously with bread and fish. They had followed him to the other side of the lake after he had fed over 5,000 people. These people weren’t following Jesus because of his teaching as much as they were the hope of an easier lifestyle. Jesus had given them a starting point with this first flow of bread and fish, and perhaps they followed him to the other side of the lake to see now if it would continue.
It was Jewish popular belief that when the Messiah came, he would once again start the flow of Manna from heaven like Moses had done for Israel. They were looking for someone would provide physical bread for Israel again like in the desert. Essentially they were asking here for Jesus to prove He is the promised Messiah by starting up the MANNA again and meeting their physical needs in a greater way than Moses had done for Israel in the past.
Moses provided bread for 3½ million Jews, Jesus had only fed 5,000 men plus women and children. Moses provided bread for 40 years; Jesus had only given them bread once. Moses had given them bread from heaven. Jesus had used only earthly bread and multiplied it.
The trouble was, they were focused on physical bread, a return to what they thought of as an easier lifestyle where God simply took care of their physical needs. They were only looking to satisfy their immediate physical needs, they couldn’t even see how empty their souls were! It is tragic when people spend their lives just getting the stuff of this world and don’t think about satisfying their spiritual needs. Too many people just keep taking in the stuff of this world and don’t realize how empty it will prove in the end. Severed from our soul, the things of this world will never fulfill us!
Author George Orwell once described the human nature in this way. He wrote of a wasp that was sucking a spot of jam on his plate, when he took a butter knife and cut the insect in half. The wasp paid no attention, though. He merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed esophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he realize what had happened to him.
Many people have a lot in common with that wasp. It seems the majority of people in life could care less about spiritual things. They refuse to take such things seriously. It is not a popular notion to believe in the Bible. Too many people are too focused on greed and are unaware of it, so they selfishly continue to consume life’s sweetness. Only when it’s time to fly away will they grasp their condition.
When we think of our relationship with God in terms of material things we will find it very unsatisfying in the long run. Even Christians fall into this way of thinking. Many churches fall into this trap. You may have heard someone try to tell you that if you really believe in Jesus, then your life will be blessed with prosperity and wealth.