Bread For the Famished Soul (John 6:35)
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” —John 6:35
A multitude of 5,000 people follow Jesus to a mountain by the Sea of Tiberias “because they saw the signs he was doing on the sick” (John 6:2). There they witness another sign when they are miraculously fed from five barley loaves and two fish. Their hunger is satisfied, and after eating “as much as they wanted” they express that Jesus is “indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” (vv. 11, 14).
The next day, the same people get in boats and follow Jesus to the other side of the sea. But Jesus speaks plainly of their motives in seeking him—not because of the signs that point to Him as the Messiah, but because they desire their “fill of the loaves” (v. 26).
The people recall the manna eaten by the Israelites during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Perhaps they think the same type of daily sustenance is coming to them. Jesus explains, “…it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father,” and the “bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (vv. 32-33). The people want “this bread always,” but there is a disconnect between their longing and true need (v. 34). Undoubtedly Jesus cares about their physical nourishment, and yet the display of His power is meant to point to His ability to meet a far superior need—the life-giving and soul-satisfying nourishment that is offered through coming to Him and believing in Him as the Son of God.
I Am the Bread of Life
John 6:35 is the first of seven “I am” statements made by Jesus that are recorded in the Gospel of John. The metaphor is not only an expression of deity, but a theological explanation of God’s plan of salvation. Later in John 6, Jesus states more clearly, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” and “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (v. 51).
Not long after this encounter, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection would provide a solution to the malnourishment that comes from the utter depravity of sin. This is a striking claim: Trust not in the manna, barley loaves, or fishes. Look to Jesus not merely for what He gives, but who He is. He is the Bread of Life.
Come and Believe
The human heart naturally craves idolatrous food, and Jesus responds to the grumbling, disbelieving crowd with a blunt statement: “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (v. 44). While a sobering reality, implicit in this passage is also a comforting reminder of God’s sovereignty over our coming and believing. By His Spirit we are drawn into saving faith in Christ. God invites us to the feast, sets the table, provides more than our fill, and leads us to new appetites and cravings.
Never Hunger Nor Thirst
The outcome of our feasting is certain—the promise of “eternal life” and the confidence that we “will live forever” (vv. 40, 51). Christ will never “cast out” nor “lose” those who come to Him (vv. 37, 39). We will experience physical hunger and thirst, but Jesus is more than enough to satisfy even the most famished soul. Let us daily feast on the Living Bread and joyfully await His promise to raise us on the last day (v. 40).
Do you seek Jesus simply for physical bread or worship Him as The Bread of Life?
Are you trying to satisfy the cravings of your soul with anything other than Christ?
Does the promise of eternity give you hope to pursue Jesus as the object of your ultimate joy and satisfaction?