In Jesus’ ministry, he makes a lot of claims of who he is. These claims such as; I am the door (John 10:7), I am the true vine (John 15:1), etc., show the character of, not only, Jesus, but of God. Reading them at a first glance doesn’t always make sense, but that is where we have to read Jesus like poetry. This makes sense as he spoke in parables when he spoke to those around him. I was recently reading one of these, that you can find in John 6. I’m sure many of you have heard the story of Jesus’ miracle where he feeds 5,000 people. I’ll go into that a bit but will focus on his claim that he is the “Bread of Life”.
We all want to see a magic trick.
There was a large group of people from the neighboring towns that followed Jesus everywhere he went. They wanted to see what he would do next. I don’t believe they really understood what they were getting themselves into. I’m sure many of these people didn’t know or understand the Great Commision they are called to pursue as it’s stated in Matthew. They just wanted to see the next big thing. In a similar manner, I, as well, want to see something magical and jaw-dropping. I want to see God move like a magician on live television. I’m attracted to magicians like David Blaine (this guy is insane!) because I want to be amazed. I want to see something “unexplainable” like Jesus’ miracles. Except, in the case of the 5,000 people that followed Jesus, they would soon find out that they’ll be victims of his next trick.
We all know the story some way or another; Jesus uses a little boy’s lunch to feed everyone. That’s 5,000 people that ate out of an abundance, leaving 12 baskets of food left over. Now, because of this miracle, many said, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world (v 14).” Everyone soon leaves and the disciples cross the nearby body of water. The next interaction with this crowd occurs in this chapter after they find Jesus on the other side of the water.
Paraphrasing, Jesus tells them, “You’re not coming here for me. You are here for bread, which is not what you really want.” He gives them a speech similar to the one he gave to the woman at the well. He is the bread of life that will be eternally fulfilling compared to the bread that was given the previous day. As I said, these people only want to see another magic trick. They say that if Jesus is speaking the truth, he should show them through a miraculous sign. Apparently, turning a kid’s lunch into food that fed 5,000 wasn’t enough.
Ingredients for Bread of Life: Trust
“…what will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’ (v. 30 – 31).” Jesus reminds them who gave them the mana on their forty year journey. It was not from Moses but from God. God is the one who created it and provided with it. All God asked from them was to trust that there would be manna to gather every single morning.
“Look, I am the Bread of Life, which means that I provide.” He basically clarifies that being the bread of life does not allude to the same provision as giving mana continuously to the Israelites. What Jesus is saying is “I AM what you need.” He’ll give them provision, not through materials or food, but through himself. In order to have this Bread of Life, you will need the hardest ingredient to gather: Trust.
You can continue reading the chapter to see that these people simply don’t get it (facepalm). They don’t understand what it is like to rely on this man who claims to be the Messiah. You can tell that they didn’t really understand the deeper meaning behind the scripture they used as a comparison for what Jesus was doing (v 31).
Since I am talking about trust, here is a small plug-in to my last post where I wrote about earning trust from a leader’s perspective. Trust is such a large concept that a book wouldn’t be able to completely cover the topic.
If trust is not involved in the God you follow, you clearly want to only seek a God of giving. A god that will always have a platter for you to take from when you want something.
God wants you and I to realize that he wants to provide us blessings like he did with the Israelites when he gave them manna, through trust. As Jesus said, we need to keep in mind where this provision comes from. Moses was just the medium between God and the Israelites. God will use us, as His tools, to make sure those who follow him are blessed.
Seek God for who He IS.
It’s easy for us to seek God based on personal need rather than human need. Jesus saw this in these followers that he fed. He responded to their requests by saying, “…you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
“You get your needs met by seeking the Lord. Don’t seek Him to get your needs or as a means to an end.” – Skip Heitzig
I want to remind, both, you and myself that we will not and cannot earn God’s blessing. Don’t fall into a works-based mentality. Even if you don’t agree with a works-based faith, it will creep into your theology if you don’t solely seek Jesus to seek Jesus. I know this from experience.
If we don’t remember the purpose and meaning of following Jesus, we begin to create our own version of seeking him. We become the multitude that followed Jesus and see when the next big thing will occur. Some side-effects of this mentality are that our prayers become self-centered. We translate the book of life to say that we follow God according to our terms. Our beliefs can fall into a false theology where we tell Jesus, “I am lord and you are my servant.” We lose sight of Him as the Bread of Life.
This idea reminds me of a scene in the movie, Citizen Kane (1941), where the main character, Charles Foster Kane, loses the election to become governor of New York after his opponent and wife, both, discover he is having an affair (not the cause, but a factor). Kane is having a conversation with his close friend, Jedediah Leland, over why Kane believes he was outvoted. Leland tells him, “You don’t care about anything, except you. You just want to persuade people that you love em’ so much that they oughta love you back… Only you want love on your own terms. Something to be played your way according to your rules.”
Dang… Don’t you think it’s easy to fall trap to see the bread of life in God’s blessings other than His Son? I would hate to think that I loved God simply so He could love me back in a greater manner. We can think that we are doing things the right way until someone points out a flaw. Don’t think of God as simply a giver. God is not the God that gives… at least not what we want. As the Bread of Life, Jesus wants us to realize that his gift is far greater than we can ever imagine.
I have a friend and mentor, Taylor Cruz, who gave a message on this topic and he said something very profound, “If you give the right things the wrong priorities, it makes them the wrong thing in the wrong place. Jesus saw that they placed him in the wrong place, which meant that this wasn’t what they sought.” According to what the group of people said they needed, Jesus wasn’t the right person to fulfill them. He wasn’t the Bread they wanted, so they complained. God was not the bread the Israelites wanted, so they complained. You and I need to consider what we ask from God because there may be that one thing we want that He knows we don’t need or He can’t provide. What is your motivation to seek God? Is it because of what God gives you? Let me know below.
Make sure you follow me on social media to see all the random things I do in life!