By Bruce James
The Bread of Life is one of the simplest titles of Jesus. He had finished His ministry in Galilee by feeding five thousand miraculously on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. He then returned to Capernaum, and there he met the Jewish leaders (John 6:1-14, 24). The feeding of the five thousand was sure to bring memories of the manna in the wilderness (John 6:31). It was Jesus that said it was not Moses, but God who had given the manna to the people (6:32). He went on to say that the true bread, that which sustains life and overcomes death, must come from God. Then He says: “I am the bread of life . . . . I am the living bread which came down from heaven (6:35, 48, 51). This was a saying that the Jews resented bitterly; they thought they knew who Jesus was, being familiar with His family and His own person; therefore, He should not say that He came down from heaven (6:42). Jesus went farther when He identified this Bread of Life with His own body and blood which men must eat in order to enter into life which in this world is life indeed, and which death cannot touch (6:52-58).
To the Jew (and to you and me) bread is the staff of life. The gift of manna in the wilderness was designed to lead the world to the greatest gift of God – Jesus Christ the Bread of Life – to a world lost and dying in sin. Let us learn the likeness between the “manna” and Jesus “the bread of life.” The Israelites were in the wilderness in need of food. God, in His great compassion for them, sent food from heaven. Christ as the bread of life is the free gift of God sent from heaven to fulfill our spiritual hunger and needs.
We can see a figure of Christ in the manna itself. It was sweet, like wafers of honey. In form it was round, and in color white. In the very nature and work of Jesus, He is precious and sweet to the faithful child of God. In the roundness and color of the manna, we see the completeness of Christ as well as the holiness and the righteousness of His person.
Notice also that the manna in the wilderness was given freely every morning. Today, Jesus is the daily bread of the soul. The manna was to be gathered every day (and early) except the seventh for that was the Sabbath. Manna fell in double quantities on the sixth day to supply their need on the seventh. Jesus is to be first in our lives and, as all the manna was to be eaten, Jesus must be received wholly and completely – as God and man, as prophet, priest and king. Also, do you remember what happened to the manna if it was laid up and not used? It ruined and was consumed by worms. So it is when Christ is preached and not received that death will be brought to that soul.
The true Bread of Life is Jesus. His death and resurrection is the food for our spiritual life. The Jews thought Jesus spoke of His literal flesh, as many do today, but Jesus interpreted the whole lesson by saying: “The words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). The true Bread of Life gives-.life to the souls of men by our eating this bread inn trust and obedience. By the way, there are many “runt”Christians who are stunted because they have stopped eating. There are thousands of babes in Christ who are dying of spiritual malnutrition. And there are thousands more dying because they have been feeding on cake and poisoned bread. A man who poisons someone is a criminal and that is the crime, spiritually speaking, of false preachers and teachers. Like the Pharisees, they compass sea and land to make one proselyte but then they made him twofold more a son of hell by their false doctrines.
The whole matter of eternal life is in feeding on the Bread of Life. This is done by “abiding in Him” continually. We must not feed on the poisoned bread of the sectarian world. Their message must be tested, examined, and analyzed in light of the Divine Standard of God’s word. Let us also remember that food will do no good unless assimilated or digested. We may come to church for 25 to 30 years with perfect attendance, but unless the gospel gets into our spiritual bloodstream we will die of ritualism, hypocrisy and error. Jesus’ claim is that He is able to give life in this world and in the world to come. Therefore let us say together: “Break Thou the Bread of Life, Dear Lord, to me . . . . Give me to eat and live With Thee above; Teach me to love Thy truth, For Thou art love.”
Truth Magazine XXIII: 40, p. 647
October 11, 1979