When preparing for a recent hurricane, I tried to stock up on food and water. The stores were nearly empty, but I found one loaf of bread pushed deep in the shelf. It was some thick white stuff that I’d never bought before, but bread was bread. I needed sustenance. Anything would do in the face of having nothing.
The same way my body needs physical bread to survive, my spirit needs spiritual bread to thrive. However, I can’t go to my local grocery store and buy bread that provides eternal life. Even a fortified bread will not extend my life span. To find spiritual nourishment, I have to go to the source of spiritual life.
In John 6, Jesus is talking to the people after having performed the miracle of feeding five thousand men (plus women and children) with just five loaves and two fish the day before. People are always looking for a free lunch. So, they returned demanding more.
The multitude crowded Jesus trying to justify their request by stating Moses had given the Israelites manna in the desert. Jesus reminded them that God had provided manna, not Moses. Yet, for all their munching on manna, the people still died. Physical food can only sustain our bodies for so long.
Because bread wasn’t lasting, Jesus didn’t give them food. He offered something better for them to feast on.
In John 6:51 Jesus says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (NKJV).
Take a minute for that to soak in.
Now, I seem to get hungry more often the next person. Sometimes, I have even threatened to chew off my arm if I don’t get a meal fast enough. However, I have never eaten myself. Ever. I’m just not that hungry.
The people of Jesus’ day freaked out too. Some thought Jesus was telling them literally to eat His body and drink His blood. Several of His followers abandoned Him because they weren’t about to hang with a cannibal.
What the people didn’t realize was that the coming sacrifice of Jesus’s body—His flesh and blood—would produce spiritual food that gave life. Not just life on earth, but life forever. Jesus is the bread of eternal life. When our spirits were separate from the Father, His broken body paved the path to our heavenly home.
We are reconciled to God through the life Jesus gave for the world. Since the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), the pouring out of Jesus’ perfect blood emptied His body of physical life so that we could have eternal life.
When we feast on the flesh of Christ, we are relishing the Word of God. Jesus was the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Our spiritual food is to soak in as much of Scripture as possible so we can stay fortified for our daily life on earth and our eternal life in heaven.
I need to approach my time in the Bible even more seriously than my time at the dinner table.
My full plate will only last until the next meal. God’s Word endures forever. I must feed both my body and spirit to have fullness of life for now and all time.
After returning from the store, I packed my white bread and my Bible as essential items. I needed both to outlast the storm. Thankfully, God kept me and my family safe during the hurricane.
The moments I tore my eyes from the weather on the screen to read the words of hope in the Word sustained my heart throughout the rain. And that meant more to me than a few slices of white bread. May we all feast on the body of Christ as our bread of eternal life through fair winds and high storms.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Florida.