In his book, God’s Psychiatry, Charles Allen tells this story that occurred as World War II was drawing to a close.
The Allied armies had gathered up many hungry orphans and they were placed in camps where they were well fed. Despite excellent care, they slept poorly. They seemed nervous and afraid. Finally, a psychologist came up with a solution.
Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after he was put to bed. This particular piece of bread was just to be held—not eaten. The piece of bread produced wonderful results. The children went to bed knowing instinctively they would have food to eat the next day. That guarantee gave the children a restful and contented night of sleep.
Bread is the staff of life. It met the needs of these anxious children not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. In the same way, Jesus, the Bread of Life, meets our needs spiritually.
The next day after Jesus fed the 5,000 by producing enough food from 5 loaves and 2 fishes, he spoke to the multitudes and claimed to be the provider of spiritual sustenance when he said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger” ( John 6:35).
The problem of the people in Jesus day was well stated by Homer Hailey in his book That You May Believe. “Prior to the coming of Jesus, the human family had sought to feed the spirit on the husks of human philosophy on the one hand and on the traditions and legalistic observance of law on the other. Both had failed; man was in a state of spiritual malnutrition.”
The metaphor of bread speaks volumes. Bread is universally eaten around the world. It is a basic staple of life. It is prepared in many different ways. And meets various needs. It is eaten by rich and poor alike. Its aroma is pleasing to the sense of smell when it’s baking and tasty to the palate when eaten.
It was bread that sustained God’s people in the wilderness. The sweet manna from heaven was a daily reminder of God’s special provision and providential care. God gave them bread to satisfy their physical needs, but sent Jesus to satisfy our spiritual needs. Or as Max Lucado expressed it, ” What bread is to hunger, Jesus claims to be for the soul.”
Thaxter Dickey suggests there is “three-fold symbolism in Jesus as the Bread of Life.” (1) Like the bread feeds the body, the sacrifice of his material flesh provides us with spiritual life. (2) The Word of God is compared to bread or food (Ps 119:103. And Jesus is the Word (Jn 1:1). (3) This could be an indirect future reference to the Lord’s Supper. When Jesus instituted it, he took the bread, gave thanks and said “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matt. 26:26)
It’s been nearly 2,000 years since God sent this special manna from heaven, Jesus Christ. He proclaimed, “I am the Bread of Life.” His claim was misunderstood, disputed, and ultimately rejected. As a result, many ceased to follow Him anymore.
Jesus, then turned to the apostle and asked, “Will you also go away?”
Peter’s response is classic, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Friday’s vicarious death on the cross and Sunday’s victorious resurrection would further validate Peter’s faith and Jesus’ claim.
What about you? To whom will you turn?
There is only one person that can satiate the hunger of your soul and craving of your spirit. It is He who says to you, “I am the Bread of Life.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman