Lesson for week of May 6: Jesus is the true bread that lasts for eternity


Rev. Doreen Smalls
Scripture: John 6:22 -35
The sixth chapter of John opens with Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee and a multitude of persons following him. Jesus knew the crowd would be hungry and asked Philip where they could purchase food. Since neither Philip nor Andrew had a solution for feeding the massive group, Jesus took lunch (two fish and five loaves of bread) from a boy. He blessed it, broke it, and served it to the crowd. The sustenance that Jesus provided was more than enough. It not only met the needs of the crowd, but there was plenty left over.
Jesus understood that the physical needs of the people were important and he did not ignore them. But he came not only to provide bread; he is the bread of life!
“Kneading” something more
The next day the crowd went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. Once they found him they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you come here? Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves’” (John 6: 26).
Jesus chastised the crowd because they had the wrong motivation. They had witnessed a miracle but were not interested in Jesus. This miracle displayed God’s presence and power. Jesus was seen only as means to satisfy their physical appetites. But Jesus did not merely come to fill their stomachs – he came to fill them with God’s presence. They were focused on something that would not last instead of focusing on the “everlasting gift of God.”
While it is important that our physical needs are met, it is important to remember there is more to life. We often subordinate all else to physical appetites. While Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he stated clearly, “one does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4).
Jesus further explained, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal” (John 6:27). Much of our human endeavor is devoted to things that perish. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus also encouraged his followers not to invest themselves too much in perishable things (Matthew 6:19). He advised them to concentrate on things that are eternal.
Bread provides only a temporary solution for physical hunger, but Jesus is the true bread that lasts for eternity. He is the bread of life that fills the heart and the soul.
When we try to fill our lives with other things, we will always come up empty. Many believe if they could have more money, a bigger home or the latest electronic gadget, then they will be satisfied. But nothing or no one can complete us like Jesus.
Why is it that we humans so often seek the things that cannot satisfy when all is said and done? Why do we think those things can fill us?
The feast is yours
After the crowd inquired about the bread that Jesus was offering, Jesus explained, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Jesus described himself as the bread that truly nourishes, for the partakers are never hungry or thirsty again. He is the One who gives eternal life.
Through him we are strengthened so we can perform the work of God. He sustains us and provides for us daily. We are reminded that Jesus’ body, like the bread, was broken for us so we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. As we feast on the bread of life, we are encouraged to invite others to partake as well.
Do you believe you are called to a life of thanksgiving and sharing of Christ with others? Have you been made full by the bread of life or do you still have hunger in your heart?
Rev. Doreen Smalls is an associate director at the Office of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at doreen@sgaumc.com.