I love the Snickers commercials about hunger making people do strange things, “Snickers satisfies your hunger.” Our souls are hungry too, and we do STRANGE things when we are hungry. Jesus is the food that satisfies the hunger in our souls. In the last post we examined what people want from Jesus. Today we will see what we really need from Jesus.
What I Want Verses What I Need From Jesus
- I Need Jesus, Food For My Soul
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst.” John 6:35
The crowd did not grasp that Jesus spoke about himself as the Bread of Life spiritually; they wanted a daily supply of physical bread, saying, “Give us that bread every day of our lives.” Like the woman at the well who asked Jesus to give her the living water so she wouldn’t be thirsty again, this crowd wanted what Jesus could give so their lives could be made easier. They missed the point. So Jesus told them directly, “I am the bread of life.” If people wanted this bread, they must come to Jesus and believe in him. When Jesus used the words “I am,” he was pointing to his unique, divine identity. In essence this statement says, “I the Lord God am here to provide you with everything you need for your spiritual life.” For Jesus to say he is the Bread of Life is for him to say, “I am the sustenance of your life.” Just as bread supplies our bodies with strength and nourishment, Jesus, the true Bread from Heaven, had come to strengthen and nourish his people, so that they would never be hungry again and never thirst spiritually.
41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread from heaven.” John 6:41
2. I Need Jesus, Life For My Soul
53 So Jesus said again, “I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.
54 But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day. John 6:53-54
Jesus is alluding to the communion act that he will institute later: his body and blood that will be sacrificed on the cross. The cross is a picture of judgment and death. Jesus takes the punishment and death that we deserved. His body and blood bring life to our souls.
When Jesus fed the 5,000, the crowd remembered the days when God sent manna from Heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness. Maybe they hoped Jesus was the new Moses for their day. They must have seen all kinds of potential for a leader who could bring bread from Heaven. Such a leader could lead an army that would never have to worry about supply-lines. Such a leader could keep any population under his control. Such a leader could rule the world!
But Jesus did not come to feed the world with bread that would give physical life. He came to give Himself as the Bread of eternal life. In his explanation to the fickle crowd, Jesus pointed to the Communion Service that he would institute just before his death.
Jesus offers life to our dying souls. If we believe in him, we will have eternal life. But we have heard the gospel wrong if we think Jesus offers an escape from life and its problems. Thousands of Christians still face physical hunger, and millions face crushing difficulties. The gospel frees us to face life. In the middle of the world’s pessimism and despair, the gospel unflinchingly claims that Jesus offers infinitely more than this life can give. We will be disappointed if we expect the presence of Jesus in us to mean that we are immune to sin, struggles, and failures. There are many ways to know hunger and thirst, and we will undoubtedly experience many of them. One of Jesus’ last statements was, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33 nrsv).
- I Need Jesus, The Relationship I Am Looking For
56 All who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them. John 6:56-57
This is the first mention in this Gospel of “mutual indwelling” (that is, a simultaneous indwelling of two persons in each other, also known as “coinherence”). When we receive Jesus, we remain in him and he remains in us.
It’s incredible that the God of the universe wants to have a relationship with you and me! Jesus wants a genuine love relationship with every one of us. His relationship involves more than food handouts, a check list of rules or series of emotional highs. Unfortunately many people do not care about a relationship with Jesus.
All through chapter 6 we see the people arguing, complaining, grumbling, and then leaving.
When you think about it, the people who walked out on Jesus wanted what he could give to them in the same way a customer might demand service for pay. They wanted to do business with Jesus the soup kitchen, Jesus the cult leader, Jesus the miracle-worker. Jesus, the Bread of Life didn’t resonate with them. It didn’t play well. So they walked away. Many walk away today as well.
Why did Jesus’ words cause many of his followers to desert him?
- They may have realized that he wasn’t going to be the conquering Messiah-King they expected.
- He refused to give in to their self-centered requests.
- He emphasized faith, not deeds.
- His teachings were difficult to accept, and some of his words were offensive.
As we grow in our faith, we may be tempted to turn away because Jesus’ lessons are difficult. When discouragement, doubt, or confusion set in, will our response be to give up, ignore certain teachings, or reject Christ? Instead, we must consistently ask God to show us what the teachings mean and how they apply to our lives. We must then have the courage to act on God’s truth.
It turns out that even some of His closest disciples wanted Jesus only for what they could get out of Him. They had no real interest in a relationship with God. Verse 66 gives this sad indictment: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
That led to what I think is one of the most poignant moments in the Bible. Jesus, who was totally God, was also totally human. He felt what any of us would feel. He experienced the pain of rejection … especially the rejection of those he had considered close friends. Jesus turned to his apostles with a question that must have been hard to ask: “Are you also going to leave?”(verse 67) Jesus asked the Twelve.
Thankfully, good old Peter came through for Jesus. He spoke for the group: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69
Peter understood what the crowds had missed. The Apostles weren’t there for fish sandwiches, or to start a Jewish revolt against Rome, or to find a new list of rules to keep, or to get in on a Jesus pep rally, or to hold a big miracle crusade. They were there because they believed and knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God — the Messiah — the Bread of Life. All they needed was what they already had — Jesus himself.
Is He all you need? Is he YOUR Bread of Life? If you had been there the day Jesus called himself the Bread of Life would you have walked away, or would you have echoed Peter’s words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.”