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I Am the Bread of Life 

I Am the Bread of Life 

  • "I Am the Bread of Life" originally appeared in the April 2024 "20 Under 40" issue of COMO Magazine.
Loaves and Fishes

We often live in fear that we won’t have what we need. 

I remember when my husband and I were first married. We headed into Chicago with a friend to walk around downtown. As dusk approached, we were getting hungry, but couldn’t find a restaurant. Finally, we stumbled upon Dunkin’ Donuts and bought a donut and a carton of milk to tide me over. 

We headed toward the car, agreeing to stop at a restaurant on the way out of town. Unfortunately, I was in the back seat and fell asleep. When I woke up, all I saw was darkness. No city lights anywhere. I panicked. 

The guys didn’t want to wake me up, so they kept driving. They did not seem to understand that when I said I needed food, I was serious! I asked them nicely, or maybe not so nicely, to stop at the first place that might have food. A bit later we pulled into an old convenience store. I looked around at the sparse options and picked up a brick of cheese.  

“How are you going to eat that without a knife?” my husband asked, again not understanding. I pulled back the wrapper and took a big bite. “That’s how,” I said.  

We still joke about this story when our friend comes to town, but it didn’t seem quite so funny then. I needed food. 

Jesus’ disciples faced a similar dilemma in the Gospel of John, chapter 6. 

During his ministry, Jesus spoke to large crowds near the Sea of Galilee. On this day, Jesus sat down with his disciples at the top of a mountain and watched the crowd assemble below. They kept coming until the mountainside was filled with 15,000 men, women, and children.  

It was much like Jesus talking to a sold-out crowd at Mizzou Arena. 

He said to one of his disciples, “Where are we going to get bread for these people to eat?” The disciples were skeptical. One disciple finally said, “I did see a boy with five loaves of barley bread and two fish, but I’m not sure how that’s going to help.” Jesus tells his disciples to have the people sit down as he prepares to meet the need. John 6:11-13 says … 

 “Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also, the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So, they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.” 

Jesus meets their need. And there is more than enough to go around! When everyone was full, the disciples gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers. 

Imagine Mizzou Arena going wild. The people are ecstatic.

The crowd is moved and responds with a declaration that Jesus must be a prophet. Being afraid they would take him and force him to become king, Jesus withdraws. 

The next day, the crowds seek out Jesus again, only this time in Capernaum, another town on the Sea of Galilee. 

Here, we hear a conversation in the synagogue. The people ask questions and Jesus answers, over and over. Often, Jesus’s answers responded to questions the crowd didn’t even know they were asking. 

Finally, Jesus points out that there are two kinds of food: food for the body, which is necessary but not the most important, and food for the inner man, the spirit, which is essential. He wants them to understand that no amount of barley loaves could satisfy the core hunger that he came to satisfy. 

As they persist with questions, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” 

Jesus wants them to understand that he is God’s son, the bread of life. But they aren’t getting it.  

Jesus uses this metaphor two more times with the crowd. He is forecasting his eventual death and resurrection, the ultimate sacrifice that would allow them to live forever in his presence.  

Jesus wanted them to know that he didn’t just provide what they needed. He was what they needed. 

Maybe you feel empty today. Or you may ache from being full of the wrong things. Jesus’s promise to us is that he will fill us so that we will never be hungry again.  

God sees your need. He came to be your provider, your bread of life. Will you trust him with that today? 

Beth Bramstedt is the Church Life Pastor at Christian Fellowship.

Beth Bramstedt is the Church Life Pastor at Christian Fellowship. 

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