WORDS OF JESUS– “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE”
By Pastor Robert L. Donnelly
John 6:35 – Jesus said, “I AM the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Now let us turn to the Book, and gather from it some of those life-giving and soul-satisfying truths that have brought light and life to multitudes through the ages. As we follow the theme, the WORDS of JESUS, His profound statement, “I AM the Bread of Life” is our text. The setting for this, found in John chapter 6, is the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. People then were the same as people now – willing to follow anything or anybody who would give them bread.
The fact that a demonstration of Divine power had produced the bread, and that a manifestation of Divine grace had provided the bread, seemed entirely lost on this greedy, thankless people.
They came seeking Him the next day, crossing the SEA of TIBERIAS, and after they had found Him, Jesus said to them (vs. 26), “Verily, verily, I say unto you, you seek Me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled with bread. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
In other words, these people would cross the sea to get a free meal, but they wouldn’t cross the street to find food for the soul. They saw not the hands that broke the bread; they heard not the voice praying for God’s blessing on their head. They cared not that He who fed them was the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and could satisfy the inner cravings of the soul, even as He had met and satisfied the hunger pangs of the body. Apparently, all they gained from this mighty miracle was a very good meal; and, apparently, that is all they wanted.
What a study in contrast, and how true to life, even in this enlightened age, where almost the entire emphasis of life is for the body. Houses are built and furnished with one object in view –the comfort of the body. Great power-plants are erected, and all kinds of electrical equipment invented and manufactured –all designed to make life more pleasant and effortless for the body. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent yearly in medical research, and millions are spent building hospitals to care for the body, and yet everyone who knows anything knows that at very best our stay here will be very brief, and it can be terminated at any moment by an accident in spite of every precaution.
But what about the BREAD of LIFE? What about caring for that part of us which will outlast the body? –What good were greater barns to the rich man in Luke chapter 12, when God said to him “You fool, this night your soul will be required of you”? (Luke 12:20) –What good was all the wealth of the rich man in Luke chapter 16 when, as Jesus said, “in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment”? (Luke 16:23) –What good were thirty pieces of silver to Judas, the betrayer of the LORD Jesus?
They couldn’t stifle his guilty conscience, nor quiet his fearful heart. (Matthew 26:15) –In short, what good are things of time and sense that have to do only with the external, if in our search for them we entirely ignore and neglect the deeper, richer values that never fade nor rust nor mould, but rather grow richer, sweeter, more precious with the passing of the years?
The old argument, “Better Living Conditions Make Better People” has long since been disproven; for no people on earth enjoy a higher standard of living than those who live on the North American continent. Yet, the crime rate per capita seems to rise with the increase of luxuries. Better fed people are not necessarily better people. Often, they are worse, as a study of history would certainly indicate especially the history of Israel. Read it in the story of the Kings, and you will note that the spiritual and moral life of the nation deteriorated each time she became materially and politically prosperous.
Even the history of the Church follows the same pattern, and the rule is that the Church is at her best when suffering persecution, opposition, and privation. The only explanation that can be found for this condition is: people’s neglect to feed on the Living Bread when the material bread is abundant. When all is well in the natural realm, the soul is starved while the body is satiated.
The more abundantly God blesses us with temporal prosperity, the more we are inclined to live for the devil. And, the kindest thing that God can do for us is to strip us of all earthly possessions and comforts, until we are ready to labor for that Bread which will never perish –for those riches which will never fade –for those treasures and pleasures which still abide, after all earthly values have crumbled into dust. Jesus said, “I AM the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
There’s an ancient prophecy in the book of Amos 8:11-12 that I’d like to read for you. “Behold, the days come, says the LORD GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”
The primary reference is to ISRAEL, who had slain her prophets and turned to idolatry –to gods of wood and stone; the result being spiritual famine which resulted in spiritual death for multitudes. History repeats itself, and spiritual principles that are demonstrated in Israel’s history are being demonstrated on a world-wide scale in our day.
There’s spiritual famine in GERMANY today, the land of the Protestant Reformation. –There’s spiritual famine in RUSSIA today, for the gods of Communism can never feed the soul of man. –There’s spiritual famine in the BRITISH ISLES, in INDIA, in CHINA, in AFRICA, in SOUTH AMERICA, in the ISLANDS of the sea. Yes, there’s spiritual famine in the UNITED STATES and CANADA. There are thousands and thousands of men and women, fathers and mothers of families, who haven’t been to the house of God for soul-nourishment for years.
Indeed, there are those – born, lived, and died - right here in this fair province who never once heard the Gospel of Grace, the sweetest story ever told. There are hundreds of rural areas where the messengers of the Cross have never been, where the songs of Zion are never sung, where the sound of prayer is never heard, and where the Living Bread is never offered to perishing men and women. The Gospel is never heard on the radio, though multitudes could, if they wanted to. After all, who wants to be bothered listening to religious programs on the only day in the week when they can sleep till noon? Who wants to be reminded of Eternity when they’re having so much fun in Time? Why bother about the Future, when the Present is so exciting and interesting? Who wants to be delivered from sin, when sin offers so much pleasure?
There is no doubt about it, there is a spiritual famine in the land –not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but for the hearing the Word of the LORD. Nevertheless, Jesus said, “I AM the living Bread. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
There are many things on the market these days, labelled as ‘soul food,’ advertised as satisfying life’s desires. Art, music, drama, recreation, and dissipation all vie with each other in an effort to satisfy the soul of men. But whether he climbs the dizzy heights of world-renown as an artist, or plunges to the depths as a gambler or drunkard, there is still an inner longing, a secret craving, a deep unsatisfied hunger. And when (if) he comes to himself, he’ll say, like the Prodigal Son,
“How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’”
AUGUSTINE said, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” W. H. OGBORN puts it this way: There are tones never reached in music, and feelings for words too deep;
There are scenes past all earthly vision, and griefs that tears can’t weep;
There’s a harp un-swept, in each bosom kept, that only God’s hand can sweep.
There are riches past all earthly treasure and objection no gold can conceal;
There are tints never reached on a palette, and a blackness no night can feel;
There’s a jewel unmined, in each heart enshrined, that only God’s hand can reveal.
There’s a language by words never spoken, there’s a silence no clamor can break; There are storms beyond earth’s wildest tempest, and a calm that no terror can shake;
There’s a thirst for a stream in each deep human dream that only God’s Word can slake.
Jesus said, “I AM the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”