They had just witnessed Him divide the waters in two. The cloud of His presence which had been guiding, had moved behind them, and become a beautiful barrier between them and their enemy which threatened to enslave them again. The enemy didn’t know the Israelites’ God had come for freedom, permanent and guaranteed freedom. He came to set captives free. He always would. He was their complete protection. Salvation came to their flesh on this earth, and was but a whisper of what was to come for their eternity. But now three days had gone by. Three days. And they were hungry and thirsty. They didn’t look beyond the temporal growl of their stomachs to take note of what their true need was. ”Oh if we were only back in Egypt” they cried! What a wound that must have been to the heart of the their Rescuer. The One that did the saving would also do the providing, and so He rained down manna from heaven to provide for their daily needs. Thin flakes of frost appeared beneath the dew and they collected their daily bread each morning.
He commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven. He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels.
Psalm 78: 23-25
Hundreds of years later Jesus stood beside the Sea of Galilee. The crowds of people followed Him to the other side of the lake, because the day before He had miraculously fed all of them with nothing more than a small boy’s lunch. Their hearts had not changed much in 1,500 years. They were still that same group of wandering, grumbling, hungry, seeking people; and now they came face to face with the One who could and would provide them with every last need they had. And their request? Give us the manna from heaven like our father’s were given in the desert. Give us the temporal! Give us what we want in the here and now! They didn’t know they were looking at the One who wanted to be their fulfillment for all eternity. They too, couldn’t look beyond their stomachs.
And so we hear the first of seven statements Jesus would make about Himself. These seven statements can change our lives if we will allow them to penetrate our hearts, and not just our stomachs. Jesus boldly claims divinity by beginning His sentence with “I Am”, and here He follows this first statement with “the Bread of Life.” I am the true bread of life. I am the One who can fill your need. I am the One my Father was hinting about in the desert when He opened the doors of heaven and rained down manna. That was just practice. Practice for when the Father would open the throne room door of heaven and rain down the Son himself, who would fill us with righteousness. But all they desired was bread.
Just when I begin to pitty those nearsighted Israelites, God asks me a question. ”Amy, what do you hunger and thirst for?” I know what the right answer is, Jesus tells what our correct response should be. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. But I don’t think He asks me the question because He knows that I am aware of the correct response. I think He asks the question because He knows I tend to hunger and thirst for the simple and plain bread of the here and now…way to much.
Jesus tells us, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” He says, “I am the bread of life.” If we would hunger and thirst for Him, we would never walk away wanting. He promises to fill us with Himself. So, what are you hungry for?
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh. John 6: 47-51