August 13, 2000

John 6:35, 41-51 (CEV)

Jesus replied [to the people asking for the bread from heaven]: "I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty.

The people started grumbling because Jesus had said he was the bread that had come down from heaven. They were asking each other, "Isn't he Jesus, the son of Joseph? Don't we know his father and mother? How can he say that he has come down from heaven?"

Jesus told them: "Stop grumbling! No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me makes them want to come. But if they do come, I will raise them to life on the last day. One of the prophets wrote, "God will teach all of them." And so everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to me.

"The only one who has seen the Father is the one who has come from him. No one else has ever seen the Father. I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life.

"I am the bread that gives life! Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and later they died. But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will every die. I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever."


1. The imagery of Jesus as bread can go in many different directions. While the recurring refrain is that of eternal life there is a question always lurking in the background, "What are you going to do with your eternal life?"

Some folks take it to mean that the current Body of Christ, the Bread of the World, needs to be involved, quite literally, with being sure that none who approach Jesus will be hungry. To have received the bread of life is to commit oneself to seeing that others have bread and are encouraged to investigate other breads, even Jesus. Various groups have cared for this in political lobbying fashions as well as direct action for individuals and relief for whole communities. If you are part of those who sense the need to have this scripture be true in the present you will be interested in these and related links:
     Bread for the World
     WAFER Food Pantry in La Crosse
     United Methodist Committee on Relief

2. The Spiritual Formation Bible connects the bread of the world with worship in a suggested exercise. "Think about how it feels to be hungry - hungry in your stomach and hungry in your soul. Then think of the best bread you have ever tasted. Smell its yeasty aroma. What does it look like? Feel its crust and its soft interior with your fingers. Taste it. Savor the experience. What kinds of things are like bread for you - savory, filling, satisfying? Write down some descriptive words that come to you. What does it mean for you to 'eat' the bread Jesus offers? At your earliest opportunity (according to your custom), take your place at the communion table of the Lord and receive the bread of remembrance, the bread of life.

3. Jacques Ellul (The Presence of the Kingdom) suggests that the Revolutionary Christian lives as Jesus lived. "Every Christian who has received the Holy Spirit is now a prophet of the Return of Christ, and by this very fact he has a revolutionary mission in politics: for the prophet is not one who confines himself to foretelling with more or less precision an event more or less distant; he is one who already 'lives' it, and already makes it actual and present in his own environment."

So the Bread of Life leads some to relief, some to worship, some to embodiment. As you chomp away on the bread of life, as you feast on Jesus, is your path one of these or a fourth or fifth way?

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