The first things to disappear from store shelves when a hurricane is coming are water and bread. We have to have that water. We have to have that bread. Those are vital for life. Those are the staples that we can’t live without. And, I should note, our store shelves have neither bread nor water as we prepare for a hurricane. In some cultures, bread itself is honored. As a friend who was living in Central Asia explained, if bread falls to the ground, they pick it up and put it on a fence post, or something like that, so that it won’t be subject to being crushed underfoot, or dirtied by the ground. You can see the respect in the way they handle their bread. Clean water is becoming harder and harder to find because we haven’t taken care of God’s world. Many believe that the next great war will be fought over water, because clean water is so precious.
This understanding of bread and water helps us to know why Jesus described Himself as Living Water and the Bread of Life. It was the day after Jesus fed thousands of people. They couldn’t figure out where He had gone to, because they hadn’t considered the possibility of walking on water, so they searched for Him. Once they found Him, the discussion got interesting. They kept talking about physical bread and Jesus tried to focus on the spiritual. So often, even when we’re dealing with spiritual issues, we want to focus on the physical. Too often we fail to see the spiritual truths in the face of physical situations. For instance, the first hurricane I was in, people worried about the effects of the wind. I felt the wind and marveled that compared to the power of God, the wind was nothing. As I believe even now with #Harvey bearing down on us. What does God want? “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
When I read this story, I was amazed at the audacity of the people involved. After Jesus had fed them the day before, they searched for Him only to ask Him to feed them again. They expected physical bread. The kind of stuff that isn’t on our store shelves now. (Sorry, had to laugh at that.) They had just been fed by Jesus and they referenced Moses noting that he had fed the Israelites in the wilderness, would He feed them too? Jesus made it clear that God had provided for their spiritual needs in a way that they could never do themselves. He was the bread of heaven. The manna came from God to feed the Israelites on their journey and meet physical needs, Jesus came to meet their spiritual needs and offer them Heaven. He offered them a relationship with God. He let them know that the Kingdom of God was among them, and the immigration policy was simple: believe in Him. Faith in Him would be rewarded with eternal life and would never be taken away.
While physical bread may be in short supply here, there is never any shortage of Jesus. His love overflows and extends to all people. It never lessens, it only grows as others accept His love and then share it. If you want to know what God wants in any situation, it’s simple. He wants everyone to believe in Jesus and gain eternal life. The most despised person on earth, should they repent and turn to Jesus would have the same amount of love that any other believe would have – that any person would have if they accepted it. I continue to be amazed by the depth of God’s love and every time I read passages like these, I see the love of Jesus. Even though He’s remonstrating those who seek the physical, He does it in such a way that if they truly understood, they would know His love and His message of hope.
Lord, my spirit needs Your bread. A bread that will bring eternal life, that I will never need again, but that continues to taste good each and every day as I read Your word. Continue to feed me.