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The Parable of The Bread of Life

John 6:31-38

It is important when studying any section of Scripture to first read it in its correct context: Therefore, when you read the four Gospels in their chronological order, you discover that Jesus had been in a state of personal grief when He performed the following act of compassion. He had just received news that His much loved cousin, John the Baptist, had been brutally murdered. He had planned to spend some private time with His Father who would comfort His inner anguish. However a huge crowd had gathered to hear him teach. After many hours of teaching, He knew the people needed to commence their long walk home. It was late, they were hungry and tired. To test His disciple’s faith, He asked them: “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?” (John 6:5b) One young boy had five barley loaves and two fish. With only this small provision, Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men and their families. (It was usual in those days, to count the number of men only in estimating the size of a crowd.)

Therefore, at least twelve to fifteen thousand hungry people were fed with just one boy’s packed lunch. I suspect that as the twelve disciples were actually handing out their allotted portions to each person, God was supernaturally multiplying the food in the disciple’s hands. God blesses abundantly: twelve baskets of left-over food were collected by the astonished disciples!

Then, Jesus dismissed the people and asked His disciples to leave and to come back later for Him, so they returned to their boat. Suddenly, they were buffeted by strong winds. Jesus, sensing their fear, walked out on the water toward them and Peter called out, “I hope it’s really you Lord. Let me walk to you.” So Peter’s faith allowed him to walk some hesitant steps then he panicked and Jesus assisted him back into the boat. Jesus boarded the boat and they headed towards the other shore.

Then Jesus began to lead up to our key passage:

When they arrived, the people asked, “How did you get here?” They knew that Jesus hadn’t been on the boat when His disciples had left. He answered: “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:26-27)

The truth is many of us today still labor for the food that perishes. Many people today are satisfying their soul’s appetite with food such as the internet, TV, DVDs, MP3s and all sorts of things that pass away. We all have to have the latest mobile phone and we just spend money, then more money and more money after that. Our desire for all things new is insatiable.

Jesus says, “Do not work for things that perish, but instead set your appetite toward food that results in everlasting life, which Me.” Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (v.29) Note these words: The only “work” Jesus requires of us, is to believe in Him. When we do that, with all our heart, our faith will be evidenced by good fruit done in His strength.

Jesus went on: Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?” (v.30) Now, I don’t know about you, but Jesus had just walked on water. He had helped Peter walk on water. He had fed 12,000 to 15,000 people with two fish and some bread rolls. Not only that, His disciples had witnessed Him performing mighty signs such as healing every sick person that had come to Him. Yet despite all this evidence of His supernatural power, they were still looking for some special sign! Can you believe it?

Do you know that nothing has changed today? Some of the most gifted evangelists in the world are constantly being asked for signs. People want a medical doctor’s proof of cancer and diseases being healed. If a person is raised from the dead, people want official evidence to say that they had in fact died. When God causes bones to grow etc evidence of x-rays are sought. Someone’s testimony of a miracle is not enough! No, people today have not changed at all: they still want signs.

The major passage for this particular parable is this: Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from Heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.” 

Then they said, “Lord, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst, but I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.” (vv. 32-38)

Did you understand that incredible promise Jesus just made? He said: “All that the Father gives Me, and the one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.”

Jesus just re-assured all those who have partaken of this bread; who have received Him as their own personal Savior and Lord, that their salvation is eternally secure. We have this blessed assurance from the greatest authority who ever lived on earth. Many Christians believe and even teach others, that certain sins will cause loss of salvation. Does this passage actually mean that if you are a Christian, that Jesus will never cast you out from His Kingdom? YES! I pray that God’s extraordinary grace will keep that revelation of assurance deep in your spirit so that your peace will remain steadfast and sure.

In saying “he that comes to me shall never hunger,” Jesus is saying that one day you are going to be hungry and the next day the same, and the day after, you will still be hungry. But if you eat the true bread from Heaven, you are not going to be hungry any more. So how does that work out practically in our lives? Often I have sat in churches and heard teaching on the parables of Jesus, but not often in a way that means something to me personally.

For ten years I have been thinking of writing a book on the parables of Jesus and I have been looking into them, simply to answer other people’s questions and also my own.

Mental illness has taken me to extremely dark places, but knowing Jesus as my intimate friend has always been my anchor. Feeling His presence, even at my lowest times has been my only reason for living. I have personally experienced His awesome love and this motivates me to stay close to Him.

Without His intervention in my life, I would not be alive today for He sent a total stranger to minister to me, even as I was on my way to end my life in Brisbane. Often I feel that His heart and mine are intertwined. I truly live for Him and perhaps some people may think I am strange! He really is my passion in life! Even from a very young teenager, my desire has never been focused on the riches of this world, but to reach souls for Jesus Christ.

I know that true fulfillment comes from knowing Jesus. Ask Him to put His “love filter” over your eyes so you can actually see people as He sees them. His love and compassion will over-ride your complacency and timidity and you will be compelled to place the needs of others higher than your own. That is my tried and true recipe for the human heart’s fulfillment.

Jesus has created our spirits to hunger for Him and His will in our life. When we find His will and embrace it, then we are completely in union with Him and peace will reign in our heart. It is important to realize that what you do with your money and time changes lives and when you have a positive impact on others, you will discover that you will have a totally fulfilled life. People look for a new car, a new house, a new mobile phone, a new digital TV, a new this, a new that, in order to bring fulfillment into their life. Even when you are buying the latest trendy gadget, there is always an associated “high” but it soon fades.

Everyone is looking for that little burst of joy, but what sort of joy really lasts? What is the kind of joy that is like this bread of life Jesus is talking about here? Where can you find the joy that will hang around for years? What can you do in this world that will stop you from feeling drained or empty? Jesus said that He is the bread of life but how can you consume this bread? What is Jesus talking about? Here are some suggestions:

If it cost an evangelist on average, twenty dollars a month to save a lost soul in Africa, you could make a commitment to God to give this amount each month towards this work. Do you realize that in a year your money would save twelve souls? How many souls are you currently saving in a year?

Did you know, you may have problems in your life, but as soon as our Lord Jesus comes into an African person, whose life has been either bound in the Muslim tradition or in witchcraft, that transformation in their life is a joyful experience for them? It is a total revolution in their life, and you, just by giving an easy twenty dollars a month, are their benefactor. You have co-partnered with the evangelist and are jointly responsible for these people going to Heaven. By donating an hour or so of work per month you could be saving one person a month. Imagine that!

Imagine giving twenty dollars to someone who is homeless, or taking a homeless person out for dinner at a club. Your company alone to them: would make their day. Imagine how far twenty dollars would help a single mother in your church. Imagine buying twenty dollars worth of baby formula for her? There are so many things you can do when your eyes are focused on other people, and on God’s priorities. You know God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). God does not need your money, but He delights in involving you in His work on earth. When you have been blessed by Him, as I have been, you will feel compelled to take part in His Kingdom business. You will want to do this, not out of a “works mentality” but out of gratitude for all that He has done for you.

Jesus spent all day every day in ministry to others. When He came out to breakfast after prayer, He would begin to serve others. If He was not healing people and casting out demons, He was teaching them a new way of life. When He was finished speaking, the people flooded Him with questions and He gave a few more hours to answer them. Jesus was always giving, always serving, always making Himself available to all people to meet their spiritual and physical needs. So too, the bread of life can be properly accessed in a life of service and giving.

You see, whenever you are striving for food, whenever you are striving for one new thing after another, you are never going to be satisfied. The reason we put up with television and all the advertisements in between our favorite programs is because we love the advertisements just as much as we love the shows. We enjoy buying new things. We are addicted to the rush of buying. Become addicted to the blast of doing Kingdom business.

Many people live in this life with no real direction and purpose. Few Christians really know the purpose of why they are on earth. Most people are simply living and wandering around aimlessly. It is vital to discover not only God’s general will but His personal will for you in His kingdom plan. Only in living in your purpose can you really be fully satisfied. Only by walking in the will of God each day can we really cease to be hungry.

A survey in the United States found that only ten percent of Christians knew what their spiritual gifts were. Out of these, only ten percent of them were actually walking in and using their spiritual gifts. That means that ninety nine percent of Christians in the United States are not doing what God has called them to do and sadly, only one percent of Christians in the United States experience full satisfaction in life.

Find out what your spiritual gifts are. Spend your time and money in using those gifts. You will see what Jesus was talking about: you will see the fundamentals of His Kingdom and how to live in them.

You know that Jesus mostly taught in parables because it made people really think deeply about His words. Have you ever wondered what the bread of life is? Are you a Christian who is not sustained by faith? Are you a Christian living a life of sadness, depression, feeling down, or feeling as though the Christian life is not everything that it was cracked up to be? Are you living with self-condemnation? Is your life steeped in sin? Do you have addictions? Do you have sins that you simply cannot stop doing? There is more to the Christian life than this.

It is not God’s will for us to be living in depression or spending time being consumed by the lusts of the world. He wants us to experience joy and godly contentment. We live in the world but we are not meant to be of the world. You can live in the world without lusting for what it offers. The Holy Spirit residing in you is your overcoming strength.

Living God’s will for your life is the only place where you will cease from hungering. Ask your friends and those who really know you, what they think your spiritual gifts are and consciously begin to operate in them so that they will fully develop. Then you will discover a joy that cannot be compared to what you have now.

To read more about Matthew Robert Payne or to know how to book him to speak at your church click on my name Matthew Robert Payne