The Bread of Life

from the John reading plan

John 6:22-71, Exodus 16:4-5, Jeremiah 31:25

BY Bailey Gillespie

One of my favorite pieces of literature tells a story of a quest. On this quest, the key characters are given an allotment of special bread to sustain them on their journey. It’s a long, hard road ahead, and they have to carefully ration the bread so that it carries them through to the end. But there isn’t enough for the return journey. Some of the bread gets lost along the way, and there’s only enough to strengthen them for the final grueling climb up the mountain.  

In the end, these two characters do make it back home again, but this bread isn’t what saves them. It’s through forces of good that are outside their control—what you might call “divine intervention.” 

Just two chapters ago, in the book of John, we saw Jesus describe Himself as the living water to the Samaritan woman. He helped her understand His nature, the only One who is truly able to satisfy our thirst. Likewise, in John 6, Jesus expands on this imagery by claiming to also satisfy the hungry. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry,” says Jesus to the crowd at Capernaum, “and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35). 

What stands out to me in today’s passage is that the crowd already has a story that contextualizes what Jesus is saying. On one hand, the people are tracking. They’re familiar with the stories of their ancestors that tell of God’s provision in the wilderness. They know their heritage and how God provided the Israelites with bread from heaven to sustain them on their journey (Exodus 15:4). But they’re also confused. They’re hung up on tangible signs and the kind of bread you can chew and tear apart in your hands. 

With full bellies and curious hearts, they question Jesus in a verbal exchange that’s almost humorous. But Jesus is trying to refocus their vision on eternal things. Miraculous loaves and fish, or heavenly bread in the wilderness, were not just intended to fill their bellies. They were prophetic meals that pointed to Christ. 

I’m grateful for stories of great literature that remind us of God’s divine provision amid our limitations. Physical food and drink only take us so far. Jesus, the bread of life, never runs out (John 6:35), and He alone sustains us for the long and difficult journey ahead. He is the nourishment we feast on. There are no circumstances beyond His control. His grace and provision will see us through to the end.

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96 thoughts on "The Bread of Life"

  1. TinaMarie Hintz says:

    HELP!!! What is the name of literature you reference in the above devotional? The story about the two characters on a quest with special bread to sustain them?

  2. Adrienne says:

    And BROOKLUCERO, don’t mistake me for saying you do not have to DO anything. What we DO is a response to what He has DONE for us. We have been attending a church of a different denomination. Some of the congregation seems to believe that what WE DO ensures our place in eternity with Him. But it’s all about Him and what He has done! And BOBBIE ‘GREIMAN’ GRUNWALD the enemy does do that, doesn’t he? Grrr!

  3. Amanda Thomas says:

    @BROOKLUCERO…This was something I struggled with A LOT as a teen. I was raised in a church that taught you could lose your salvation when you sinned. It was miserable. After years of prayer and worry that I could never do good enough, the Lord showed me that I was right. I could never do good enough, no matter how hard I tried, and that was exactly why I needed Jesus. I had to stop trying to earn the right to keep my salvation and just trust in Him. I’m praying for you.

  4. Ali Adair says:

    Lord, please open my heart to deeper belief and fulfillment in you. Amen.

  5. Adrienne says:

    BROOKLUCERO… the Lutheran church does not subscribe to “once saved always saved” theology. So, in other words, salvation could be lost. BUT, it is not because of what we do/don’t do… It is based on whether we believe that Jesus died for our sins. Some could lose that belief… I don’t know HOW, but… (Some say that if someone loses that belief, they never had it in the first place.)

  6. Erin King says:

    MARY, that is so good!! Yes.

  7. Colleen Fiant says:

    Jesus is Enough.

  8. Bobbie 'Greiman'Grunwald says:

    @Brook I have had the same thoughts/fear. I now believe that is satan putting those thoughts in my head so I pray and rebuke satan at that moment. Chapt 6 tells us were have to believe in Jesus to have the bread of life-The Holy Spirit. Just believe. Your works do not get you to Heaven. Believing does.

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