Food for Thought, Food of Life

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry . . .”
From the Gospel of John, Chapter 6

“I AM the Bread of Life,” Jesus says. People who have been raised in the Christian faith might hear those words as a source of strength and comfort. When I hear them, I hear that the life of Jesus living in me is my daily bread, my sustenance, my health, my wholeness, my strength and my song.

What do people hearing these words for the first time today understand them to mean? In some cultures, bread (or other form of the local grain) is still the staple food, the primary, reliable, most affordable and available source of nutrition in quantity. But for others, bread is seen as more of an added treat that is not terribly healthy for us—perhaps something to be avoided altogether, something we used to think we needed but now we know better. In that context, what might people say about Jesus Christ?

Going back in time, when Jesus first uttered those words, what did his listeners hear? Jesus had just fed more than 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. And when the people came back the next day wanting more—because they were hungry again—Jesus said he himself is the bread for eternal life. And the people wrestled with that. How can this be? How offensive that Jesus says we should eat his body! Shocking! They were confused. They tried to understand but failed. Even Jesus’s own disciples struggled with his wild-sounding words.

What do you hear when Jesus says to you, “I am the Bread of Life?”

Starting July 25, we’ll begin a 5-week sermon series to ponder and apply these words of Jesus, in and to our lives. We’ll chew on it a while (pun most definitely intended, see John 6:51-52). In addition to Sundays, a “Food for Thought” section in this newsletter will serve up a question or two for reflection, to help open up the portion of John 6 that we’ll be hearing in worship the upcoming Sunday.

Here are the featured scriptures, divided up Sunday to Sunday:
July 25 John 6:1-21
August 1 John 6:24-35
August 8 John 6:35, 41-51
August 15 John 6:51-58
August 22 John 6:56-69

For added understanding, will you join me in reading the whole of John chapter 6? You might want read it in a few Bible translations and see if different phrasing here and there opens up new insights or questions to ponder. You could start here. You might read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in the other three Gospels and compare how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each tell it. What’s the same? What’s different? What stands out to you in each? What do you notice? (See Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17.)

Today, Jesus still tells us that, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes n me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). I hope you’ll take this opportunity to chew on these words, spoken by the One who has the words of eternal life.

God’s peace and grace to you this day.

Pastor Annemarie