“I am the bread of life…”;
Tony E Dillon Hansen
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35 NRSV)
Whenever I would hear this as a child in church, I would suddenly feel hungry and want a sandwich. As an adult reading this, I decided to get one with my coffee.
Jesus has been preaching and teaching to growing crowds. This verse comes in context of chapter 6 when Jesus performs a sign by feeding the thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish. This curious and persistent crowd continues to follow Jesus asking questions, and as if one is not enough, they ask for yet another sign.
These signs have multi-dimensions. Jesus tells us the bread is more than a couple of loaves. People, like myself, look at what is in front of us, but we can still miss the point. Yet, there are insatiable appetites demonstrated in the persistence here, but is the need one of food, entertainment or something else? Something is missing, but we won’t get true sustenance by just consuming.
There is also the complaining. They were just privileged to have meal with Jesus and now complaining about its delivery and message. One has to wonder if we are focusing upon our personal egos and privilege rather than living in the way of God. Jesus reminds us of injustice and struggles in our lives and ancestry and that God gave us gifts (“manna”). Thus, when we see injustice and oppression, do we just “hem and haw” about peoples’ grumblings, or do we help our neighbors find justice? Our ancestors struggled, and Jesus was executed - for justice and forgiveness for all - so that we might share bread together.
Jesus stops us and gives us something to really consider. We will never understand the signs. We won’t witness the Spirit at work right in front of us and within us, especially when we are constantly consuming and focused upon selfish concerns.
Jesus reminds us of the work our Creator is doing in and among us. If we were to pay attention to what the Spirit is saying, we might find an answer to what is missing. We might realize that we do not need to keep consuming in order to be happy. While my sandwich was delicious and satisfying, that satisfaction is limited. We can let go of our hunger because we can live in the promise of our Creator, and when we do, we can live in the mystery that helps us to let go of the bonds of our world. No food craving, no daily grunt, no systemic injustice, nor wretched oppression can keep us from finding sustenance in the One who brought us. This bread of life is liberation. This is what feeds me and may the spirit feed you as well.
May the One, who brought us and keeps us, be with us this season as we seek to pay attention, seek sustenance, seek humility of ego, and seek Your Holy justice. May we share Your bread of life. Amen.