Most of us live in towns and have enough money to go to a shop and buy whatever we want to eat. We don’t go hungry and in fact we have a very wide range of food to eat. But it was not always so.
Prior to the industrial revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries, most people lived in rural areas and most people had just one main form of food: bread.
To mention bread meant the staple, the essential foodstuff of life. It meant the very means to go on existing physically in this physical world. It was the difference between eating and not eating at all; between starvation and living.
That is the context we must consider when we read about Jesus describing himself as the “bread of life” in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John.
He had just performed the miracle of feeding the 5000 by multiplying five loaves and two fish. The people had become desperately hungry after a long period listening to his teaching.
So Jesus met their physical need.
But Jesus went on to explain to his disciples that “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never never hunger”
Of course he wasn’t talking about physical hunger; he was referring to spiritual hunger. The need for spiritual food. And he says that he is the one to meet that spiritual need. He says in the same passage that, “the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.”
Just as food is vital to the physical body to live and remain healthy, so Jesus Christ is necessary to live and stay healthy spiritually.
The sustenance that our soul – our very inner identity and being – needs is Jesus Christ. And we are to come to him just as the 5000 came to him: in total trust and need; not counting whatever else might be needful in life; looking to him, to his teaching, his words of wisdom on which our very destiny in eternity depends hereafter.
Of course Jesus is no longer present with us in bodily form as he was 2000 years ago. But he is there spiritually, in the unseen dimension which rules this physical world.
And when we come to the Bible, we come to the one who is described first and foremost in the Gospel of John as “the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God“.
And that is how we come to him. Listening to and reading the words of the Bible message explained to us in the New Testament. Hearing them; receiving them; acting on them. Living our lives according to them, and refusing to live our lives according to the self centred instincts and motives we find within ourselves and around us. Living instead by the Spirit which God puts in our very being when we receive the message of Jesus Christ and decide to live obeying him as Lord.