Jesus had just fed over 10,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. After that, he walked on water to get to his disciples who had left by boat earlier in the afternoon. Not bad for a day’s work.
But the next day when the crowds found Jesus, they asked, “When did you get here?” (John 6:25). You see, they knew Jesus wasn’t in that boat with his disciples. He responded, “You aren’t looking for me because you saw me do something only God can do, you are looking for me to get another free coupon to the buffet.”
Moments later, Jesus tells his listeners, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Then, just to make things a bit clearer, he says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
What? Did Jesus just say that people had to eat his flesh? Yes. He did.
Lots of commentary has been offered about this. And if you look and listen enough, you’ll find some bizarre interpretations. I don’t believe Jesus is talking literally about eating his flesh. I don’t believe he’s trying to shock his listeners with a gross analogy. I believe he’s telling us straight up: “I don’t just make bread or give bread. I AM bread.”
In other words, he is saying that everything we think can satisfy our deepest desires will never do. We eat bread at 8am. By noon we are hungry again. We watch our football team win on Saturday. By Tuesday we can’t remember the score. We finally buy that outfit we’ve been waiting to go on sale. After one season it’s “out of style.”
Jesus said it to his audience then, and he says to you now, “Stop coming to me for the benefits! Come to me for life! Come to me so that all your desires and longings can be fulfilled in me, not in something created — something that’s going to rot and rust and fade and die. You want to be satisfied? Food, football, TV, sex, and money won’t do it. But I will, if you would just come.”
To be continued.