David began our new summer series – The Born Identity – by reminding us how he finished our studies in Luke last Sunday: ‘May we continue to follow and fix our eyes on Jesus’.
This new series continues the focus on expanding and deepening our understanding of who Jesus is and explaining and appreciating why He is worth following and worth fixing our eyes upon.
In today’s reading, a crowd of thousands of people – whom Jesus had miraculously fed with just two fish and five loaves the day before – follow him to Capernaum.
John 6: 25-35 narrates the conversation that ensues, where Jesus makes an astonishing statement regarding His identity. Referring to the essential, accessible, staple, much-loved food that is bread, Jesus says:
This is the first of the seven (eight, by some counts) ‘I AM’ sayings of Jesus in John’s gospel (see box at the end for the full list). Our summer series will look at each of these metaphors.
The first two words here – ‘I AM’ – are highly significant and somewhat controversial, because they echo the covenant name of God. Jesus appears to be claiming, or making another claim, to deity. David explained how this brings us to the often overlooked eighth ‘I AM’ statement in John 8:
This saying angered Jesus’ listeners to the point where they picked up stones to kill Him!
In these ‘I AM’ statements Jesus is revealing and confirming that He is God, the Eternal one, ‘the word … became flesh, [living] among us’.
As David reminded us, whenever Jesus says, ‘I AM’, He means He still is and always will be.
Jesus knew precisely what was going on in the heads and hearts of the crowd who sought him in Capernaum. It wasn’t the miracle that spurred them across the lake; it was the fact they got a free meal. They wanted the temporary satisfaction of their physical needs met and the spiritual and eternal weren’t really an issue.
Jesus tells the crowd that food that doesn’t last won’t satisfy. Our priority and our focus cannot be just the physical and material. Instead of being consumed by our efforts for food that does not last and cannot satisfy, Jesus tells us to ‘work’ for food that is eternal.
The people ask for a sign – conveniently forgetting yesterday’s miracle – just as Moses gave their ancestors bread in the desert. Jesus corrects their faulty understanding:
The crowd ask where they can get this bread and Jesus replies:
Bread is essential to physical life; Jesus is essential to spiritual life – to real life.
To consume this ‘bread’, we just need to come and believe. This is the only ‘work’ required.
Come to Jesus – approach, follow, step forward, choose – and believe in Jesus. Trust who He is and who He says He is ‘… whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’. It’s the only way to have your hunger sated and your thirst quenched.
I AM – proclaims Jesus’ identity as the covenant God of Israel, who was, and is, and will be.
I AM the bread of life
I AM the light of the world
I AM the door
I AM the Good Shepherd
I AM the resurrection and the life
I AM the way, the truth and the life
I AM the true vine
Before Abraham was, I AM
The bread of life – essential for existence, for real life.
What are our priorities – physical needs and the here and now? Spiritual and eternal reality?
Come and believe – the only way to nourish our souls and have the real life Jesus offers.
Take time to give thanks for Jesus each time you eat bread this week.
Consider praying: ‘give us this day our daily Jesus’ as you pray the disciples’ prayer this week, remembering His call to ‘take up your cross’ daily.