The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John.
The next day, when the people who remained after the feeding of the five thousand saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
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 6:24-35)
A couple of years ago, there was news of a new discovery in Egypt. A large sarcophagus made of granite, measuring nine feet long and weighing sixty tons was discovered. It was thought that it may be the tomb of Alexander the Great.
And just last week, archaeologists announced they had unearthed a 3,000-year-old “lost golden city” in the southern city of Luxor, a discovery that could be the biggest since the discovery of the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen.
We have heard or read over the years of other tombs being discovered, and sarcophagi being opened, perhaps the most famous being that of Tutankhamen
There are often beautiful things found, which indicate the wealth and importance of the occupant.
Of course, as we know, wealth and fame don’t protect you from disease, or accidents, or being killed in war, or just old age and death.
Some objects even after thousands of years ,do survive however and yield some interesting discoveries. You can find such objects in museums, where we can all see and enjoy looking at them.
Also found, have been sealed jars with various substances inside. Some containing seed – wheat seeds – sealed away for three thousand years.
Three thousand years !
Out of curiosity, some scientists planted some of those wheat seeds, and surprisingly, they sprouted and plants grew.
The powerful and wealthy died, but the little seeds, lying dormant, for so long, still carried the spark of life within them.
It seems that the inclusion of wheat seeds, among others in those tombs told of the importance attached to preparing the deceased person for the afterlife, and the belief that bread would be required in that afterlife.
They also knew the importance of bread in this life.
You can live for a long time nourished solely by bread and water.
Don’t they say that was what prisoners in some prisons were fed? Bread and water.
It might have kept them alive, but a diet like that was sure be an incentive to escape.
Bread is important to life.
Jesus claimed that he was the bread of life.
In other words he was important to life.
The people he had fed at that miraculous feeding of thousands, brought others to follow him, expecting food, again.
He wanted them to strive for spiritual food, however, and in so doing presented himself as the bread of life.
He was, and is important – nay essential – to spiritual life.
Believe on Jesus and his death and resurrection – and live – we are told.
And assured of eternal life.
Believing in Jesus Christ is accepting that he came from God, died on the cross in atonement for our sins, rose from the dead, and lives with the Father in Heaven.
The men and women who believed this, accomplished marvelous deeds in his name, much more that they could have dreamt of.
There is an imagined fable, that has Jesus returning to Heaven, and being asked by an angel, ” Do you feel you have made a difference down there? ” and Jesus answering,” I hope I have.”
And on being asked whom did he leave behind to continue his work, he replied, ” Peter, John and James and Andrew, Thomas and a few others.
And the angel asking, ” Will they be enough do you think?”
And Jesus saying,” I don’t know, but they are all I have, “
And those believers, having the essence of Christ in them, – having the bread of life in them – accomplished awesome deeds, and spread his name throughout the world.
We – you and I – are here today because of those who realised that Jesus was as essential to their spiritual life as bread was to their daily life, and acted accordingly, sometimes in the face of extreme danger.
Two thousand years after that motley crew set out to tell the world about Jesus, the fruit of the seeds they planted is visible here today.
So where are we today?
What do we see as essential in Christ Jesus, for life today, and for life eternal?
I can’t give you a definitive theological answer to that question, but I can give you the story of a personal experience.
After going through a time of extreme turbulence in my life, and coming to the conclusion that God didn’t seem to care; didn’t answer prayer; left me on my own; I tried to leave Christ out of my life.
To go it alone.
But it was not possible.
It wasn’t possible for me to go on, alone.
I needed Christ in my life.
I needed that essential element.
I needed something, someone, to hold onto, to bring me through the dark night.
I needed that spiritual bread, as much as or more, than any sort of daily sustenance.
We all know when we need to eat when we are hungry – but we may forget that we need spiritual sustenance.
We could be living a life that needs spiritual sustenance, and not realise it.
Some clues could be:
A feeling that prayer is not answered.
A sense of futility.
A feeling that the evil in the world can never be conquered.
Disappointment that God doesn’t do what we want Him to do for us.
“Working hard” for Jesus, and not seeing results.
Watching bad people prosper while you can’t seem to get ahead.
Experiencing an erosion of faith.
Finding yourself judging others.
If any of this rings a bell for you, then don’t despair. Many have felt that way. Even great minds. Great philosophers, even.
However with Christ, with the bread of life, it is marvelous what can be overcome.
A great singing voice in the Christian church in America, a man by the name of Bill Mann, told about the most special concert of his life.
It was after that evening’s concert was over, and he returned to his dressing room.
Waiting there for him was a woman who was blind, deaf and mute. Through the lady who was with her, she asked if he would sing for her the last song he had sung in the concert.
“Surely” he said.
And as she stood five inches from his face, her fingers lightly touching his lips and his vocal chords, he sang again, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
As he finished singing, a tear trickled down the face of Helen Keller, Indistinctly, she said, as the words were repeated by the lady with her,” I was there!”
Deaf, blind and mute from birth, you might say, ” Isn’t that too much for one individual to bear?”
No, as a matter of fact.
Of all the women in the nation there was probably no contemporary who gave more insight into the meaning of suffering than Helen Keller – or more insight into the love of God or the power of Christ to overcome so much.
Bread of Heaven on thee we feed, for thy flesh is food indeed; ever may our souls be fed with this true and living bread, day by day with strength supplied through the life of him who died.
Amen, and Amen.