Bread from Heaven!
George Everard, 1868
"Jesus said unto them: I am the Bread of life; he who comes to Me shall never hunger; and he who believes on Me shall never thirst." John 6:35
Jesus was ever as faithful in His rebukes — as He was gracious and tender in His consolations. A crowd flock around Him. They do not come with a desire to hear His words, or to follow Him as their Master. They come only in hopes of temporal advantage. Nor does this escape His observation: "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." John 6:26-27
He then, in answer to their inquiry, bids them believe on Him, as that which above all things the Father requires.
In their unbelief, they ask a sign. Forgetful of that marvelous exhibition of Divine power which they had of late witnessed in the feeding of the five thousand, they speak of Moses giving them manna in the desert, and would have Christ manifest some similar proof of His power. Jesus does not grant their request, but reminds them of that other bread which the Father was now giving, and that of which all other was but the type and shadow: "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." John 6:32-33
Taking the words in a mere natural sense, they ask that they may receive this: "Lord, evermore give us this bread." Then Jesus points to Himself: "Earthly bread I have already given you; but for the nourishing of your souls you must feed on Me. I am the Bread of life; I am the living Bread that came down from Heaven — if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever."
It is evident that human hearts are tormented by unsatisfied longings, and cravings after a good which they never find. If the most excellent creatures that God has made were all combined, they could never make the boast, "I have satisfied one soul." One height gained, is but to open out the vision to one still higher. One blessing granted, only makes it plain that something still better must be given before Paradise be regained. Hence the confession of the one who above all had made the experiment: "Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" Hence the sorrowful complaint of the Prophet: "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"
Wisdom's children have discovered the secret: there is satisfaction, but it is only in God.
"As the deer pants after the water-brooks — so pants my soul after You, O God."
"My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water."
"O satisfy us early with Your mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."
"He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
"My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips; when I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the night watches."
It has pleased the Father that in Jesus should be laid up the fullness which can meet all our desires. For this reason does He speak of Himself as the Bread of life, and gives the assurance that whoever comes to Him shall never hunger; and he who believes on Him shall never thirst.
In His atoning death, is the satisfaction of the sin-defiled conscience. The conscience enlightened to discern anything of the true character of sin is evermore oppressed by a sense of wrong doing, and this before God. It accuses the soul perpetually of transgression against a holy law, and wearies itself to find means of pacifying the just displeasure of the Almighty.
But when the Spirit reveals Christ, the conscience finds rest. The one sacrifice perfected by Him on Calvary becomes the ground of hope. The self-condemned transgressor, owning his exceeding guiltiness, ceasing any longer to seek for peace in his worthiness, his best doings, his most religious feelings or dispositions — draws near to the Mercy-seat with this alone as his all-sufficient plea: "I merit everlasting exclusion from the presence of Jehovah; my iniquities have shut the door of the kingdom against me — but Jesus, by His crucified body, by His riven side, by His most precious blood, has made for me a new and living way, by which with boldness I can approach the throne." My sins deserve eternal damnation — but Jesus died for me.
The fearful spirit now receives a joyful liberty; the trembling soul comes back, like Noah's dove, to the ark of rest — a Father's bosom, and a Father's love.
Thus does the soul by faith eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. The crucified body of the Redeemer becomes the nourishment and satisfaction of the inner man.
Christ is also the satisfaction of the human intellect. "In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Is not the knowledge of the High and Holy One, who inhabits eternity — the very highest that can be attained? It may be interesting to find history in the earth's strata, or in the changes that take place in a language, or to discover the laws that regulate mind or matter — but is it not something far beyond this to learn, though it can be but a little, of the ways and works of the Creator, of the mind of Him in whom we live and move and have our being?
And where can we gain this but in Christ, in His Person as the Incarnate Son, in His holy and loving character, in the salvation which He accomplished and in which all the Divine perfections were so marvelously exhibited? Where can we gain it but in that revelation made through Him, as the Great Prophet of His Church, and which points to Him as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End of all! All this cannot fail to impart, the more it is studied, the truest satisfaction to the believing soul.
"This is what the LORD says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD!" Jeremiah 9:23-24
Jesus Christ is the truest satisfaction of the deepest affection of which the heart of man is capable. Every person needs a heart on which he can repose. Yet where on earth can be found one upon which it is wise or safe to lean all our weight? The warmest human love has its limit, however sweet the consolation it may afford. It may fail us through the instability that is inherent in man, or it may fail through the separation that one day must take place. Even on the morning when the dream of years may be fulfilled, one sentence, "until death us do part," comes in to tell of a parting at last.
But who can trust too implicitly to the love and faithfulness of Christ? Where is the limit to that love which many waters cannot quench, which has a height and depth and breadth and length that none can scan or comprehend? What circumstances shall arise that will lead Him to forsake His own redeemed people? Infinite in its measure, eternal in its duration, the love of Christ never fails!
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:38-39
I need You, precious Jesus! I need a Friend like Thee;
A Friend to soothe and sympathize, a Friend to care for me:
I need the heart of Jesus, to feel each anxious care,
To tell my every need, and all my sorrow share!
Is any reader looking hither and thither for that which will still the restless desires of the soul? If you will . . .
seek it in a round of gaiety and dissipation;
seek it in the accumulation of wealth;
seek it in anything that is of earth —
then soul-famine, soul-starvation will be the sure result. There will be within a fearful void, a deep of wretchedness that no words will be able to express.
But on the other hand there is that peace, that hidden manna of heavenly consolation in the Friend of sinners, that can satisfy to the very utmost. Only ponder that which is revealed of Him, only by faith take hold of His promise, and cleave fast to Him — and your confidence will not be disappointed.
A young Brahmin, a teacher of English in a school at Santipore in India, became very restless and uneasy in mind. He scarcely knew why it was, but he felt something was lacking, and something was wrong. For many months he wandered from shrine to shrine, seeking peace but finding it not. He came back to Santipore, but soon again left it on the same errand. To him it was not Santipore, the city of peace, as the word expresses, but the city of untold distress.
He came one day upon a strange missionary, who was preaching Christ to a crowd of hearers. Rammoy longed for peace, but he hated the Prince of peace, so he stood up and opposed the missionary. The servant of Christ bore with him with all meekness, reasoned with him, and finally lent him a copy of the New Testament. The entrance of the Word gave light. He read, pondered, wondered, believed. Thus he expressed the consolation that it brought to him: "I gazed upon the cross of Christ, and as I gazed, the ponderous load fell off my heart!" At Calcutta a few months afterward, together with his young wife, he was admitted into the Church of Christ.
Such is the peace, the heart-satisfying rest, which the anxious soul may find in Jesus. And it is the Holy Spirit working faith in Christ, leading the inquirer to take His promises and confide in them, by which the blessing is brought near.
It has been already implied, but it needs to be plainly stated, that only by faith can anyone feed on the Bread of life. Again and again does our Lord repeat it, that to come to Him and believe in Him is the means whereby the soul is satisfied, and whereby eternal life is obtained. Since then He tells us in another verse that unless we eat His flesh, and drink His blood, we have no life in us, He must still refer to faith in Himself as the means of doing this.
Hence the great importance of the Holy Communion. Christ has appointed it for this very purpose, that by the remembrance of His dying love our faith in Him may be quickened. It is a time when we may look for the Holy Spirit to draw our thoughts and desires heavenward, and kindle a flame of hope and love.
Look down in love, and from above
With Your Spirit satisfy
You have sought me, You have bought me,
And Your purchase, Lord, am I.
Let me find Thee — let me find Thee
Here on earth, and there on high.
No other prayer to You I bear,
O my Lord, but only this,
To show Your grace, to see Your face,
And to know Your people's bliss.
Let me find Thee — let me find Thee,
Thee to find is blessedness!