“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35
“Bread of Life? Jesus lived up to the title. But an unopened loaf does a person no good. Have you received the bread? Have you received God’s forgiveness?” Max Lucado
- Grab your Bible, journal and a snack—you’ll need stamina for this chapter!
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through your study.
- Read John 6. Write John 6:35 in your journal and memorize it.
Now, you’re ready to partake…
Jesus, the Bread of Life: Sustenance for the Spirit
As mothers, we are often so preoccupied with nurturing others that we forget to feed ourselves. How many times have you reached the end of the day, lying in bed, and you feel your stomach rumbling, only to realize you’ve either forgotten to eat or have only picked at random samplings of mac & cheese or mushy melba toast? Nourishing ourselves is just as important as nourishing others; otherwise, we not only leave our bodies vulnerable to illness, but our spirits vulnerable to doubt and fear. Today’s study will illustrate our need for spiritual food.
Today you are receiving instruction and sustenance directly from the source—Jesus, the Bread of Life. You read John chapter 6, a chapter in the Gospels that is packed with key events—miracles, even—plus some “hard teachings.”
Let’s begins today’s nourishing meal with a recap of the events in John chapter 6:
- Multitudes of people are following Jesus and His twelve disciples around to listen to His teachings, and—let’s be honest—witness His miracles. Many are interested in Jesus merely as spectators at a sporting event who, once the spectacle is over, put away their fan gear and zeal until the next event.
- Yet, Jesus is the perfect, patient Rabbi or teacher. Jesus understands that His followers and disciples have difficulty believing unless they see for themselves. So, Jesus sets up His lesson with a miracle: He bows his head to pray and give thanks, then turns an inadequate five loaves and two fish into baskets full enough to feed more than five thousand people! Jesus, in effect, gives them a very literal example of the “bread of life.” Amazed by what they witness, the people start speculating about making Jesus king, but Jesus, knowing their intention is not the Father’s will, withdrew to the mountain.
- Later that evening, while the disciples were out on the water in a boat, Jesus actually walks on water to join them—but they freak out and don’t recognize Him! Jesus has to reassure them that he is in fact Jesus by saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Could it be that even Jesus’ closest followers still foolishly fear the unknown and still doubt who Jesus is?
- In the meantime, it doesn’t take long for the crowds to realize Jesus, the headliner to their main event, has left. Without even giving themselves time to digest or understand the more obvious fish and loaves bread-of-life lesson, they get into boats to follow Jesus, and then they demand more signs of who Jesus is!
- Jesus patiently attempts to make His bread of life lesson more clear. Jesus uses the example the people themselves brought up: The story of manna falling from heaven to feed God’s people in the wilderness (Exodus 16). Jesus then further explains, “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”(John 6:32). But the people insist that Jesus give them literal bread of God! Then Jesus clearly states: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35a).
- How does the crowd respond? They start grumbling, doubting that Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter, could have come down from heaven. At this point, knowing that not everyone who hears will believe, Jesus reiterates, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). The story continues with the Jews starting to fight among themselves, taking literally what Jesus said about eating His flesh and drinking His blood! Some of them walk away from Jesus, saying, “This is a hard teaching” (John 6:60a).
Jesus’ followers in John 6 clearly still don’t understand the lesson. They continue to live in fear and doubt. They continue to believe only what they see and understand in the physical realm, while allowing their spiritual being to thirst and hunger from lack of sustenance.
Jesus was trying to teach them that they were not just flesh and blood, but spirit, and that the spirit also needs sustenance—bread of life— in the form of Jesus Himself. If even the people who walked and talked and ate with Jesus doubted, feared and failed to understand, how much more prone are we to miss the real miracle; that the bread of life, Jesus, is our primary sustenance.
So how do we receive sustenance from Jesus?
- To receive sustenance, we must first believe. When fear and doubt creep in, I remind myself who Jesus is and declare it aloud.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
2. We receive sustenance through the Holy Spirit. When I am overwhelmed with fear or doubt, it’s usually because I have forgotten that I am not just flesh but also spirit. These verses remind me that the Holy Spirit guides and comforts me, Spirit to spirit.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you— they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17)
3. We receive sustenance through God’s Word. If I don’t take the time to read and reflect on God’s Word each day, I become more ditzy (than usual), my mind spinning like a compass with no bearings. God’s Word settles and focuses me on His promises.
Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
4. We receive sustenance through prayer. Sometimes my prayers are bold and daring or sometimes mere whispers as disjointed as my thoughts, but I know Jesus hears each one when I pray expectantly.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
When Jesus came as the Bread of Life, the earthly body broken on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, He was not just guaranteeing us passage from this physical world into eternity; Jesus was also providing us with enough nourishment—basketsful—to counteract the inevitable doubt and fear of
living on this side of heaven.
Dear mamas, just as you feed your body and your babies, you must also nourish your spirit in order to have enough spiritual food to sustain both you and your loved ones.
Feed yourselves to live and to give.
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- How are you doing at nurturing yourself in order to nurture your loved ones?
- What doubts or fears distract you from taking the time to nourish your spirit with the bread of life?
From the Questions to Ponder section above, write down one or two of those doubts or fears that distract you.
Next, write down a Scripture from this Bible study under each fear or doubt to help remind you to nourish yourself.
Lastly, pray aloud and/or write a prayer in your journal using the Scripture as a guide, and asking Jesus to help you with that distraction.
Fear: I am not competent enough to tackle all of my tasks.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Dear Jesus, help me to be joyful in all my tasks today; walk with me through them and give me strength and peace to finish them. I thank you for the gift of serving my family. Help me to focus on Your will today even in my busyness.
- Day 6: Jesus, the Bread of Life: Sustenance for the Spirit - March 7, 2019