March 1, 2020 | By Jay Ashbaucher
Jesus said the words of this article’s title when, after a 40-day fast, he was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread in order to satisfy his hunger, and prove to himself that he was God’s son. Instead of physical food alone, Jesus said that we live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). The Apostle John tells of a series of events where Jesus teaches on this subject (John 6). It all began with Jesus’s compassion to feed a large group of hungry people. Jesus, using a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, amazingly multiplied them into enough food to satisfy the thousands of people who came to hear him talk. There were a number of responses that came out of this event.
First, the people were reminded of what their scriptures foretold concerning a prophet they were to listen to when he came. Based on the miracle he just did, they were convinced he was that prophet.
Second, they wanted to take him and make him king to rule over them, to free them from an oppressive government, and provide for them a good and prosperous life. This was their picture of a Messiah who would one day come and accomplish these things to save them.
Third, knowing their intentions, Jesus withdrew from them and went elsewhere. They could not find him, so they began searching for him, soon to find him in a location some distance from where they were. At this point, Jesus probably offended them, saying they were seeking Him for the wrong reasons. In essence, he said that they were seeking him because they experienced how he satisfied their physical hunger and they only wanted him for the physical benefits he could supply. They believed he could give them a good life, meeting all their wants, needs, and wishes. They saw him as a government leader who would give them everything they wanted.
How much do we see this in our world today? In many places around the world people who are dissatisfied with their leaders cry out for a change in government. Such unrest often leads to fighting and sometimes even wars to overthrow those who fail to give them what they want. There is an increasing cry in America from a generation of people who feel entitled to a better life, people struggling to make ends meet. We want a government that can guarantee and satisfy our wants, needs, and wishes. Actually, we all want this, whether rich or poor. We all look to government as our savior, promising to fulfill our needs. It was no different in Jesus’ day. Good government was the answer to their problems. Why not? There is some truth to that.
However, Jesus tried giving the people a newer, bigger, and truer perspective. He told them not to work for material needs and wants that only get you so far and fail to meet real and unseen needs in the end. Work for what I (Jesus) can give you, the food that endures to an eternal kind of life, that which I came to give to all humankind. “The work of God”, said Jesus, “is to believe in him, the one God sent to you.”
The fourth thing that happens in John’s telling of the events is that people begin to ask Jesus questions. A discussion results in which Jesus declares that he is the bread of life, the one God sent from heaven to give life to the world. What follows are various responses to Jesus’s claims. Some who saw him perform his bread and fish miracle wanted more signs that he was speaking the truth. Jesus said, “You have seen me and yet you still do not believe.” Religious leaders listening to the conversations were upset with Jesus because they thought his claims were outrageous since he was only a man no different from them. Jesus proceeds to tell these people a real reason for their unbelief.
Again, Jesus tells listeners the truth about who he is and offers new life to all who believe in him. He stays with the analogy of eating food to satisfy their need for continued physical life, by using eating his flesh and drinking his blood as the way to experience spiritual life. At this statement, many former followers and certain others reject him and refuse to listen to him anymore. At the end of these events, after many had left him, he says to his close disciples, “Do you want to leave also?” “No”, they say, “who or what else can offer such a thing?” They would stick with him and keep learning. Jesus then explains the spiritual meaning of his words so that those who want to understand can do so.
It seems that people, including Christians, have misunderstandings about lots of things concerning Jesus and Christianity. We all tend to settle on our misunderstandings rather than to question and pursue a topic to learn the truth. Jesus must certainly know that the only people who will come to have the kind of life worth having are those who don’t quit when they hear something they don’t like or disagree with, but choose to pursue it to learn the truth. These are the ones who will be blessed with the results of their honest and sincere searching. We do not live on bread alone. What does that mean? Who cares to know?