By Daniel Bobinski
What do we make of the comment by Jesus in the sixth chapter of John, verse 35, where He says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” That’s quite an analogy, and quite a claim. Let’s unpack it.
First off, what do we know about bread? We know it’s been around since before each of us was born, because bread is one of the oldest-made foods on earth. For millennia it’s been a staple on most continents, and it’s considered a basic for sustenance. Think of prisoners surviving on bread and water alone.
Just like bread is a basic food that can sustain life in our physical bodies, Jesus sustains our spiritual bodies. But a difference exists. When we eat physical bread, we eventually get hungry again. But that doesn’t happen in heaven. Jesus told them straight up: “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”
This doesn’t mean we will never run out of food to eat. It means we will never go hungry.
I am reminded of the testimonies of several people who have died physically, went to heaven, and were sent back. The testimony of Dean Braxton comes to mind specifically. (If you’ve not heard Dean’s testimony, multiple videos of his experience in heaven can be found on YouTube – and for multiple reasons I believe his story.) People have asked Braxton what kind of food people eat in heaven. His response has always been that there is no need to eat in heaven because Jesus sustains you. “You aren’t hungry,” Braxton says.
Braxton says you can eat if you want to, but there’s no need to eat because you just don’t get hungry in heaven.
This aligns perfectly with John 6:35 – whoever comes to me will never go hungry.
But we also need to read John 6:35 in context. This verse comes immediately after 5,000 people were fed with only five loaves of bread and two fishes (John 6:1-21). Afterwards, Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat and landed in Capernaum. The next day the crowds arrived in Capernaum and asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was the Messiah.
As if feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes wasn’t enough.
Jesus’ response is what we read in John 6:35: “I am the Bread of Life.”
Not thinking spiritually, the crowd asked for clarification. Stymied by worldly and short-sighted thinking, many did not figure out what He was saying and decided they weren’t going to follow Him.
They didn’t understand that their nourishment the previous day just appeared before them, seemingly out of nowhere. They didn’t realize that it was being provided by the Most High, and that by Jesus telling them that HE was the Bread of Life, He was giving them an analogy. Once in heaven they would be provided for in the same way. They would never need to work again to have sustenance. It would be provided for them seemingly out of nowhere from God’s abundance.
It had been less than 24 hours since He fed them in that miraculous way, but when Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life,” they were thinking physically. They weren’t thinking spiritually.
Your Favorite Meal: Think about it. When you sit down to your favorite meal after not eating for a while and you eat your fill, you become physically satisfied. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy the feeling of being full. You no longer have a desire for physical food because your needs have been met.
Similarly, when we are in our spiritual bodies in heaven, we will feel full and satisfied. Always. It will be permanent.
The Process of Making Bread: There is one more aspect of bread I’d like to cover here, metaphorically speaking. On earth, bread is made by crushing wheat or some other grain into a type of flour, mixing it with water or other ingredients, and then baking it in an oven.
The “bread” doesn’t officially become bread until its basic ingredients have been crushed and then submitted to the flames. Only after it comes out of the oven is it called bread.
Similarly, on earth, each of us endures hardships and difficulties that can be, at times, crushing. It’s not like everything in our lives just falls into line and becomes all rosy once we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and become born again. Quite the contrary. One need only look at the example of Paul in the book of Acts to see that he suffered greatly as he was refined and molded by God into being a bold witness.
With that in mind, let me ask you to remember the opening verses in the book of James (James 1:2-4): “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Rather than get discouraged by life’s trials and tribulations, we can count it all joy. After all, Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 19, that those of us who are born again are being “conformed to the image of His Son.”
Jesus endured trials. And so will we.
As one person told me, “When we, as Christians, go through life’s trials, we shouldn’t fret. It’s just God baking up some delicious bread.”
Regardless of whether that analogy resonates with you, you can still take comfort in what Jesus told us. He said that He is the Bread of Life, and whoever comes to Him will never go hungry.
That’s an eternal promise that we can all look forward to.
Daniel Bobinski, Th.D., is an award-winning and best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at [email protected] or (208) 375-7606.