The gospel of John is one big book of metaphors. Today highlights one of the central ones: I am the Bread of Life. It was not Moses who gave the people bread from heaven, but God. “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world,” Jesus said.
“Give us this bread!” the disciples respond.
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.” These series of “I AM” statements in John explore the identity of a Messiah that we are only beginning to know in the 6th chapter of John. The richness of his identity is confounding and complex. It is mysterious and deep. Almost exclusively though, it emphasized Jesus’ role as the true giver of life.
We discover in this gospel that Jesus is more than just a nice guy – more than a great rabbi – more than a prophet. Jesus is someone very special – the Messiah – but more so, a Messiah we did not expect. Here in John’s gospel, he is both expanding and turning on its head the expected role many thought the Messiah would take.
Wrapped in this idea of being the bread of life, there are three verbs which seem to interconnect. Coming to Jesus, seeing and believing seem to be essential keys. This too expands the metaphor. It is not enough to just “eat” the Bread of Life (such as at Communion), but that we must see and believe this Bread.
This open the imagination. Believe how? Believe what he says? Believe what he does? Believe in the signs? The works? This is what makes the metaphor good. We are left to ponder it in our own hearts – play with the possibilities of how God is at work in our imaginations, indeed in our very lives.
May the richness of John’s Gospel wash over you. May you find depth to the love that Christ has for you, and may it radiate forth into your day, that through Christ you may be life and bread and hope for others.