Growing up there were two toys I always THOUGHT I wanted, but never got. These toys looked awesome in TV commercials and on the pages of the JC Penny Christmas catalog. They were always surrounded by boys about my age looking like they had just won the lottery. What were these toys? The tabletop electronic football game, and the electronic slot race tracks.
They looked awesome, so I often asked for them for Christmas, or birthday, or whatever. However, I never got them. Why? Because I did not have parents who loved me? No. I did not get them because I DID have parents who loved me, and understood that these gifts were not all they were cracked up to be. They both promised happiness in a flashy package, but they did not deliver the lasting enjoyment that other gifts would.
The tabletop electronic football game (after all) was just a vibrating board. The slot race track was only fun the first time around. After the initial excitement of opening the package, disappointment would almost surely soon follow.
In John 6, Jesus was reaching new heights in popularity. He had just fed thousands of people and performed a number of other miracles that demonstrated His power and compassion. People were flocking to Him from throughout the Galilean region. Every time Jesus and the disciples would bring their boat ashore, a crowd was waiting for them. One day as Jesus went ashore, the congregation was asking Him to do more miracles. They had eaten the lunch at the feeding of the 5,000 and now had come back for seconds. They said to Jesus, “Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness.” The implication … God provided food EVERY DAY to the Israelites in the wilderness. So, they were saying to Jesus, “If you are really from God, then give us DAILY bread and fish, like God did during the days of Moses.”
Jesus response is classic. A summary of His response goes like this, “You want bread and fish … but I want to give you something even greater! I want to give you a ‘bread’ that is truly life giving.” The people respond saying, “YES!! We want that! Can you give us this bread ALWAYS?” To which Jesus responds with the iconic statement, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Jesus did not give the people of Galilee another meal of bread and fish BECAUSE He loved them. They thought they knew what they wanted, but God knew what they REALLY wanted, and (more importantly) needed. They needed Him, not just fish and loaves. They needed Someone to fill their souls, not just something to fill their stomachs. The One who would truly satisfy their deepest thirsts and hungers was Jesus Christ Himself, the “One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
We think we know what we want, so we ask for it. We want happiness and joy so (like a child looking at the JC Penny Christmas catalog) we ask for the relationships, things, or experiences we think that will best deliver these emotions. What are you asking for this Christmas?
Our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and receives our wish list … our Christmas catalogs filled with circled items we desire. As our loving Father, thankfully, He does not just give us what we ask for. Instead He gives us what we desperately need … a real relationship with Him and the soul nourishing provision that comes from a relationship with Jesus.
He is the bread of life. And if we receive Him, He can satisfy our deepest hungers and greatest thirsts eternally.
“I am the Bread of Life” is the first revelatory “I am” statement Jesus made, further revealing His divine identity to us
This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.” You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.