After performing a miracle by feeding the 5,000 from just five loaves and two fish, Jesus went on to make one of his thinly veiled claims to divinity when he said ‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6:35). Jesus’ fellow Jews would see the use of the phrase ‘I am’, as a reference to God who, when speaking to Moses, referred to himself as ‘I am’. Jesus also links this claim with God’s provision of Manna for the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years, when they were able to collect just enough food each day to feed them for that day.
Bread would have been the staple diet for the people of the Middle East, and they would probably have understood very well what it meant to go hungry, as many still do today around the world. So when Jesus continues “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry”, he was making connections on many different levels: with their divine God, with the working of miracles and with their every day needs. Wonder to what extent Jesus is our staple diet today, the one without whom we literally cannot be fulfilled, and how much we have replaced the bread of life with a microwave dinner?
Jesus said something else in this conversation that is often overlooked. He said this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:44). In our search for God, to whom Jesus has said he is the way, it is the Father who draws us to Jesus. I find that both profound and encouraging, both form a personal point of view and also from a missional point of view.
From a personal perspective, isn’t it amazing to think that, for each of us who is a follower of Jesus, it is God the Father who has drawn us to Jesus, so that through him we could find forgiveness and the bread that sustains for eternity? And, from a missional point of view isn’t it encouraging that, for all those who we long to see as followers of Jesus, it is God the Father who is drawing them? We have a part to play as we witness both in our words and in our deeds, and in our prayers. But we are not on our own; God the Father is drawing them in and Jesus the Son will receive them and feed them.
Theophilus is the guy for whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’ so, if you love God, it was written for you!