//There are seven “I Am statements of Christ in the book of John. This is the first.//
They had traveled for weeks, their anxiety growing as the food slowly dwindled. Wilderness surrounded them on every side. At first it was just quiet whispers – “What happens when the food runs out?” But as the food supply got lower and lower, the voices grew louder. “What are we doing?” “Why did Moses bring us here?” “Would that we had died in Egypt!”
God heard their cries and their grumbling; and He had compassion. “At evening,” Moses told the people, “you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD.” That evening quail covered the ground and the tents; the smell of roasting meat permeated the camp. And the next morning, bread from heaven lay like frost on the sand.
It was millennia later that a carpenter’s Son stepped onto a mountainside. From five barley loaves, He produced enough bread to feed thousands upon thousands. Standing there on that mountainside with dusk falling, the Passover drawing near, wind off the sea of Galilee tugging at their cloaks, they remembered. They remembered the manna that had fed their ancestors, and they remembered Moses’ promise, that the Lord would raise up a Prophet like him; One who would speak God’s own words. “It’s Him,” they whispered. “It’s the Prophet!” And then you could hear the cries – “Crown Him! Crown Him king!”
But this Prophet was greater than Moses; He had a higher purpose. Moses had given the Israelites manna from heaven, but now the Father had given the true Bread, Bread which came down out of heaven to give life to the world. God Himself, the second person of the Trinity incarnate, had come to raise us from our graves and give us life. The manna satisfied for a time, but those who ate it would hunger again. It nourished for years in the wilderness, but even so, all who ate of it would die; Moses and Korah, Joshua and Achan, all perished eventually. But here is the Bread of which we may eat – and never die.
He would give His flesh as life for the world. His body and blood were the true food and drink. We must believe. We must eat and drink.
But for bread to be eaten, it must first be broken.
It was the evening of the Passover, two years later. Jesus ate alone with His disciples in an upper room; Judas had already gone out. Jesus broke the bread and handed it to the men who were still confused by the announcement of His impending betrayal. “This is my body,” He said. “Do this in remembrance of me.”
I doubt they were thinking about His words the next day, as they watched the incarnate Son of God cry out in agony. But this is the sacrifice – this is the Bread that gave us life.
The Bread of life could not stay in the grave. He rose victorious; and, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day.”
//Scripture quoted/referenced – Exodus 16:1-15; John 6:1-15, 29-35, 47-58; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 12:23-24. All quotes NASB.//