17 October 2022

Jesus, the bread of life: are you satisfied?

Bible study by Captain Andrew Manley

Captain Andrew Manley reminds us that we only will be satisfied when we discover, believe and follow Jesus.

Key text

Lots of people have a ‘bucket list’, derived from the idiom ‘to kick the bucket’ – or, to put it another way, a list of things they would like to do, see or experience before they die.

My bucket list includes touring Canada, seeing the northern lights and, in retirement, owning dog kennels.

Why do so many of us have such a list? Is it that we want to satisfy some inner desire to experience events that will make an impression on us?

Pause and reflect

  • What do you have – or what would you have – on your bucket list?

In our study passage, we find Jesus giving a discourse on the ‘bread of life’. On the previous day, he had fed 5,000 people. Today, once again, crowds are pursuing him. They chase after Jesus in boats, crossing Lake Galilee in the process (see v24).

When they find him in Capernaum, Jesus starts by pointing out to his listeners that they are empty – they are constantly in need of satisfying some inner desire.

Referring to the previous day’s events, he says to them: ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill’ (v26).

A sourdough loaf with a cross scored on top

John 6:35

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’

Read the passage

In our haste to get through the day or week, do we sometimes focus our prayers on the wrong things, hoping they will satisfy us? Here, Jesus reminds us to look to him not only for our basic physical needs but also for our spiritual fulfilment.

Pause and reflect

  • What are some of your physical needs?
  • What are some of your spiritual needs?

Jesus’ listeners try to fathom what he is saying and ask: ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ (v28). I must admit that I can sympathise. At times, I just want to know what exactly is needed – what I have to do. I don’t want to have to work it out or solve a puzzle.

Jesus answers them: ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’ (v29). He speaks of himself – their Messiah, their Lord, their friend. While his audience is looking for a list of dos and don’ts and actions to take to satisfy their physical need, Jesus instead seeks to address their spiritual requirements – to believe in him and in his redemptive power.

Pause and reflect

  • Do you believe in Jesus? Can you explain to someone exactly what it is you believe about him and why?

As members of the crowd battle with their thoughts and beliefs about who Jesus is, they refer to the Torah – the writings of Moses.

In Exodus 16, we find the story of the Israelites wandering around the desert very much battling with a physical need for food. They cried out to Moses: ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted.’

Despite all their grumblings, God’s compassionate response was: ‘I will rain down bread from Heaven for you’ (Exodus 16:3 and 4). The story ends with the Israelites being fed in order to satisfy their physical hunger but not their spiritual needs.

Pause and reflect

  • Have there been times when you have found yourself grumbling at God and, suddenly, he gives you exactly what you need?

In our study passage, Jesus reminds his listeners that spiritual needs are satisfied not by Moses or any other human hand but by our Father above. He declares: ‘I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (v35).

We will never be satisfied until we discover, believe and follow Jesus.

In his Confessions, Saint Augustine wrote: ‘Thou madest us for thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in thee.’ This is perhaps Saint Augustine’s most quoted phrase. It captures something that resonates deep within the human soul.

In On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature, CS Lewis spoke of his own dissatisfaction with life when he wrote: ‘You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.’

Are you spiritually satisfied? If not, what will you do about it?

Bible study by

Andrew Manley

Captain Andrew Manley

Corps Officer, Kirkcaldy

Let's pray

Lord Jesus, we praise you! You are the Bread of Life come down from Heaven that gives life to the world.


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