Jesus often introduced Himself using figures of speech. In the Gospel of John alone, He introduced Himself as the bread of life, the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the door, the good shepherd, and more. What a rich display of various aspects of the person of Christ!
Each of these pictures was meant to cast upon the backdrop of the human mind a sense of who Jesus is relative to our spiritual need. All you need is to understand what the need is in natural life, and you can draw a line to what the equivalent is in spiritual life.
In order to illustrate this, I want us to consider the first one—“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). What do you think Jesus was teaching us about Himself by using this picture? I think that He was teaching us that He alone truly satisfies us at our most basic level.
The context in which Jesus spoke these words was the feeding of the five thousand from a few loaves of bread. It was a miracle. The result of this was that the crowd He fed followed after Him when he crossed the sea, walking on the water. They wanted more bread.
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” Jesus said. Surely, there had to be some similarity between their earlier experience of eating ordinary bread and their potential spiritual experience of Jesus.
It must be the fact of satisfaction at a most basic level. Bread is basic to our human existence. It is not like our hunger for acceptance by others, for education, cell phones and tablet computers, and so on. Hunger for food is something you must satisfy or die. It is basic. So it is with Christ. Once we have Him, we go to heaven. Without Him we all go to hell.
Bread is also very fulfilling. When you are really hungry, you can be tempted to eat a live frog. But once you are satisfied, you can turn down your favorite food. This is what Jesus means by the phrase “Whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Once you have found Christ—or better still, once Christ has found you—you will never seek spiritual fulfilment anywhere else. He becomes your all in all. He satisfies your mind, your heart, and your conscience. Jesus really satisfies.
Even when you are surrounded by poverty, failure, sickness, and death, you will not go elsewhere in order to bear such trying times. You will find your aspirations fully met in Christ. As the hymn writer says, “With Christ in the vessel, I can smile at the storm.”
Another reason why bread is an apt illustration of Jesus is that just as you can only profit from bread by eating it, so also you can only benefit from Christ’s death and resurrection by trusting in Him. Knowledge is not good enough. You must trust in Him.