Lenten Devotional, Feb. 28 - by Guy Gullikson

“I AM the bread of Life” – John 6:48

My grandmother Emily Gullickson was a great baker. Whenever we would drive up to Fargo to visit, she would have freshly baked bread ready for us to eat, and the only thing better than the aroma in her kitchen was applying butter to the finished product and taking a bite. To this day I have sought, in vain, to find bread that smells and tastes as good as her’s did. Thank you, Grandma; we did not know how good we had it back then. Although these days we might not think of bread as our main food, the people in first century Israel certainly thought so. They may have had bits of fruits and meats or fish to go with the bread, if times were good; but bread was the food that separated hunger from fullness, and gave them the energy to live and work and play another day. When Jesus fed the 5,000 plus people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He chose to provide them with bread and fish—a real luxury lunch! Can you imagine the flavor of that heavenly bread? These same people sought Him out the next day in the temple at Capernaum, dropping not too subtle hints about seeing another miracle, this one also involving dinner. Instead, Jesus serves up a little Isaiah 55:1-2. “Do not labor for food that perishes; labor for food which endures to everlasting life.” He says, paraphrasing Himself from the Old Testament. The crowd replies, “Lord, give us this bread always.” Now, He drops the bomb, telling the crowd, “I Am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” In two perfect little sentences, Jesus explains both His true identity, and His purpose in coming to earth. “I Am” is “ego eimi” in the Greek, translated from the Hebrew, and means “I, myself, am.” This is the same phrase used in Exodus 3:14 when God told Moses what His name was; therefore, every Jew in the crowd knew for certain that Jesus was not only calling Himself God, but also describing Himself as the bread which came down from heaven, so that all who believe in Him would have everlasting life. This was, as many of His disciples complained, “a hard saying, who can understand it?” Most of His followers turned their backs on Him that day. Jesus even asked His special twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Leave it to Peter to provide this beautiful timeless answer: “ Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Dear Lord, thanks and praise to You for coming down from heaven and for being the bread of life for all believers. Amen.