Hungry for Bread
Scripture: John 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
I struggle with Jesus’s words here. Never be hungry? Really Jesus?
As I serve at local food pantries and soup kitchens, I hear repeatedly the stories of neighbors who are hungry. Chronic illness, lay-offs, car repairs – it only takes a minor incident to make putting bread on the table a challenge.
At some soup kitchens, the practice is to preach to the crowd before they are allowed to eat. Each time I hear this passage I can’t help but wonder, how would I receive the gospel story if I were hungry, if I did not know when I would eat again?
Perhaps some of the people following Jesus grumbled about his message because they were hungry. “Who does this guy think he is? Bread of life? I need some bread in my stomach.”
In this moment Jesus speaks to both our physical and spiritual need for food. The two are never separate. Consider these words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
"I don't preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn't say, 'Now is that political or social?' He said, 'I feed you.' Because the good news to a hungry person is bread."
Prayer: Bread of Life, feed us each day. Give us our daily bread. Make us slow to speak and eager to listen to the stories of our neighbors. May our desire to preach the gospel be tempered may your call to feed the hungry. Amen.
Jennifer M. Manis