Isn’t all bread important for life? In our culture of mega food marts it is easy to forget about impoverished people for whom a meager allotment of rice or grain truly is a matter of life and death. Since people need food to survive, we can easily receive Jesus’ self-designation as a metaphor. Indeed, Jesus is the food we eat, just as He is the air we breathe. Without Him we could not find the strength to continue.
Yet, this bread is more than an inspiring figure of speech. Jesus isn’t just similar to the food that keeps our bodies from wasting away. He is life itself. In the beginning, as an eternal member of the Godhead, He breathed into our ancestor Adam’s nostrils, and he became a living being. Then He formed Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs and she became the mother of all who would come afterward. The scriptures suggest Gnostic elements in the early church attempted to undermine Jesus’ role in creation and relegate Him to something less. In response the Apostle Paul wrote, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17)
If, hypothetically, Jesus were to cease to exist, so would we. So would everything. Since the notion of eternity would disappear with Him, so would our past and future. There would be no way, no truth and no life. There would be no “be” for all reality would end.
I don’t mean to suggest Jesus’ role as our “bread of life” is limited to physical life, but we must understand the scope of the matter. His place in our life begins with life itself. Once we grasp the significance of this truth it makes more sense to speak of spiritual life and death and the hunger and thirst for righteousness that draws us to it.