“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”Jn. 6:35
Jesus’s first miracle was changing water into wine. The only miracle recorded in all four gospels is the feeding of the 5,000. In each instance, God is extravagant in his blessings. Together, these miracles foreshadow communion and the connection to the body and blood of Christ. Jesus equates himself with bread and living water throughout the gospel of John. He is there to meet our needs.
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 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. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38 for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
When we were newly married, my husband and I attended a church that was thousands of miles away from home while he went to graduate school. We truly felt like aliens. Week after week we sat in the back pew watching the congregation participate in communion, afraid to go forward because we were not members and we didn’t know the rules. Yet, we continued to attend every Sunday because we were nourished by the music and the sermon. One Sunday my husband spoke with the pastor as we were leaving the church. It was the first time we had been noticed and he asked about the graduate program and learned that we were members of another Lutheran church in Canada. “You are welcome to come to communion. We practice “close” communion here.” The next Sunday we went forward at his invitation and received the “body and blood” of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was never a more meaningful moment than being invited into the “close” family.
All those attending the wedding at Cana or sitting on the hillside of Galilee were invited to participate in the miracle of wine and bread. Once separated from God, he made his abundant blessings overflow to all who came. Their hunger and thirst was satisfied, both physically and spiritually. Scripture tells us that there were 12 baskets left over at the end of the picnic on the hill, and the wine at the wedding never ran out.
The miracles transformed a crowd into a community. The message: “Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away. . .This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” Those who came to Jesus received much more than they expected. The physical was linked to the spiritual for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. He draws us “close” in the community of faith.
Lord, thank you for inviting us to come to you. We are hungry and thirsty for a more abundant life. You draw us into your family and generously offer us eternal life. We accept your grace. Amen