Living Bread – Part One
(A gleaning from St. John 6)
by Fred Pruitt
I. The Crowd Mentality
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Jesus knew immediately they wanted to make Him king for the wrong reasons. They not only thought He would fill their bellies, basically solving their main problem in life – getting something to eat on a regular basis – but even more importantly, He would get rid of their brutal Roman oppressors, in their minds the main cause of all their problems! Not that He was unconcerned about their physical hunger, and certainly He must have witnessed first-hand the abusive ways of the Romans through all His earlier years. No doubt His parents had told Him of Herod’s plot and their flight into Egypt when He was an infant. He knew.
Just the day before, Jesus had fed the 5,000, prompted by the fact that they had not eaten and He knew they would be at risk for their journeys home if they set out hungry. Afterward, when the disciples boarded a boat to take them back across Lake Galilee, Jesus went off by Himself into the hills, something which the people who were left took note of. The next morning, when they remembered the disciples had left without Jesus, and there were no more boats available, they first thought Jesus was stuck on the same side of the lake they were. But when other boats appeared, and Jesus still had not shown up, the crowd decided they would go over to Capernaum, Jesus’ Galilee headquarters. Maybe He was there. (He had actually walked across the water to get to the disciples, for those who may not remember, but we’re not going to discuss that here.)
However, they were not going to get the answer they were looking for. Jesus did not come to fix flesh, nor to fix the flesh world. He knew the flesh world could not be fixed. He was not there to solve all its problems. This world had been unalterably corrupted when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden. Glorious though this world can be in the beauties of nature, the wonders of creation and even in the miracle of human life, it remains nevertheless a pale shadow of the Paradise that preceded it and theoretically, it could have been, had Adam and Eve stood fast in the trial. (But as I always say, the Lord has never said, “Oh my, I didn’t see THAT coming!” There has never been the necessity for the Lord to go to Plan B. Plan A is still proceeding without a hitch!)
But now, because of the Fall, everything of this creation must on one certain day pass away, as Peter told of the Day of the Lord, “in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Pet 3:10). That might seem like a great tragedy, or something to exceedingly fear. It is, for those whose lives are about nothing but the temporal and live only for themselves. But for those who seek the Lord, who seek love, truth, righteousness and mercy, it is the Day of the greatest rejoicing this universe has ever seen, because the old and corrupt passes away, that the new heavens and the new earth might be manifest in plain sight.
The healings and miracles Jesus did were misunderstood by the crowds in Judea, as well as the crowds in our day. They thought He was going to bring Paradise right then and there, in the flesh world. He was going to heal everyone’s bodies – so no more sickness (and no more doctor bills – or medical insurance)! He was going to cast out all the demons – so no more demon possession and/or mental illness! Everyone was going to have enough to eat – so no more starvation! There would be no more oppressors to abuse them – so no more worries about security! Basically, in our terms, in their minds Jesus was like the Perfect Politician-King, who (they thought) not only made promises to fix our world, fix our society, but unlike all other Politician-Kings, He could actually deliver! That is why they were seeking Him.
But Satan had already offered Jesus that chance, to rule the nations of the world, to express His agenda in the world, to do good in the world, if Jesus would only bow the knee to the Tempter. Jesus turned down the offer. Not only did He turn down that offer, but also the offer to make bread for Himself and possibly eventually for all the world by turning stones into bread. Then He turned down the offer to win over the people through theatrics – by a death-defying display of miraculous power, in front of all the people, boldly jumping off the highest place in the Temple, only to be miraculously caught up by angels who would bear Him gently to the ground! Who would not have declared Him to be the long-awaited Messiah on the spot?
It was like Satan was saying to Jesus: “Ok, so you want to be the Savior of the world? Well, first, you have to impress the people! What do they need? They need food; they need peace in their minds, and they need to know they are cared for, provided for and perfectly protected from all harm in the world. Now maybe You and Your Father do it one way in heaven, but this is my world, and I know how You can get done, what you want done, in my world! All you have to do is follow me, and I’ll give You what You want.”
Jesus didn’t buy that, but countless others have since! It is the core of all “religion” all over the world since the beginning of time. It is all of the flesh – of the earth – every bit of it! It could not be otherwise except that natural man could only have “natural” religion – he cannot see anything else, except that which is “of” this world. The flesh wants a show. A “show” serves as its tangible result and justification. The flesh wants pizazz, style, to be “with-it” – cool! Those of the flesh praise and do homage to one another over the impressiveness of their facades. The greater the facade, the greater the depth of nothingness and death within it, and greater are the accolades from the people of the world. The flesh seeks to save its life – it may sing the praises of “The Old Rugged Cross,” i.e., the outer historical Cross, but it will not allow the inner Cross to do its work, because that is death to the flesh. The flesh wants approval, and appearances are all in all.
Jesus knew all that, and He knew He had come to declare the day of the flesh to be over, and the day of the Spirit begun. But He also knew, that it would come by love completely from within, and not by imposition from without by any means. In other words, He was not there to change the traditions, or to attack the institutions directly, either of religion or the body politic. He was not leading a revolt, either of church or state.
Rather, He was bringing in a whole new kind of Life, Spirit Life. There have always been a few here and there in the world who knew the Spirit, for the Lord has never left Himself without a remnant. But through the Lord Jesus Christ, this Spirit Life permeates the world. (“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh!” Acts 2:17)
The promise to Abraham, the Seed of Abraham, took millennia to come to full term in the One Man Jesus of Nazareth. Through His broken and dead Body, pierced Side, and shed Blood, the Lord Jesus Christ, One Man, in the regeneration becomes as numerous as the stars in the heavens or the sands in the sea. Or as John witnessed in Revelation 7: “9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” All of those are born of the one Seed – the “seed of the woman,” in Gen 3:15! The Christ-seed!
The flesh world, He knew, would get along perfectly after He left, under the care of the Father, the Living Activity of the Spirit, as well as by His eternal intercession. He knew it would be kept going with patches and updates and small fixes until the fulness of its time. In that world, good and evil are doomed to continually contend with one another, each person under the constant judgment of every other person while each judges the ones who just judged him. On and on and on and on, from the days of Cain and Abel until now. Little judges, little gods.
However, because the world is like that, dog-eat-dog, those who seek something greater than the selfish-grasping that defines the world, somehow hear the Word within them, and come forth into the Light. The Father has drawn them, and somehow they were given hearing ears as well. They have recognized it in themselves, the restless death that would swallow us all, and have turned to the Father in some way for deliverance and translation into the Light. These are the times of gathering all the elect of God for the final Day. We are all, all of us in Christ – past, present and future – part of this same gathering, and continually look to the Lord’s increase both in the temporal and spiritual. “[We] must work the works of Him that sent [us], while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as [we are] in the world, [we are] the light of the world.” (John 9:4,5).
25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
“How did you get here?” That’s really what they wanted to know. And if He happened to have gotten there by another miracle – so much the better, because that would only strengthen their desire to make Him king. Who would not want a benevolent Superman to be our ever present king, provider and protector? Isn’t that what our politician-leaders seem to promise in our day, regardless of party? And do we not still look to them for those things?
6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Is it not interesting, that Jesus tells them they did not really see (grasp the real Truth of) the miracles, but that they were looking for Him for food’s sake!? Had they really “seen” the miracles – and they were not capable of it because they were all flesh-minded – they would have seen that they were also parables of the Kingdom, as much as the verbal parables were. Considering that, our minds lose focus on the mountainside in Galilee, marveling only that someone had come who could perform such a deed, and move into what the Spirit is saying.
The hungry multitudes are like Pharaoh’s lean cattle. They have been drained of life and live a grasping existence. They bite and devour one another. They are the cattle of the famine. But the story is not just about cattle, nor is it about merely feeding our earthly bellies. The cattle are all humanity at one time or another, and the reason for their leanness is that it is from a famine of the Word of God,which here Jesus calls the “meat which endureth unto everlasting life,” or as He says immediately after this, the “Bread of heaven.”
But the people had just seen the “result” of the miracles, the food for maybe two people, that fed a great multitude, the cripples who now could walk, the blind who could now see, and did not consider past that. They only saw the surface, not regarding any deeper meaning. They were so flesh-minded they had no regard that there could even be any deeper meaning. Food, one-hundred percent healing from all infirmities of mind and body – what could be greater than that? Throw in a free house and it’s a done deal!
In another parable, the hungry multitudes ate the food Jesus provided in the wilderness, but this time we go back to the figure of the Israelites in the desert, as Paul did in 1 Cor 10. There was nothing to eat in the desert, yet they ate! I’ve seen documentaries on the Sinai desert. There is nothing there that could sustain a hundred people, much less upwards to a million!
And here, on a Galilean mountainside, Jesus basically repeats what Moses did – He sets a table in the wilderness. (Psalm 78:19). He healed their infirmities, cast out their demons, broke choking bondages forged during life, and fed their bellies until they were full. All of that was in the temporal, which was all most of the people saw. But in the Spirit it testifies of the Real Food from Heaven, whereby they could be made fully whole and walk continually in that wholeness! They didn’t see that! It was just food, their literal daily bread, recovery from infirmity, and general peace of mind to them. And they wanted it to continue!
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus had just told them what to do, what was important, but it went totally over their heads. They still had their minds on things of the flesh, stuff you could see, feel, smell, touch. What will we eat? Where will we live? What will we wear? Considering where their minds were, this was not really a godly question. They weren’t really wanting to know how to “work God’s works.” They wanted to know if He could teach them to do what He did for their bodies’ and minds’ sakes. It was not “for God” at all, but purely for themselves and for improving their lives. They are here asking how do we do what You do, so that we can get these same kinds of results, i.e., feeding 5000. (We can’t blame them too much. Even the disciples were perplexed by Him. They didn’t “get it” either, though they traveled, worked and lived with Him every single day.)
But what about this question, this classic question: “What shall we DO?” “Give me the procedure, the formula, the words to say, deeds to do, the key to your magic, so that I can DO it, too?” Again, this is not a godly question. It is practical, however.
But as usual, Jesus does not respond with an answer they are hoping for. Instead of, “Ok, here are the things you can do to be able to duplicate all these miracles. 1. Jump up and down 5 times in each of the four directions, while shouting, “We believe we believe we believe.” 2. Wiggle the toes on each of your feet simultaneously from the outside in, then your hands the same way. 3. Take 144 deep breaths. … 4. Wake up from fainting. 5 6 7 8 11 56 78 187 235 … 433. Play hopscotch on rocks near creeks. 434. Genuflect until your knees give out. 435. etc etc …”
No, nothing like that. I’m being facetious, but it has a point. The point is, there is no “system,” but once things are gathered together and sold to the public as a working system it gains a life of its own and becomes a modern idol of the Old Testament kind, because to serve “it,” is idolatry.
Jesus simplified it to its total basic elements.
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
What? This is out of left field! Understand me. We have a hard time understanding where these people were, if we cannot identify with them. It may have been a long time since we saw that way, and sometimes we forget how it was. I remember the days when I thought I was looking for true bread but it was really the bread that perished, until He came and gave me the true bread. But these folks could not see that yet. Still, though they are asking their questions from the flesh side of things, that is no thwart of any kind to the Truth Jesus answers. Luckily for me years ago I asked questions, often arrogantly, questions of the same kind, and Jesus answered the same supposed “for-me, arrogant questions” I asked, with the same love, grace and truth as He did here. (We’ll save “believe on Him Whom He hath sent,” for a little later.)
30 They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. (Ex 16:4)
Isn’t this something? Just the day before Jesus had performed one of the most fantastic miracles the world has ever seen, feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Were they paying attention? No, they still have their minds on their bellies! “You fed us once, feed us again! Here we are now, entertain us! Give us another sign, Jesus, if you really are Who You say You are! Do it again!!! What work do YOU work? Moses fed our fathers in the desert for 40 years, and they called it bread from heaven. And Moses sent it every day!”
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
On the surface it looks like Jesus is contradicting scripture, because the Lord told Moses He would rain bread from heaven. And in the context of the wilderness and in the minds of the people, it came from heaven. But they were completely flesh-minded, both the Israelites in Exodus as well as the people who were with Jesus. They did not know heaven is really another “principle,” an existence “apart” from this one, yet in co-existence in everything. In modern terms, it is another dimension, but we cannot think of that as physical according to anything we know, as if we could build a machine to transport us there.
The crowd thought it was someplace up in the sky, or on top of Sinai. So what Jesus is really saying to the crowd in John 6, is that the manna in the wilderness represented the True Bread from heaven, which did not come from a physical place in a physical way, but came “out of heaven,” of Spirit, in Spirit and by Spirit. It was from a completely “other” place, and was of a completely “other” quality from anything they had ever known or experienced before.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
Still seeing it in a fleshly way, they have an enthusiasm to have that bread, but it seems plain that another thing Jesus told them, actually the MAIN thing, just flew over their heads – “I am the bread of life.” They’re still wanting the bread of THIS life. They think maybe they could have a loaf of bread that never runs out, like magic.
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
Jesus begins to really crank it up here.