Chapter 13. Eating the Bread of Heaven
"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst...I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:35, 51).
"Eating" vs. eatingIn the focus text above, Christ plainly states that He is the bread of heaven. The people had a hard time with both understanding and accepting this information, because they wondered how He could give them His flesh to eat. In response, Jesus explained that this bread is essential for eternal life, and said:
"He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me... It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:56-57, 63).Jesus refers to Himself dwelling in us being life and His words being life. Earlier, John described Jesus as "the Word" (John 1:1,14). We are beginning to see that the Word of God is something of critical importance to survival.
Key:Jesus, the Word of God, is The Bread of Heaven
"And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat [food]; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:2-4).The Israelites ate manna and drank water from a rock, which had larger, spiritual meaning. This is similar to the story of Nicodemus. He was confused because he thought Jesus meant he needed to be literally born again from his mother's womb. But no, Christ's explanations in both cases make it clear that He is talking about His spiritual kingdom. Once again we find that human minds are the subject being discussed. Your mind is where the "eating" is done. This means to
- (a) let Jesus into your heart (submit to the Holy Spirit's work within you) and
- (b) digest Jesus' words, which means to hear, study, believe and apply His teachings.
"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16).The eating of the Word is also symbolized by the showbread in the Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary that the Israelite priests always kept ready and available on the table.
Anyone who has felt the sting of insult when accused of being "surfacy" can take heart. There is nothing shallow about becoming a follower of Christ. It requires internalizing truth, thoroughly digesting it and becoming deeply convicted and rooted in Christ. When a person hears truth and it works on the conscience, it only creates agitation and uneasiness. But, when truth is accepted into the mind and embraced as an abiding principle, peace and great changes can take place in the life.
"To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him. It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. So Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Saviour. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace, must be assimilated" (The Desire of Ages 389.3).
"When men submit entirely to God, eating the bread of life and drinking the water of salvation, they will grow up into Christ. Their characters are composed of that which the mind eats and drinks. Through the Word of life, which they receive and obey, they become partakers of the divine nature. Then . . . Christ, not man, is exalted" (The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, vol. 5, p. 1135).
Definition:Eating the Bread of Heaven: Wholly committing to Christ as the only One who can save you, cooperating with His work within you, and regularly studying, believing and applying His word in your life, which is not only essential for spiritual survival, but provides everything needed for an abundant life.
Christ In YouWhen you receive a new heart, the Holy Spirit moves into your mind and connects you to Jesus like a branch to the vine. Jesus told His desciples He was going to heaven and they could not follow, but that the Comforter would be sent to them in His place. Jesus is physically in heaven, but through this union provided by the Holy Spirit, you actually have "Christ in you" by having His thoughts, character and attributes become a part of you. By thus "eating," or believing truth and letting Christ "in", you become a partaker of Christ's nature and grace as He transforms you. This is what it means to accept and live with Christ as your personal savior.
"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Romans 8:10).
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Galatians 4:19).
"'If ye abide in Me,' He says, 'and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.' It is through the word that Christ abides in His followers. This is the same vital union that is represented by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them, you receive the life of the Vine. You live 'by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' Matt. 4:4. The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the similitude of Christ" (The Desire of Ages 677.1).
Christ's Words In YouThe use of common "food" items being "eaten" is also used elsewhere in Scripture to illustrate the study of God's word.
"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat [nourishment, food]. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:12-14).
"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16).Eating the bread of heaven means to regularly immerse yourself in the word of God and digest or assimilate his teachings through the guidance of the Holy Spirit within you. This produces joy and transformation of character.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).The work of the Holy Spirit to transform your character and purify your motives and moral perceptions is nourished and electrified when you study God's word.
The metaphor of bread used here is important. Faith in Christ and His words is LIFE. Bread keeps us alive physically and the word of God keeps us alive spiritually. This is too important to be overlooked. There must be personal, regular Bible study and contemplation upon Christ in order to become, stay alive and certainly to grow, as a new creature. Without it, you do not grow or have your character transformed, and ultimately your spiritual nature dies and the old selfish nature can take over again.
"And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
"By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live 'by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven" (The Desire of Ages - 391.1).
"'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' Rom. 10:17. The Scriptures are the great agency in the transformation of character. Christ prayed, 'Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.' John 17:17. If studied and obeyed, the word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, comforming us in body, soul, and spirit to His own image" (Christ's Object Lessons, 100.1).Studying the Bible is a catalyst for the working of the Holy Spirit. It somehow serves to open a door in our minds. It is as critical to living the life of a "new creature" as bread and water are to our physical bodies. Taking the word into your life will not only enable you to survive, but the Spirit's work in you will thrive. You will, as we will learn in the next chapter, start producing fruit!
"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:5-6).
"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21).
"The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is in the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life. Every command is a promise; accepted by the will, received into the soul, it brings with it the life of the Infinite One. It transforms the nature and re-creates the soul in the image of God. The life thus imparted is in like manner sustained. 'By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4) shall man live. The mind, the soul, is built up by that upon which it feeds; and it rests with us to determine upon what it shall be fed. It is within the power of everyone to choose the topics that shall occupy the thoughts and shape the character. Of every human being privileged with access to the Scriptures, God says, 'I have written to him the great things of My law.' 'Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.' Hosea 8:12; Jeremiah 33:3" (Education 126.4).
"Truth, precious truth, is sanctifying in its influence... The truths of the gospel are not unconnected; uniting they form one string of heavenly jewels, as in the personal work of Christ, and like threads of gold they run through the whole of Christian work and experience" (Selected Messages Book 3 198.4).
"How to exercise faith should be made very plain. To every promise of God there are conditions. If we are willing to do His will, all His strength is ours. Whatever gift He promises, is in the promise itself. 'The seed is the word of God.' Luke 8:11. As surely as the oak is in the acorn, so surely is the gift of God in His promise. If we receive the promise, we have the gift" (Education 253.3).
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16).
Next Bible Term: Being Sanctified
Conversion: The singular instance in time when you become willing and equipped to begin the process of true character transformation.
Overcoming: The process of character transformation and development.
Authentication: The testing and proving of character and its rewards.