We have been talking about the famine of hearing of the words of the Lord—words that the Lord Himself speaks, and therefore are living words that sustain us and give us the strength we need for our daily walk in this world.
That’s what bread is for—to strengthen man’s heart (Ps. 104.15). And we need this daily. It’s simply impossible to go through the day and meet its demands without the strength of the bread of life. I know, as long as things are going okay and we are prospering nicely, it seems we can get along without this living Bread. But the hour is at hand when many people—even many Christians—will suddenly see that their spiritual plates are empty, in fact have been empty for a long time.
Jesus Christ is Himself the bread of life.
I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on my shall never thirst (Jn. 6.25).
Jesus is not speaking here of a one-time thing—when I came to Him and was converted. He is speaking of a continual coming to Him, and in doing so, discovering an unfailing supply for my daily need whatever that need is. His promise is that “as are thy days so shall thy strength be” (Dt. 33.25). In other words, there cannot be a day that proves too much to handle when we come to Him for the bread we need for this day. This is the experience of many Christians who take their need for the living Bread seriously and come to Him expectantly day by day.
But let’s look at this in larger terms than the twenty-four hour day. For we are now entering upon a very difficult day, and it is going to require great spiritual strength to get through it.
What provision does God have for this day now dawning? Apart from a major spiritual revolution we face grievous spiritual famine in our western lands in spite of all the Bibles and Bible studies and Internet resources and weekly sermons by our favourite pastor. All this, good as it is, was never meant to be the answer for the needs of the world around us. What is God’s answer then? Yes I know, Christ Himself.
For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world (Jn. 6.33).
I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread which I shall give is my flesh which I shall give for the life of the world (Jn. 6.51).
His flesh? This caused a strife among those listening. “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
Even His own disciples found this hard to comprehend. They couldn’t imagine themselves eating His flesh. Jesus answered their perplexity with another perplexity.
Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth (that giveth life): the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life (Jn. 6.62,63).
In other words, it wasn’t eating His physical body that Jesus had in mind. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” He would ascend into Heaven and by the Holy Spirit speak living words from Heaven, words which to partake of would be one and the same as eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
But there is something else here—a very important implication in Jesus’ statement that “it is the Spirit that quickeneth.” In sending the Holy Spirit, Christ means you and I, ordinary Christians in the body of Christ, to become His very flesh, the bread that He gives for the life of the world.
For we being many are one bread (or, loaf) and one body; for we are all partakers of that One Bread (1 Cor. 10.12).
Partaking of this One Bread causes us ourselves to become vitally a part of that One Bread. For, as the saying goes, you are what you eat.
And how is this accomplished—that we become this one loaf and one body?
For by one Spirit are ye all baptized into one body… (1 Cor. 12.13).
This is the implication of His words, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth…” He is talking of the sending of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, by which, wonder of wonders, we are made one with Him who is in Heaven– are made one Loaf with Him, one Body.
Fellow Christian, we must be earnestly seeking this kind of intermingling and interaction with the Spirit of Christ—something that produces an entirely different kind of church, one in which every single member is a vital participant in the Bread of Life, and there is a very real sense of all having become One Loaf with Christ Himself.
And those in leadership must seek earnestly to give the Spirit of the Lord His liberty and lordship so He can bring this One Loaf into being– His answer for the spiritual hunger of the world.
We have many good pastors and teachers these days who can deliver a good word. We are thankful for them. We have many great ministries who through modern media feed multitudes of Christians all the world over with powerful messages. We are thankful for these as well, for they certainly meet a need.
But this will not meet the need of the day at hand. God has something greater in mind. In fact even now—can we not recognize this?—we are in a state of famine. Is not this abundantly clear when we look at the needs of our world around us, first on the local level and then out further? With all our present provision we are still in a state of famine.
And we will be in a state of famine until this One Loaf begins to appear.
It is this Loaf—the body of Christ—that the Lord has in mind for the day at hand, and is even now preparing. It is this Loaf that He breaks in His hands to feed every need of the hungry.
This is the Bread that Christ gives for the life of the world.
This is the Loaf that finally brings to an end the famine of the words of the Lord.
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds. out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4: 4). We hunger for the Word even when we do not realize it.
That is true, Anna. Many there are who do not realize that that inner emptiness can only be satisfied by the living Word of God.