The other day I was basking in the joy of reading to my grandson. The battered, well-read book, The Little Red Hen, had been given to me by my grandmother and now I was passing on the story to a new generation. The repetition of this tale, which must be read voicing all the animal sounds, brings smiles as we watch the little red hen complete the task of baking bread while the other farm animals lazily watch. The fable dates back to 1874 and has been written in many languages as it is told to children all over the world. The lesson of hard work and the importance of bread is understood by all ages universally.
Bread contains everything necessary to sustain life. The children of Israel understood this as they cried out to Moses for food in the wilderness. Exodus tells us that God rained bread from heaven in the form of manna. As one of my favorite Bible teachers says, “The New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament”. We see this clearly in our passage in John. Jesus references the Exodus account and connects the dots to his Jewish audience. The true bread that came from heaven is Him!
Just the day before, Jesus had miraculously fed five thousand with just five barley loaves and two fish with twelve baskets of leftovers. This miracle, fresh in their minds and hearts, helped drive the truth home that He is the revelation of I AM from the time of Moses. But, as the children of Israel ate manna and eventually died, Jesus goes a step beyond and says that He is the Bread of Life and that anyone who comes to Him will never hunger. Jesus often used earthly illustrations to teach a heavenly meaning. The hunger that He satisfies is a spiritual hunger. The life is an eternal life.
Just as bread sustains life, so Jesus is all that we need. Enough manna was given for each day, no more, no less. So, we, too, have all that we need for each new day in Jesus. Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven. When we eat of this bread, we have life eternally with Him. Later, he refers to His body as the bread, which He gave for the life of the world. (John 6:51) When believers share in communion, the bread and the cup, this is a symbol again that He is the Bread of Life. It’s a beautiful picture of sustenance, provision and fulfillment. I’ve heard it said that I AM means He is all that I need Him to be, when I need Him to be all that I need.
So, just as the little red hen asks at the end of the tale, “Who will eat this bread?” Are you crying out with a hungry heart, “I will!”? Does your sustenance depend on the Bread of Life? He is all that you need.