Some things in life are an acquired taste. Many of the foods I enjoy are so stinky that I’m not allowed to eat them in the house. At least not while my wife is around. I don’t blame her, for there are a few things I would rather she not eat around me. The foods you enjoy, the foods that make you shudder at the thought – they are not the same as anyone else’s. You could spend your life trying to find a scientific explanation for why, but in the end it still wouldn’t change anything. From the day you were born till the day you will die there are just some things that call out to you, and some that send you off with a bad taste in your mouth.
The same thing holds true for spiritual food too. The Good News of salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an acquired taste, Jesus tells us. Either it calls you and you can’t get enough, or it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. But why is that? How does one acquire a taste for salvation? For the Bread of Life?
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 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 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
To eat of the Bread of Life is nothing more than to believe … faith is coming to Jesus. Such an idea is not really news to many, but what might be new to most is what Jesus says next: the one who comes to Christ does so only because he or she is a gift of the Father to Jesus. Faith is the result of God’s merciful selection. You believe in Christ only because the Father has given you over to Him. But it is a call of grace, and therefore none of those that come to Jesus in faith will He cast out. Why not? Because the will of the Father and the Son are identical in this matter – Jesus will not lose anyone whom the Father gives to Him. What’s more, they will be His until Jesus will raises them on the last day.
These words are the sweetest you could ever taste, but they do not sit well with everyone. 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me– 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
Some of those who heard Jesus that day resist the Father Who wants to draw them. And although they grumble at Him, Jesus doesn’t abandon them. He keeps on offering Himself to them. Indeed, the very word “draws” denotes the pulling of a dead weight, like beaching a ship. God alone can draw dead weight into everlasting life. This word from Christ excludes every vestige of our playing any part (no matter how small) in our own salvation. It also dispels the notions of anyone who is tempted to think that he has spiritual powers of his own.
What does ‘no man’ mean? Why, the entire human race, the whole world, no man excepted. Not even the most powerful, the most holy, the most prudent, or the wisest. It is spoken briefly, but it is a powerful phrase, which thrusts down and throws to the ground all that is called human wisdom, reason, judgment, righteousness, and holiness, also religion and worship. For to come to this article and salvation in Christ no wisdom helps, no prudence, no shedding of blood and giving of alms, nor what the entire human generation is able to do with wisdom, with piety and sanctity.
Why? The knowledge of God was not communicated directly, by immediate vision of God. There is only one Man who has received His Being directly from God and who is also in immediate communication with God. Only He has truly seen the Father. For that reason it is essential that a Christian believe the Word of Jesus without the slightest doubt, since Jesus’ deity demands as much. Do not stray into the belief that one can come to the Father without the Person of Christ. It cannot be done. Therefore God binds our ears and our hearts to the Word of this Man . . . Stick to the external Word, and listen to it.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Jesus changes neither the text nor content of His sermon one bit, even as He speaks it a third time. He repeats the main thoughts again to impress them upon His hearers. It is faith in Him which gives eternal life; that is the only way in which salvation may be obtained, by believing in Him. By repeating these great facts again and again, Jesus wants to work faith in the hearts of His hearers. Thus the continuing point of comparison between “bread” and Jesus. Bread covers all food necessary for man in this life lest he die. Jesus covers all that is necessary for man for the life to come, lest he perish. Jesus, the Bread of Life differs, of course, from ordinary food which merely sustains life. Jesus gives life – spiritual life – everlasting life.
Manna was given only to the covenant people. This bread is for all men. This bread is divine. And “anyone” is an open invitation to all people to come to Jesus and believe. This simple teaching concerning Jesus, His person and His office, the great facts of His salvation … this is the means by which God draws hearts to the Saviour, and works the willingness to believe. This is how the Father draws us to Jesus for our salvation. And in one last statement Jesus also tells the manner in which He will earn that salvation. He will give Himself, His body, His flesh, into death, for the sake of the life of the world. Christ was sacrificed upon the cross, was given for the salvation of the whole world, for all men without exception. In this way Jesus truly becomes the Bread of Life, the Bread from Heaven.
The Good News of salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an acquired taste, but one you have been drawn to by the Lord God Almighty. May it be a taste for the sweet Words of eternal life that you can’t get enough of. A taste for the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. A taste for Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.