By Robert Halsey Pine
“This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:30-33,48-51 NRSV).
When I first moved to the town where I’ve lived now for fifty years, I complained because there were very few restaurants. Many people would go out to eat in surrounding towns and travel up to sixty miles to get a good meal. Things have changed over these fifty years, and there seems to be a restaurant on every corner now. There are easily twenty times as many places to eat now in my town compared to fifty years ago. Even at that, I still complained because many of them were just not good enough for me.
This unhappiness that I had about the “bread” that had been provided for me in ever changing quantities over the years reminds me of Moses’ comments to his people at the end of the forty years in the wilderness. In Deuteronomy (8:1-3 NRSV) Moses says, “Remember the long way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna…in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
During the early years in my town the ever-increasing amount of food available did not make me a better person. I lived in the sin of dissatisfaction in all aspects of my life. I was tested in keeping God’s commandments. The food of my natural life was not adequate. I thought that there had to be something else. I kept seeking that something, only to return again to worldly food. As I faced unprepared the challenges of life, I began to realize that I needed a new kind of food.
Through God’s Word sent in Christ Jesus and in His grace, I see that I can’t “live by bread alone”. Jesus said to the crowd at Capernaum, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”(John 6:35 NRSV)
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.