Explore The Bible Study: I Am The Bread

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Hangry (yes, it is really a word!) is defined as, “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.” Food is not the only thing that might cause one to be “hangry.” The human soul is always hungry and thirsty. Broken humanity relentlessly pursues anything that might quench that hunger and thirst, constantly pursuing but never finding. The Explore the Bible Study: I Am The Bread, reminds us that we don't have to be "hangry" all the time.

Jesus used the miraculous feeding of 5000 to help us understand that the hunger (and thirst) of the soul can be satisfied. Jesus’ travels and teachings led to a great crowd following Him throughout the region of Galilee. As Jesus sat on a mountain with His disciples, this crowd, that had grown to over 5000, began to gather around them. They were not only hungry for what Jesus was teaching; they were also growing hungry physically, and the Passover celebration was about to begin, so they needed to eat.

You can read John 6:1-14 to learn more about how John describes the miracle that took place.

Following this event, Jesus retreats to the mountain and His disciples get on a boat and start sailing to Capernaum. His disciples experience another miracle when Jesus walks on the water during a storm and safely guides their boat to shore, arriving in Capernaum. Meanwhile, the crowd realized that Jesus had left for Capernaum, so they too boarded boats and arrived on the other side. Then Jesus begins to share the gospel with the persistent crowd.

Even though this crowd had been fed, they were still hungry. Their hunger led them to demand from Jesus more of what they thought they needed in order to never be hungry (physically) again. Jesus uses this situation to help them understand that He and He alone is the only true source of spiritual food that always satisfies.

Why are you really looking for Jesus? – John 6:26-29

Jesus immediately confronts the motives of this crowd. They had just experienced this amazing miracle, but it wasn’t enough for them. They had failed to consider the deeper meaning of the miracle. They could have glorified God, gone and told others about the miracle Jesus’ performed, or they could have sought out Jesus to know more about why He did this. Instead, they just wanted more free food!

This crowd missed the purpose altogether. But Jesus used this opportunity to share the gospel. He deliberately redirected their focus to their ultimate need: spiritual bread. Jesus encouraged them to turn their attention to the more important issue of eternal life. 

What does John 6:28 reveal about the sin nature of man? Why do people look for Jesus today? How can you avoid the trap of looking to Jesus only to fulfill your temporary needs or to give you something you want?

Verse 28 reveals much about man’s sin nature and His perverted quest to fulfill his hunger on his own terms. This crowd revealed that they coveted the ability to do the works OF God, not just works FOR God. They had totally ignored Jesus. This revealed their selfish sin nature. They wanted immediate satisfaction and something they could produce on their own when they desired it. They didn’t want “the food that lasts for eternal life” that could only come from Jesus, God’s Son.

Then, in verse 29, Jesus said “This is the work of God — that you believe in the one he has sent.” This crowd asked, “What can we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus emphatically states that belief in Him is the only work they can perform, and even that is a work of God. It is only possible because God has made it possible.

It’s apparent by the next verses that Jesus’ answer didn’t satisfy their hunger. They only wanted more!

More will never be enough – John 6:30-34

Imagine this taking place. Jesus had just provided plenty of food from some loaves and fishes. It was enough to feed 5000, and there were leftovers! Now, they insult Jesus by asking for more! What they had eaten and what they had witnessed wasn’t enough. 

To add to the insult, they became prescriptive about what they wanted. In addition, they evoked Scripture to try and manipulate Jesus into providing what they wanted. They had a specific miracle in mind: the manna God provided to their ancestors while they were in the wilderness.

Someone read Deuteronomy 8:3. Why did they ignore the reason God provided the manna? 

How can we avoid the trap of asking for more of the wrong things in our lives?

Mankind will do almost anything to fulfill his hunger for more. If his own personal efforts don’t work out, then he turns to others to get more or shows favor to someone powerful with hopes of them providing something for him. If that doesn’t work, then they try to manipulate God. When they try to manipulate God, they might cherry pick Bible passages that will justify their case while ignoring the real meaning behind Scripture. These people in Capernaum should have known the complete story about the manna provided by God (not Moses) while they were wandering in the wilderness. They should have known what Deuteronomy 8:3-6 said about the purpose of the manna – “He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Jesus reminds this crowd that only God, not man, can satisfy their hunger. Jesus revealed that He was the source for fulfilling their hunger, not because He was a prophet, but because He was the Son of God. The source of true bread was standing right before them, yet they hungered for something more. Jesus reveals more about what this means that He is the only one who can satisfy their hunger in John 6:35-40.

As you imagine this dialogue continuing with the crowd, think about the words Jesus says next. How would you explain what Jesus is saying?

Only Jesus can satisfy your hunger – John 6:35-40

In verse 36 Jesus said, “you’ve seen me, and yet you do not believe.” This crowd was only wanting more physical food so they could have an endless buffet that would never run out. They really didn’t have a desire to believe. 

What words or phrases describe the compassion and love Jesus has for those who come to Him?

When you consider Jesus’ expression of His love in this passage, how does that change your perspective on those things, other than Jesus, for which you hunger and thirst?

Jesus’ compassion and love is expressed in so many of the phrases used in this passage – “I will never cast out,” "I should lose none of those He has given me,” “raise them up on the last day,” “everyone . . . who believes in him will have eternal life,” and “I will raise him up on the last day.” These phrases and everything else this passage describes regarding the love of the Father and the Son should calm the hunger and thirsting desires of any unfulfilled soul.

A Society of "Hangry" People

The crowd that followed Him to Capernaum witnessed the amazing multiplication of loaves and fish. People who made up the congregation of this synagogue had observed His miracles and His manner of life. Jesus plainly declared Himself to be the bread of life sent from the Father.  As the bread of life, He promised eternal satisfaction. Yet they did not believe. Jesus was not surprised. 

Read the story of the manna from heaven in Exodus 16:4-30. Notice how the provision of food never satisfied the Israelites. Based on this passage and what we observe in the Scriptures and in this world, can anyone ever be satisfied by what they physically receive or experience?

Do you think that, if Jesus were here today and miraculously fed 5000+, people would be satisfied by the miracle itself?

Since we know most people would not be satisfied, what can we learn from Jesus’ response that might help us share and show the gospel to others? 

We are a society of “hangry” people today, and it’s not just the absence of food that is causing this. We have probably been tempted to express “hanger” when our hungers, expectations, desires aren’t being met. We have certainly observed “hanger” from others when their desires, hungers, expectations weren’t met. Yet, in Christ, we don’t have to be “hangry.” 

We should remember the words of Jesus to another crowd, on another day, on another hill when He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Consider what actions you need to take to hunger and thirst for righteousness and not for the things that make you “hangry.”

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version              Download Word Version

LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 


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