I AM the Bread of Life
“Jesus said, ‘I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.” – John 6:35
Literally speaking, hunger is the desire and need for food. But spiritually, hunger is the desire and need for your deepest longings to be satisfied.
As a case in point, you have a deep longing to be wanted. Sometimes people will say that they long to be “accepted”, but when you look at this longing up close, what they long for is more than acceptance. No one knows how flawed we are better than we know it ourselves, and sadly, this deep and intimate awareness of our own flaws shapes the way we view ourselves. Even more sad is the extent to which it shapes the way we fear others will view us if they really knew our flaws as well as we do. When someone sees one of our flaws and overlooks it without taking offense at us, we feel acceptable. When someone sees one of our flaws and forgives it because they found it offensive, we feel accepted. Feeling acceptable or accepted is good, but it is not our deepest longing. We long for someone, not someone who merely overlooks or forgives our flaws, but one who sees us as more than our flaws and finds us more than forgivable or acceptable, but desirable.
If you went to the market in search of an apple of a particular shape, color, weight, price, and size, and you get there but do not find it, then you might settle for some other apple that will just have to do. You would be forced to buy an apple that you know is flawed, that you know is not really the one you wanted. You would have to walk away with an apple that you find acceptable, but not desirable. Acceptability is the only rational sentiment to feel towards something that does not meet your standards or specifications. Desirability is a sentiment that can only be felt towards something that does meet your standards and specifications. And so the desirability that we as sinful, flawed, and fallen creatures long for from God and other people is an impossibility. If we are sinful and flawed, if we at our core have failed to meet standards and specifications, then no matter how much we long for it, we cannot be desirable. We can only be accepted. We can only be acceptable. We know that acceptability itself is remarkably generous, because our intimate knowledge of our own flaws is enough to tell us that rejection is really our due and desert. So we know to be grateful to those who accept us, those who find us acceptable, for it is the most we can hope for, since what we really long for is irrational to expect.
And that impossible miracle is precisely what Jesus claims to have the power to perform. He claims that even though we are flawed and the only thing deserved is rejection and the most generous thing to be hoped for is acceptance, he has a way for flawed apples like us that do not meet his standards and specifications, to not merely escape rejection or be accepted. He says he is the Bread and Water that satisfies whatever our deepest longings are, and since the longing to be wanted is one of them, Jesus claims to be able to satisfy that. In him, or by aligning and identifying ourselves with him, God does not merely show us the mercy of escaping his rejection, nor does He merely show us the grace of acceptance. Christ did not just come because God is forgiving and accepting. He came because God wants us and desires us, as one desires something the perfectly meets his standards and specifications. God wants us, our flaws notwithstanding, with the passion that is only logical in someone who wants a flawless delight. He is able to do this because of Christ, in whom God sees and receives us as flawless from day one, without ever requiring us to be flawless in ourselves to be found desirable. Goodness!