Shewbread, also spelled Showbread,
Bread Of The Presence,
any of the
12 loaves of bread that stood
12 tribes of Israel,
presented and shown
Temple of Jerusalem in the
Presence of God
The loaves were a symbolic
God was the resource for
Israel’s life and nourishment
and also served as
thanksgiving to God.
The arrangement of the bread on a table in two rows of six
was an important aspect of the presentation because some verses in
the Bible literally speak
“the bread of the arrangement”
(1 Chronicles 9:32, 23:29; Nehemiah 10:33).
The table, which stood at the west end of the
“holy place” of the Temple,
next to the
Holy of Holies,
was also important.
The bread was changed
and the priests ate that which had been displayed.
Once, in an emergency, it was given
feed his hungry men
Many aspects of the
Christian Eucharist show that it was
influenced by Israel’s shewbread
Bread of Life”
Is one of the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. Jesus used
the same phrase “I AM”
in seven declarations about
In all seven, He combines I AM with tremendous
metaphors which express His saving relationship
toward the world.
All appear in the
book of John
John 6:35 says,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
believes in me shall never thirst.”
Bread is considered a staple food—i.e., a basic dietary item. A person can survive a long time on only bread and water. Bread is such a basic food item that it becomes synonymous for food in general. We even use the phrase “breaking bread together” to indicate the sharing of a meal with someone. Bread also plays an integral part of the Jewish Passover meal. The Jews were to eat unleavened bread during the Passover feast and then for seven days following as a celebration of the exodus from Egypt.
Finally, when the Jews were wandering in the desert
God rained down
“bread from heaven” to sustain the nation
All of this plays into the scene being described in John 6
when Jesus used the term
“bread of life.”
He was trying to get away from the crowds to no avail. He had crossed the Sea of Galilee, and the crowd followed Him. After some time, Jesus inquires of Philip how they’re going to feed the crowd. Philip’s answer displays his “little faith” when he says they don’t have enough money to give each of them the smallest morsel of food. Finally, Andrew brings to Jesus a boy who had five small loaves of bread and two fish. With that amount,
Jesus miraculously fed
the throng with lots of food to spare.
Jesus and His disciples cross back to the
other side of Galilee
When the crowd sees that Jesus has left, they follow Him again. Jesus takes this moment to teach them a lesson. He accuses the crowd of ignoring His miraculous signs and only following Him for the “free meal.” Jesus tells them in John 6:27, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” In other words, they were so enthralled with the food, they were missing out on the fact that their Messiah had come. So the Jews ask Jesus for a sign that He was sent from God (as if the miraculous feeding and the walking across the water weren’t enough). They tell Jesus that God gave them manna during the desert wandering. Jesus responds by telling them that they need to ask for the true bread from heaven that gives life. When they ask Jesus for this bread, Jesus startles them by saying, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
This is a phenomenal statement! First, by equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essential for life. Second, the life Jesus is referring to is not physical life, but eternal life. Jesus is trying to get the Jews’ thinking off of the physical realm and into the spiritual realm. He is contrasting what He brings as their Messiah with the bread He miraculously created the day before. That was physical bread that perishes. He is spiritual bread that brings eternal life.
Third, and very important, Jesus is making another claim to deity. This statement is the first of the “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. The phrase “I AM” is the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or YHWH), revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). The phrase speaks of self-sufficient existence (or what theologians refer to as “aseity”), which is an attribute only God possesses. It is also a phrase the Jews who were listening would have automatically understood as a claim to deity.
Fourth, notice the words “come” and “believe.” This is an invitation for those listening to place their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. This invitation to come is found throughout John’s Gospel. Coming to Jesus involves making a choice to forsake the world and follow Him. Believing in Jesus means placing our faith in Him that He is who He says He is, that He will do what He says He will do, and that He is the only one who can.
Fifth, there are the words “hunger and thirst.” Again, it must be noted that Jesus isn’t talking about alleviating physical hunger and thirst. The key is found in another statement Jesus made, back in His Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” When Jesus says those who come to Him will never hunger and those who believe in Him will never thirst, He is saying He will satisfy our hunger and thirst to be made righteous in the sight of God.
If there is anything the history of human religion tells us, it is that people seek to earn their way to heaven. This is such a basic human desire because God created us with eternity in mind. The Bible says God has placed [the desire for] eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The Bible also tells us that there is nothing we can do to earn our way to heaven because we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23) and the only thing our sin earns us is death (Romans 6:23). There is no one who is righteous in himself (Romans 3:10). Our dilemma is we have a desire we cannot fulfill, no matter what we do. That is where Jesus comes in. He, and He alone, can fulfill that desire in our hearts for righteousness through the Divine Transaction: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Christ died on the cross, He took the sins of mankind upon Himself and made atonement for them. When we place our faith in Him, our sins are imputed to Jesus, and His righteousness is imputed to us. Jesus satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. He is our Bread of Life.
Food is vital for sustaining life.
Without proper nourishment, the human body
becomes weak and cannot function properly.
People must take care of their bodies through eating right and consuming key nutrients, so they not only live but thrive in healthiness. The same principle applies to one’s spiritual life. A proper diet of spiritual food is needed so Christians do not become weak and weary, but rather thrive spiritually in their relationship with God. Regular nourishment for the soul is vital for the Christian life, just as physical
food is for the body.
Jesus emphasized the importance of spiritual food when He was tempted by Satan: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NET). Man is both physical and spiritual, which is why spiritual food is just as important as physical nourishment. This spiritual food is “every word that comes from the mouth of God” God has spoken to us in His Word, the Bible. His Word imparts life (John 6:63).
The Bible often speaks of the spiritual food we need: God’s Word provides milk (1 Peter 2:2); it is meat (1 Corinthians 3:2) and bread (Deuteronomy 8:3; Job 23:12); and it is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103). The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:16). Scripture’s use of food metaphors demonstrates the importance of ingesting God’s Word, of making it a part of us. Scripture is not something merely to study or read but to be “eaten” by God’s people.
We read the Word, but we then pause to
“chew on it”
meditating and reflecting
on the meaning and application
of what we’ve read
(see Psalm 1:1–3).
On a couple occasions, Jesus spoke of
another type of spiritual food.
After Jesus spoke to
the Samaritan woman at the well,
brought Him some food
But He did not partake, saying
“I have food to eat
know nothing about”
puzzled the disciples,
whose minds were stuck
on physical food,
and Jesus explained:
“My food is to do
will of him
who sent me
accomplish his work”
(verse 34, ESV).
Later, after feeding the 5,000, Jesus referred to
faith, salvation, and
His sacrifice using a food metaphor:
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise them up at the last day.
For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink”
We need spiritual food—that is to say
we need the
Word of God,
we need to do
the will of God,