I think it’s safe to say that Jesus was not gluten free. Jesus was all about that bread. At the beginning of John 6, he performs the miracle of multiplying the fish and bread, and later in the chapter he goes on to tell the crowd of people that he himself is the bread of life, and whoever comes to him will not hunger or thirst ever again.
In classic form, the mob gets giddy with excitement. Unlimited pita for life? Never having to run to Panera for more bagels? Fish sandwiches forever?! Yes please, Jesus, sign us up. We love that. We’ll have that. Give it to us, please.
You can almost hear Jesus sigh. They’re not getting it. Not that he expected them to. He knew that they were just there for the snacks and the show. In John 2, Jesus “did not entrust himself” to the people, because he knew what was in their hearts.
That’s the thing. Jesus knows our hearts. There’s no hiding or pretending or acting with Jesus. There’s a lot of junk in there, a lot of fears and longings, some so deep we don’t even fully understand them. Some of us fear being bad, some fear being unloved or worthless or incapable, some fear having no personal identity or support from others, and some fear being in pain or being controlled or being broken.
But Christ overcomes all of those fears. He walks calmly across the stormy waves of our hearts. In Christ we are good, we are loved, we are worthy; in Christ we find our identity, we are capable and supported, we are satisfied, protected, and whole.
But how, exactly, does Christ give us all that? How do we get this bread? How do we feel full and satisfied in him forever? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we believe. We bring Christ into us, in a powerful spiritual mystery, and the Spirit indwells our newly living hearts. We abide in Christ, and he abides in us.
The Christian is in Christ, and Christ is in the Christian. We are in him, and he is in us. The resurrection power of Jesus dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. This, then, should be the rhythm of our lives, our marching cadence: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). And we will find that we are able to live with courage. We are able to live with joy. Regardless of the circumstances of our lives, we are steadfast because Christ is in us and we are in him.
This is not something we can do on our own. “The flesh is no help at all,” Jesus says. There is nothing we can do to earn this. No amount of church attendance or teaching Sunday school or sharing your testimony with your neighbor can give this to you.
A lot of Jesus’ followers didn’t love this teaching. For one thing, there was no more free lunch. For another, it sounded like a lot of the hard work they had been doing was for nothing. They tore up their “Jesus for King” signs and went home. But Peter said, “Jesus, where else are we gonna go?” Peter understood that there was nothing else out there that would satisfy, nothing else that could meet all his needs, nothing else worthy of worship. Peter believed. He heard the words that Jesus spoke, the words of eternal life, and he believed.
We all have the same choice to make. We know that our hearts are full of fears and longings. We are hungry and we are thirsty, and we have tried all the ways we can think of to satisfy ourselves. Then we listen to what Jesus has to say, and we have to ask ourselves: do we walk away? Or do we believe, and take our first steps toward eternal life in him?
Written By: Jess Upshaw Glass