In Matthew 4:4 Jesus rebukes the tempter quoting part of Deuteronomy 8:3, "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." In the first chapter of John, Jesus is described as the Word of God that is God and in the sixth chapter of the same gospel Jesus describes Himself as the bread that has come down from heaven. There are some parallels and contrast that can be drawn from Jesus as the Word of God and Jesus as the Bread that has come down from heaven.
In the first century bread was the staple food for the people living in the Roman world. Other things were eaten but day-to-day bread was what kept them alive. Most of the income of a common laborer went to purchase bread. The importance of bread cannot be overstated. It meant life itself. When Jesus said He was the bread of life He was stating the central truth of the gospel. Without Him there is no eternal life.
He went so far as to say that they, the Jews, must eat His flesh and drink His blood. This was extremely powerful symbolism speaking of His death on the cross. The violence of that act being akin to the violence of the killing of an animal for sacrifice. Except in the case of whole offerings the flesh of sacrificial animals was eaten by the people and the priest. The blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat once a year as part of the offering for the forgiveness of the peoples sin and the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood. The entire sacrificial system was a typology of God's own sacrifice of His Son on a cross for the forgiveness of sin.
Jesus as the Word of God and as the Bread of Life are essential to our understanding of who Jesus was and what He came to do. When He ascended to be with the Father, He ascended in bodily form. What He left His church was the Holy Spirit which would be the agent for the inception of new life in those to be saved and the words that He had spoken to His apostles, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD the New Testament had been completed, the gospel accounts of His life and the epistles with instructions for the Church. The internal evidence for this is that nowhere in the gospels or the epistles is there any mention of the destruction of the temple. Which could hardly be overlooked.
The Word of God is the spiritual bread of the believer. The preaching and teaching of that Word is essential in the life of the believer. Bread sustains physical life which will end but God's Word sustains and strengthens spiritual life which will not end. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to save us and to grow us into the image of Christ. How can we discount the Word of God that He left to us when that is what brings spiritual life. True worship is when we come together to feed on His Word. That is what grows us into mature Christians able to handle the meat of the Word. Jesus told the Jews that the Word of God cannot be broken. It cannot be set aside, it is always true and powerful. "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Every word, all of it, not simply what we like or prefer.
Men do not like the Word of God because it always points them toward Jesus Christ and does not confer upon men the importance they think they deserve. Thinking of themselves first and discounting God's Word is what led to the fall. The Bible consistently points to the sovereignty of God and the necessity of men to humble themselves before Him. It is a supremely simple message in one respect. Under God, In Christ is eternal life and joy forever. Rebellion against God and His Son is eternal death and misery.
There is another simple message, if we feed on His Word with humility it will produce in us the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of righteousness and transform our mind and hearts. We will thrive with it and starve without it. Why would we neglect one of only two things that give and strengthen spiritual life and it takes both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God working together to do that for us. One without the other is not enough.
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