Then said they to him, Lord, ever more give us this bread.…
I. MAN'S HUNGER. There is in every finite existence one great appetite. No creature is independent; it must draw life from another. In man, who is a complex being, there are various kinds of hunger.
(1) Bodily hunger. Even as an upright creature man was made dependent on the fruits of the ground; and now his first question is, "How am I to get bread." How much thought and labour are expended on it! It has impelled to every crime. Hunger pressed Israel into Egypt, and that involved mighty issues for both. Hunger brought Ruth into view and linked her with the royal ancestry of Christ. The greatest spiritual conflict in the world was connected with a state of hunger. The central petition of the Lord's prayer is "Give us this day," etc.
(2) Mental hunger. Man's bodily appetite is typical of mental conditions.
(a) The heart hungers for happiness. Man, when left to himself, is an unhappy being.
(b) The intellect hungers for truth. Man has been made to inquire into, study, and know the truth of things.
(c) The will hungers for liberty. The triumph of a man's life is to prevail over the conditions which would fetter him.
(d) The conscience hungers for righteousness. We are made to act in accordance with the supreme law of the universe, the will of God. All altars, sacrifices, priesthoods are witnesses to that.
2. Unnatural. Great multitudes, instead of seeking for legitimate satisfaction, lay hold of false food, and drug themselves. For these Satan keeps a great variety of delusions.
(1) For low natures coarse animal pleasures.
(2) For intellectual natures there are the sciences, etc.
(3) For light and giddy natures there is the world and all its glory.
(4) For ambitious natures, principalities and powers.
(5) For more serious and half. religious natures penancies, pilgrimages, rites, ceremonies, and good works. The result of eating such false bread is that the mere hunger of the soul is deadened, and a false appetite created, which grows with what it feeds on, and this bread of death instead of supporting the soul consumes it.
3. Supernatural; the longings which exist with any degree of strength only in the renewed nature. Along with the other tastes there may be a love of sin, but this partly consists of a hatred of sin and a love of all that is good, a counting of all things but loss, so that we may gain Christ.
II. THE DIVINE PROVISION.
1. On what ground does God provide for our bodily hunger? For the sake of Christ. He has tasted death for every man, and thus secured an ample day of grace and every blessing, temporal as well as spiritual. Thus in a literal sense Christ is the Bread of Life.
2. Christ is the true food for the human mind.
(1) We can only see the true beauty and deep spiritual meaning of nature through Him.
(2) He is the Bread of Life to the conscience. In Him the sins of the past are washed away and the law magnified and made honourable.
(3) He is the Bread of Life to the heart. The heart that loves not is dead — but Jesus has revealed and communicates the love of God.
(F. Ferguson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.