CHRIST THE BREAD AND THE LIGHT OF LIFEPrint This Page.
CHRIST IS THE BREAD OF LIFEAND THE LIGHT OF LIFE
Scripture Reading: John 6:35; 8:12
We have already briefly seen that all the spiritual things and all spiritual matters are Christ. God gives us Christ to be our spiritual things and matters. This is the crucial point in the spiritual life. Is our experience merely an experience? Or is our experience Christ? Is our righteousness merely righteousness? Or is our righteousness Christ? Is our holiness merely holiness? Or is our holiness Christ? Is our redemption merely redemption? Or is our redemption Christ? We often speak of the way, but the way we speak of may not be Christ Himself. We often speak of the truth, but we do not realize that Christ Himself is the truth. We often speak of the life, but the life we speak of may not be Christ Himself. In other words, we have many things other than Christ. This is the biggest spiritual problem among God’s children. We say with our mouth that Christ is the centrality of all things, but in our living we still keep many things other than Christ, as if these things could help us live our Christian life. We must turn this concept around. We must realize that God has no intention for us to keep so many so-called spiritual things other than Christ. Under God’s sovereign arrangement, there are things and matters, but God’s things and matters are just Christ. Christ is all spiritual things. He is our righteousness; He does not give us a righteousness apart from Himself. He is our holiness; He does not give us a power apart from Himself that enables us to be holy. He is our redemption; He does not give us a redemption apart from Himself. He is the way; He does not open a way for us apart from Himself. He is the truth; He does not present us a truth apart from Himself and then charge us to understand it. He is the life; He does not give us something called life apart from Himself. Brothers and sisters, the more we go on in God’s way, the more we will discover that there is only one grace among all God’s graces. There is only one gift among all God’s gifts. The grace is Christ, and the gift is Christ. Thank God that He is showing us that Christ includes everything day by day. Formerly, we thought of the Lord as our Savior. Today we can say that He is not only our Savior, but our salvation as well. This is amazing, yet it is a fact. When we were first saved, we believed in the Lord Jesus as our Savior. Now we can say that the Lord Jesus is also our redemption and our salvation. More and more we discover that Christ is God’s things and matters.
If we wrongly presume that what the Lord Jesus gives is different from the Lord Jesus Himself, and if we wrongly presume that grace and the One who gives grace are separate, these mistakes will cause us to suffer great spiritual damage. It will cut us off from the source of life. Therefore, we need to see more concerning Christ being our things and matters. In John 6:35 and 8:12, the Lord tells us that He is the bread of life and the light of life. Let us first see how He is the bread of life.
CHRIST IS THE BREAD OF LIFE
The Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” He said this to those who looked for Him in Capernaum. They expected the Lord to give them food, and the Lord told them, “I am the bread of life.” This means that He is not only the One who gives the bread of life, but He is the bread of life itself. The Giver and the gift are one, not two. Thank God, Christ is not only the Giver, but also the gift of God.
What is the significance of bread in the Bible? In the Bible bread means satisfaction. The Bible uses hunger to express man’s dissatisfaction. In order to solve man’s dissatisfaction, man must have bread. Whether or not God’s children have the strength to go on depends upon whether they are satisfied within. Today if we feel satisfied within, we have strength. If we feel empty like a tire void of air, no one can drag us along. We cannot say that we do not have life, but we can be without strength. Satisfaction gives us strength. Satisfaction enables us to walk. Such an inexplicable satisfaction makes us feel well.
Let us see what the bread of God’s children is. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” The Lord Jesus gives life, and He also sustains life. Many Christians think that the bread is just an hour’s prayer or an hour of reading the Bible; they do not realize that the bread is the Lord Jesus Himself. We do not mean that prayer or reading the Bible is useless, but we should remember that the Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” This means that the bread of life is just Himself. Many times God’s children are not satisfied because they do not realize that Christ is the bread of life. We often meet hungry people, those who are not satisfied with spiritual things. They are not satisfied with this, and they are not satisfied with that. Every day they are surrounded by dissatisfaction. We are not urging people to be proud or self-satisfied. Pride and self-satisfaction are one thing, but eating to the full and becoming satisfied is another. Some people have been dealt with by God; they live before God fearfully, and they are in weakness and trembling. They are not proud, yet they have touched the Lord and eaten to the full. They are satisfied before God, and this satisfaction is their power.
How then can we be filled? How can we be satisfied? We need to know that all satisfaction is related to Christ and all satisfaction is in life. Christ is the bread of life. Whenever we touch life in a real way, we are immediately satisfied. Whenever we offend life, we immediately feel inwardly collapsed. We need to mention some concrete examples to see how man can be satisfied.
Some brothers say, “I have been busily working for more than one year, running here and there. I have been so busy that my whole being is drained. I am hungry, and I hope to go some place for a spiritual retreat.” But when we read John 4, we realize that there is something wrong with these words. The Lord Jesus Christ was wearied from His journey and sat by the well of Jacob. The disciples had gone into town to buy some food, which shows that the Lord was hungry. At the well He met a woman of Samaria. God’s will was for the Lord to speak to her and save her, and the Lord did it accordingly. When the disciples came back with the food they had bought, they invited the Lord to eat, but the Lord said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about” (v. 32). The disciples thought that someone else had given Him something to eat. Therefore, in the following verses the Lord said to the disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (v. 34).
From this we see that working should only make us full; working should not make us hungry. Spiritual work should make us full every time we engage in it. If we become hungry every time we work, there must be something wrong. If we feel weak or deflated after we have worked, or if we feel that we are collapsing, it shows that there must be something wrong with our work. If our work is not separated from God’s will, and if our work is not according to ourselves, every time we work, we will not collapse, but we will increase in strength. Many times there is not an adequate preparation before the Lord, and we begin to work because there is a great need from outside or because of others’ urging. When we work under such circumstances, something within us will collapse, and we will not have the strength. After we finish such a work, there is no strength left within us, because something has gone wrong between us and the Lord. The more we participate in any work outside of God’s will, the more hungry we will become. In order for us to be satisfied, we must follow God’s will.
We must realize that Christ is our bread; our bread is not spiritual retreats or scriptural doctrines. We do not work until we become empty, and then go away for a rest; this is not our bread. Christ is our bread. We do not preach until we run out of teachings to speak about, and then go and find some new doctrines; this is not our bread. Our bread is Christ. Whether or not we are busy, if we have a word and the strength within, every time we stand up to speak for Christ, not only will the listeners be filled, but we will be filled as well. This is the result of the Lord working in us and in our life. This is why we touch the Lord. Eventually, after we are done, we will not feel any emptiness. Instead, we will feel that we have eaten a big meal and are full. It is wrong if we think that satisfaction depends on resting, on listening to messages, or on spiritual retreats. Food comes when we allow the Lord to do what He wants to do in us. The Lord is within us. Let us touch His life, and we will be satisfied.
In spiritual matters, one is not fed when he is at ease; he is fed when he is busy. While we are busy, we are fed. In spiritual matters, when we walk in the Lord’s will, the busier we are, the more we will eat. We will not collapse through our busy schedules, and we will not become empty through these activities. I believe many brothers and sisters can testify of this. Suppose you talk to a person today, yet God has not moved in that direction; He has not spoken in you. Even though you may speak enthusiastically, after five or ten minutes of this kind of speaking, you will feel that something is wrong within. You may try to change the direction of your conversation because you feel that you cannot go on. Finally, when you leave, you will feel empty inside. There is nothing wrong with your words; the words are right, the attitude is also right, and you have tried your best to help. But the strange thing is that the more you speak, the emptier you become, and the more you feel that something has collapsed inside. When you leave, you will feel as though you have committed a big sin. Sometimes you may see some outward results and may feel that you have done a good work. But when these feelings pass away, you feel just as empty and hungry within. Whenever you do something by yourself, no matter how successful you are outwardly, inwardly you will feel deflated. Brothers and sisters, have you ever had this kind of deflated feeling? If your work is not done before the Lord, and if you are not following the Lord fearfully but are walking by yourself, even if you have the best motive or intention, you will still feel deflated and depleted of any spiritual vigor. You will feel as though the more you work, the more meaningless things become, and the more emptiness there is. Under such circumstances, the more others speak of your success, the worse you will feel inside. The more others praise you and mention the help they have received from you, the more you will hate yourself. This shows that your work is not a kind of bread, because it does not satisfy you. Brothers and sisters, those who know the bread are the ones who have found satisfaction in the Lord. Only Christ is the bread of life; only Christ can satisfy you. You will feel hungry with any work you have done if the work does not bring you in touch with the Lord. If you touch the Lord, if you touch life, and if you touch spiritual reality, whether or not you are busy, you will be able to say, “Thank and praise God. I have the bread. The Lord is my bread.” Brothers and sisters, have you seen this? This is absolutely not something outward. The question is not where you have gone, what you have done, what message you have spoken, or how long you have spent in spiritual devotions. The question is whether or not you have touched the Lord within. Whoever touches the Lord is satisfied.
Some brothers and sisters may say, “What should I do? The Lord has not called me to preach in any place or to work in any place. Those who give messages and work have the opportunity to be filled. But we are not professional preachers and workers. Are we going to go hungry?” Brothers and sisters, thank God we do not have to be hungry. We may be doing only the smallest things; we may speak only ten or twenty sentences to others, or may speak only ten or twenty minutes to others. But as long as it is something out of the Lord, and as long as we do these things according to the Lord’s operation in us, we will feel relieved and satisfied after we have done them. It is the Lord who gives us a burden, and once we unload the burden, we feel satisfied and full within. Once we touch God, we are satisfied and fed. Therefore, brothers and sisters, the workers do not have the exclusive right to eat; everyone has the chance to eat. Every day we have the opportunity to eat, and every day we also have the opportunity to be satisfied. Christ is our bread. When we touch Him, we have bread.
Let me mention a deeper example. We often think that something is good or spiritual, but this thing is not the Lord’s will. When we carry it out, we feel empty inside. We can only be satisfied when we follow the Lord. Once a brother saw another brother walking in a wrong way. More than once he felt the need to clearly point out to the brother that the way he was taking was not a way of building up, but a way of corruption. However, he wanted to be a gentle Christian. He thought the best way was for him to smile and speak a few sweet-sounding words to persuade the brother. But every time he spoke in such a way, he felt like a glass with a hole in the bottom—everything had leaked out. In man’s eyes, he did quite well; he was gentle, and he did not try to hurt anyone. In man’s eyes, he was successful. Yet he felt hungry and unsatisfied. After two or three months, he felt wrong and came to the Lord and prayed for light. He asked the Lord to point out where he had gone wrong. One day he said to the Lord, “Lord, I will do whatever You want me to do.” The Lord listened to his prayer and showed him what he should do. Later the other brother came again, and this one rebuked him severely. According to his nature, whenever he said a severe word to others, he would suffer for a few days. But the strange thing was that this time, the more severely he spoke, the more he felt he was touching the Lord. He also did not have to make a confession, which he always did after he rebuked others. Instead, he could praise the Lord. After he rebuked the other brother, he felt as though he had taken a good meal. This does not mean that we can rebuke others as much as we please. It is wrong to rebuke someone according to our will. However, it means that when we do anything according to the Lord’s will, we are filled within, and we become stronger than ever. This shows us a fact: the good that we can perform by ourselves is not our food. We may think that as long as we can be gentle, everything will be fine. But experience tells us that even if we act gently, it is only our outward man who is doing it. It is a performance by our outward man, and this cannot become our food. Only when the Lord moves in us and we move according to His will, can we receive food. Whenever we touch life, we have food, and whenever we touch the Lord, we have satisfaction.
CHRIST IS THE LIGHT OF LIFE
The Lord not only said that He is the bread of life, but He also said that He is the light of life. Food is for satisfaction, while light is for seeing. When one is satisfied, he has the strength, and when one sees, he can walk. We have seen how Christ is the bread of life. Now let us consider how Christ is the light of life.
First, we have to point out that the light of life is not the knowledge of the Bible. Everyone knows that as Christians, we should read the Bible properly. But if we read the Bible as a book of knowledge, a textbook of theology, we will merely gain knowledge. If we read the Bible this way, we may gain some doctrines from the Bible which are truly scriptural. Yet these are mere letters. At the time the Lord was born in Bethlehem, many priests and scribes could memorize the books of the prophets, but they did not know Christ. Today even though we have one book more than they, the New Testament, it is still possible for men to know only the letters of the Bible without knowing Christ. We are not saying that we should not read the Bible. But we need to realize that when we read the Bible, it is possible that we will gain only knowledge instead of knowing Christ. Many of the priests and scribes had only dead knowledge; they did not know the living Lord. Many people think that the light of life is just knowledge, doctrines, theology, or church dogmas. Some persons say that they have received some light, but the light they are speaking of is not necessarily the light of life. The light they are speaking of may only be interpretations of certain verses or certain teachings. At most they afford others a little more Bible knowledge. The light of life is not knowledge or anything other than the Lord Himself. The Lord said He Himself is the light of life. The light of life is the Lord Himself.
Brothers and sisters, many people can tell us from their experience that what they see in the light of life is often difficult to articulate. Interestingly, those who see it see it, yet they cannot say what they have actually seen. Once someone talked to a sister to find out if she was saved. He asked her a few questions. She answered, “When I was first saved, I did not know what it was, but I knew I was saved. If you believe that I am saved, I am saved, and if you do not believe that I am saved, I am still saved.” What she said is true. She was indeed saved, but she could not explain how she was saved. She knew it, but she could not explain it. Therefore, when the light comes, we may not be able to tell others many doctrines; it may be two or three years later before we can utter some doctrines or teachings. This light is the Lord Himself. When we see the Lord, we see the light.
What difference then does it make to us whether or not we see the light? What change will there be if we see the light? The difference is very great. If we truly see the light, we will fall to the ground. The light not only enlightens us but also kills us. Before Paul received the shining, it was not easy to put him on the ground. But once he received the shining, he fell. Some people always want to be humble. They try hard to be humble; they act humble in the way they speak and the way they act. But this kind of humility is very exhausting; even others feel exhausted for them. It is like a small child lifting a big dictionary; the book may not be very heavy, but it is exhausting for him to carry it. It is not easy for a proud man to be humble. It is not easy for us to fall down from the throne of pride. But once the light of the Lord shines on us, we fall immediately. We cannot explain it, but as soon as the light shines, we fall.
Teachings cannot make a man fall. A person can hear eight or ten teachings, and may even be able to recite them clearly and reasonably, but he remains the same. A message which should bring one to tears, or which should touch one’s carnal living and bring a man to his knees, can be turned into a subject of study, and a person may think that he has received something spiritual. When a doctrine becomes a thing, a teaching becomes a thing, and words become a thing, the result is death; it is not light. One brother was so happy after he heard the teachings of Romans 6 that he thought he had seen Romans 6. But after a few days, he and his wife fell into a big argument. The Romans 6 that he saw was a thing; it was letters from a book; it was not the light. If what he saw was light, he would not have been the same. He would fall down in the light. Light is piercing; it can do what a man cannot do. A teaching will not do it, the brothers and sisters will not be able to help, and our own effort will not achieve it. But the minute the light shines, everything is solved. We may say that we are very stubborn, but once the light shines, we will become soft. When John saw the light, he became as dead (Rev. 1:16-17). When Daniel saw the light, he fell toward the ground as dead (Dan. 10:5-9). No one can see the Lord’s face without falling down, and no one can see the Lord without becoming as dead. It is difficult to make ourselves die or to humble ourselves. But once the light shines, everything follows. The Lord’s light kills. Once a man receives the Lord’s light, he falls.
The Lord Jesus Himself is the light. Hence, when a man meets the Lord, he sees. When a man meets the Lord, he falls and becomes weak as though he were dead. With many people, their old personality is stubborn and has never been broken. It is useless for others to try to deal with their personality. It is also useless for them to try to deal with it themselves. However, once the Lord’s light shines on them, they receive sight and become broken men. Whenever a man sees the Lord, he becomes weak. Whenever a man sees the Lord, he is broken and cannot survive. This is the meaning of light. Brothers and sisters, we must never substitute any other thing for the light. What we usually speak of as light is not necessarily light itself. Most things are mere teachings and so-called truth. They do not have any spiritual value to us. Once a brother who loved the Lord very much met a man who said to him, “I am very glad because I found the doctrine of sin in Romans.” When the brother heard this he said, “Friend, did you only find the doctrine of sin in Romans today? I think you should have found the reality of sin in yourself long ago.” Many people are looking for doctrines, but they have not found the reality. Doctrines are mere words, and they are death. They are not light, they are not life, and they are not Christ.
When the light comes, the first thing it does is kill. We should not think that light only gives us sight. On the contrary, when the light comes, the first thing it does is to take away our sight. The light makes us see, but that is a later result. At first the light makes us blind and makes us fall; afterwards, we see. Anything that cannot make us fall to the ground is not the light. Anything that cannot humble us is not the light. Paul saw the light and fell to the ground, and his eyes could see nothing for three days (Acts 9:8-9). When we first encounter light, we become confused. When a person in darkness first sees light, he cannot distinguish anything; everything seems confusing to him. Anyone who is self-assured and who thinks he knows everything needs God’s mercy, because such a man has never seen the light. All that he knows are doctrines and knowledge. Once he sees the true light he will say, “Lord, what do I know? I know nothing.” The greater the revelation, the blinder one becomes, and the more severe a blow one suffers. Light makes a person humble; it makes a person fall. Only after this will a person see. If we have never suffered any blow and never been humbled, and if we have never been confused and never felt that we knew nothing, we have never encountered any light, and we are still in darkness. May the Lord have mercy on us so that His light may take away our self-assurance and so that we will not be so confident that we are right, that we are not wrong, and that we know so much. May we say before the Lord, “Lord, You are the light. Now I know that what I saw before was nothing but things.”
Light is not something abstract; it is something very concrete. The Lord Jesus is the light. When the Lord Jesus was among us, He was light among us, the very light walking among us. What a pity that to some Christians so many things are abstract. They hear this and that doctrine, but everything is abstract to them. They only know some abstract doctrines, but have not received any practical help.
One brother was studying in a parochial school when he was young. He went to church often and heard the teaching concerning salvation many times. Yet he had never met anyone who was saved, nor was he himself saved. One day he met a man preaching the gospel. When he heard the gospel the man preached, he was saved. He had not been saved earlier because he had heard only abstract doctrines. On that day, he met a genuinely saved person; he met something concrete, and he was saved.
One brother once related his experience of studying the Bible. He said, “I had heard many brothers and sisters speaking on sanctification, and I went to study the doctrine of sanctification. I found more than two hundred verses about holiness in the New Testament. I memorized them all and arranged them in proper order. Yet I still did not know what sanctification was; it was meaningless to me. Then one day I met an elderly sister who was a truly sanctified person. On that day my eyes were opened, and I saw what sanctification is. I met a person who was sanctification. The light was so bright that it hurt; when it came there was no way for me to escape. The light showed me the meaning of sanctification.”
From these experiences we can see that light is something concrete, living, and effective. If you merely convey doctrines to others, the result will be merely doctrines in them. This is dead, and this is not the light of life. The light of life will shine in their lives and will shine out from them. We must remember that with the Lord Jesus, light is something concrete. With us, it is also something concrete. This light is a living person. When this light appears, it is something living in us also.
Brothers and sisters, why does it seem as if God’s Word has lost its power in these days? Why does it appear so weak and abstract? The only reason is that there are too many doctrines! There is too much “truth” and too much knowledge of theology! We have to realize that only the living Lord can produce living persons. May the Lord truly have mercy on us to show us as the days go by that all things are dead and only the Lord is living. In Christianity even the nicest looking things, the sweetest sounding things, and the things men consider most spiritual are dead if they are outside of Christ. The Lord Himself should be everything in us. He Himself is everything. Only He is living. He is living in us, and when He is passed on to others, He will be living in them as well. May the Lord be merciful to us so that we will prostrate ourselves before Him. When we do this, we will know the Lord in a way different than we did before.