Bread and wine – these were the elements chosen by Jesus to teach us about His dying love. The bread speaks to us of Jesus’ body broken for us. The wine speaks to us of Jesus’ blood shed for us.
Jesus used bread and wine to proclaim His salvation. He did this at the Last Supper, but that wasn’t the first time that Jesus had used bread and wine as visual aids to help us to understand the meaning of His salvation. Before the Last Supper, there were the miracles of turning water into wine and the feeding of the five thousand.
(1) The miracle of turning water into wine, along with the cleansing of the Temple, proclaims the miracle of the new birth. It leads us into the words of Jesus – “You must be born again” (John 3;3).
- The contrast between the water and the wine speaks to us of the contrast between “that which is born of the flesh” and “that which is born of the Spirit.”
- The transformation of the water into wine speaks of the new birth which Jesus came to bring us: “Mild He lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.” This great miracle of turning water into wine prepares us to hear what Jesus says to us concerning being born again, born anew, born of God, born from above, born with a heavenly birth.
(2) The meaning of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is summed up in the words of Jesus – “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
Jesus did not perform this miracle to impress the crowd. This miracle created for Him another opportunity to teach the people the real significance of His miracles and the real meaning of faith.
The Lord speaks of Himself as the Bread of Life. He gives eternal life to all who put their faith in Him. By speaking of Himself in this way, He highlights the Gospel character of this miracle.
At the heart of the miracle story, there is, in John 6:4, a short sentence, which we could easily overlook: “Now, the Passover, the feast of the Jews was at hand.” We must not overlook this fact. It points us forward to the Lord’s Supper, which also took place at the time of the Passover.
“When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13) – Jesus fulfilled this!
Now, the Lord’s Supper, the feast of the Christians, is at hand. May God grant that your understanding of and experience of Christ’s love will be deepened and enriched through our looking together at these two great miracles.