The sixth chapter of John in the New Testament describes how a crowd came to Jesus, expecting him to feed them. Instead, Jesus disappointed them by saying they should seek him, the true “bread of life” that came down from heaven. His words confused first listeners but attained new meaning in light of his death. Today, many churches have games, crafts and activities to help Christians understand that sentiment.
The Bread for All People
In this simple activity for preschoolers and kindergarteners, arrange a table full of bread from different countries, such as pumpernickel, naan and baguettes. Allow students to sample each of the breads and show them on a map the country from which the bread originates. Explain to them that bread is important to everyone in all nations, and when Jesus said he was the bread of life, he wanted people to know he didn’t just come to save one group or nation but people from all places.
Jesus the Provider
Provide handouts to grade-school children with illustrated outlines of three different kinds of bread, with each one containing a blank space inside where they can write. Explain to them people have different needs, such as physical needs, social needs and emotional needs. No one could live without bread in the world in which Jesus lived so when he called himself the bread of life, he was saying he provides for all those needs. Within the first loaf, have each child list one material need she has; in the second, have each list a relational need and in the third one, an emotional need. Alternately, ask the child to think of different people she knows who have these different needs. Then lead the class in a single prayer for each person or need listed and thank God for being present.
Daily Bread Boxes
Purchase enough small wood or plastic boxes for everyone in the class. Explain to them that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” and later clarified he meant not just the food people eat but the joy of knowing God daily. Jesus has made God available to meet both spiritual and physical needs. When someone is anxious, depressed or lonely, that person may turn to him. Have each child write a verse on paper reminding him of God’s care and provision, and paste it on the side of the box. Then ask each kid to tear off strips of paper, write two or three prayer requests and place them in the box. Allow him to keep the box as a reminder that God is faithful to listen.
Feeding Frenzy Game
In this game for students in elementary and middle school, set up a simple obstacle course in a classroom, including objects for them to step around and over. Split the group into two teams. Place one team at the end of the obstacle course and the other team at the start. Give each member of the starting team a small box or laundry hamper filled with bread and crackers. This team must work together to get through the course to the other side where the second team is waiting with food. Once they have done this, have the teams switch places and play the game again. After the game is over, explain to them that Jesus is able to reach and provide for them no matter where they are or how difficult their circumstances appear to be, and sometimes other people are his partners in improving the lot of others, which is why they need to work together with him and others.