The Bread of Life


John 6:35–40 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

The passage following the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-15) is this passage where Jesus makes the statement, “I am the bread of life.”  (John 6:22-59)  The NLT has the passage going from v. 22 to v. 59.  The location of this teaching is “the synagogue in Capernaum.”  (v. 59)  The crowd that Jesus had fed the bread and fish comes seeking Jesus on the other side of the lake from Tiberias.  Jesus understood that their motivation was to get a free meal (v. 26).  They don’t understand the significance of Jesus’ miraculous signs (v. 26).  His admonition to the crowds is to “Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.”  (v. 27)

Eternal life is Jesus’ most profound gift, which the Father authorized God the Son to give.  Jesus tells the crowd that they should not be so concerned about perishable things, but rather about eternal things.  Physical bread is perishable; the gift of Jesus is himself, the bread of life.  (v. 35)

The crowd responds, “We want to perform God’s works too.  What should we do?”  Jesus’ answer, “Believe in the One God has sent.”  (v. 29)  Faith in the Son of God is the only work that God wants from us.

The core of Jesus argument begins at v. 32.  The crowd challenges Jesus to show them a miraculous sign.  They claim that Moses fed them manna in the wilderness.  They recognize the connection between Jesus’ miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the manna in the wilderness, but they still don’t understand the signficance of the sign.

Jesus points out that Moses did not give them the manna, but that God did.  “And now he offers you the true bread from heaven.  The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  The most important search is to seek and to find the true bread of life.  The image of Jesus as the bread of life clearly connects this passage to the Lord’s Supper.

“Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.  Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  Jesus is the true manna from heaven.  He satisfies the spiritual hunger of those who believe in him.  Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so that the world may live, is my flesh.”  (v. 51)  The gift that brings eternal life is Jesus’ own offering of himself on the cross.  On the cross, Jesus died for our sin, that is the sin of the whole world.

The words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper are not repeated in John, instead, we have this passage which firmly links Communion with Jesus’ self-sacrificial work upon the cross.  So Jesus concludes, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you… But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person up at the last day.”  Jesus answered the question the people asked (6:52).  His words hint at the Lord’s Supper.  Receiving the Lord’s Supper means no less than embracing Jesus’ life-giving sacrifice upon the cross.



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