Posted by: dhkrause | July 21, 2014

The Bread of Life

Jesus bread of life

In John 6:48, Jesus declares, “I am the Bread of Life.” He continues in verse 51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

How does one eat of this bread of life? This is the subject of Jesus’ teaching to the crowd who came to Capernaum seeking him after the miracle of feeding the five thousand men and their families. Jesus begins by scolding them for being motivated by their desire for another free lunch, rather than by desiring to know the meaning of this sign:

John 6 (NKJV)
25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”
26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Some then began changing their focus to seek for the “food which endures to everlasting life”. So they asked Jesus what kind of works did they need to do to obtain this food. They did not yet grasp that the “work” God was looking for was that they believe in the Son whom He has sent:

28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

The people then requested that Jesus help them believe by performing a sign such as sending bread from heaven, similar to the manna people ate during their forty years in the desert:

30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” [Exodus 16:4; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:24]

Jesus draws a contrast between the manna their fathers ate in the wilderness, and the true bread from heaven:

32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Some of the listeners then believed that Jesus could give this food, but they had yet to realize that Jesus himself is both the giver and the gift. Jesus then describes the relationship between the Father and the Son of God, and declares it is the Father’s will that “everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life”:

34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Those who knew Jesus as the “son of Joseph” and also knew his mother wondered how he could claim to have come down from heaven. Jesus again describes the relationship of the Father and Son of God, and the crucial need for faith declaring, “he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Then he astounds them further by declaring, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Some of them misunderstood him to be speaking of cannibalism:

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ [Isaiah 54:13] Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

Jesus again declares that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” He is speaking of spiritual nourishment, as he clarifies by saying, “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me”:

53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. …   63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

F. F. Bruce writes, “The true sustenance and refreshment of our spiritual life are to be found only in him who died that we might live.” [The Gospel & Epistles of John, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, p. 160]

David Krause, dhkrause@neteze.com, https://compellinglove.net/, 7/20/14


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