Bible Reading: John 6:22-54
We should remember that the purpose of John’s Gospel is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” [John 20:31]. Throughout John’s Gospel the deity of Jesus is the clear focus. There are seven testimonies of different people affirming the deity of Jesus Christ. There are seven signs that point to His deity, and there are seven “I am” sayings that point to the deity of Christ. The first of these sayings is “I am the bread of life” [John 6:35,48,51].
Bread is a staple food, and a basic dietary item, and therefore synonymous with food in general and necessary food. By equating Himself with bread Jesus is saying that He is essential for life. The bread that He gave to the five thousand was physical bread that perishes but Jesus is the spiritual bread that brings eternal life. In this sense it is different to the manna in the wilderness. The Israelites ate the manna but still died. Those who eat this bread shall never hunger [v.35], and those who eat it shall live forever [v.51].
The people must have thought Jesus was crazy to say that they must eat His flesh. Obviously it does not mean to physically eat His body, so what then does it mean? Here are some clues:
“But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. Believe in the one he has sent” [John 6:27,29 NLT]. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me (in faith) will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” [John 6:35 NLT]. “For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life” [John 6:40 NLT].
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life” [John 6:47 NLT].
Each of these verses speaks of believing on Jesus and thus receiving eternal life. Jesus also says that unless we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man we cannot have eternal life, and that anyone who eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life [John 6:53-54]. What Jesus is saying is that eternal life is only received by believing on Him. Our faith is in His death (the sacrifice of His flesh) and in His resurrection! It is more than to believe about Him; it is to depend upon Him, to trust Him and adhere to Him. That is likened to eating His flesh and drinking His blood. We are to come to Him, believe on Him, feed on Him, and be united with Him. His life becomes our life. Through faith Christ now lives His life in us!
How would you answer someone who asked you if it is true that Christians eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus?
In what way does the phrase, “I am the bread of life” express the fact that Jesus is God?
Why was the crowd so excited by the sign when Jesus fed them with the loaves and fish but became upset when Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life and offered them spiritual bread?