In the Gospel of John chapter 6 we have the verses that reveal Jesus as the Bread of Life.
This takes place the day after Jesus fed the 5,000 with five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus perceived that the people had been following Him because of the miracles He had done, but that they were much more interested in the occasion of His feeding them.
Verse 15 says "Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again into the hills by Himself."
The following day He and the disciples were at Capernaum. Those who had been fed followed them across the lake.
Were they seeking Jesus because they believed He was the Christ, the very Son of God who came to die for their sins; did they understand the supernatural power shown in the healing of the sick, the release of the captives, the forgiveness of sin. Had they no fear of God as they witnessed the feeding of 5,000, that only a special miracle by God's Almighty power was evidenced through this man of God. Did they just see a free meal, a man who could provide for them - was this the answer to their selfish prayers, a life of leisure.
In this great sermon of Jesus, He perceives all this and exhorts them to things beyond their bellies, to things spiritual and everlasting. Let us listen to the Master.
"26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
27 Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30 They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35 ¶ And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41 ¶ The Jews then murmured at 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 saith, I came down from heaven?
43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48 I am that bread of life.
49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
52 ¶ The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Caper'na-um.
60 ¶ Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
We see here Jesus trying to bring sinful, selfish, carnal men to an understanding, a realization of things spiritual; to remind them that they had originally been created in the image of God, made for communication with God. He wanted to make them rise above their fleshly appetites.
Christ teaches from the great lessons of the Old Testament that the things spoken of and the events in Israel's history spoke of Him, and prefigured what He was here to do.
God giving the people manna from heaven was a mighty and gracious blessing of that without which the people would not have lived. So great was God's love and mercy.
Jesus tried to explain that the gift from God that He Himself was - is such a gift - full of power and might, and mercy and graciousness and love - and so much greater - that this Bread from Heaven endureth unto everlasting life.
How clear Jesus makes this Gospel message. He is the living bread. We are to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Many have trouble with these almost cannibalistic sounding words. Many of the disciples then and there went from Jesus. Many today do not like, nor understand Communion and avoid it continuously - and never bother to find the truth.
Jesus teaches us in simple ways that we might understand, and yet so many cannot see beyond the flesh.
Jesus said "It is the spirit that quickened; the flesh profited nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
If you were starving and someone offered you a loaf of bread, how long would you question the brand, how old it was, or what you could do to get it. How long would you hold it in your hands, and look at it and smell it. What good would that do? Would it stop you from dying? In order to live we must eat - we must take the bread into our mouths and chew it, and digest it - as it becomes a part of us it is used for life. Everyone understands this.
If you were dying in your sins, and someone offered you forgiveness, yes life eternal in the living Bread from Heaven which is Jesus Christ, how long would you question the denomination, the social advantages and disadvantages, or what you had to do to earn such a gift (as if a gift had to be earned)? How long would you think about it; how long would you go to church and hear about it, hold the Living Word in your hands, and look at it from all angles? What good would that do? Would it stop you from dying in your sins? To live, Jesus clearly tells us, we must take Him into us - we must open our hearts to Him - we must make Him a very part of our lives, and this every day - He must be our daily bread - that we might have everlasting life, beginning now. He said that whosoever accepts His life of sacrifice, His death for us on the cross "dwelleth in me, and I in him." We are to read these Holy Scriptures for they are words that speak of Jesus - "they are spirit, they are life." They feed our spirits.
Is this not the Lord's teaching through the Last Supper - our communion.
As Paul writes in I Corinthians 11:23-26.
23. I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:
24: And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.
It is only by Christ's death that we have eternal life. We are never to forget it. Paul goes so far as to describe the Church in I Corinthians 10:17 thus "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."
One question that continues to arise is - "I can't understand all that, so shall I wait until I can?" We really don't understand all of anything. Seldom do we wait for understanding to try anything. A starving man does not question all the ingredients and processes of baking and mixing before he takes the bread and eats it.
Another problem was shown in the verse where they asked Jesus "What shall we do?" Even today many think that they must earn salvation, that they must be good enough or go to church enough to get into heaven. Jesus answered them, and us - "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." It is God's gift. Truly it is an insult to God and His gift - which is Bread - living, life-giving, Heaven-sent Jesus Christ that while we were yet sinners and enemies of God He offered up His sinless and Holy Son for us. There is no eternal life separate from the Person of Jesus Christ.
In faith, believing, as a little child, we must accept this Bread as broken, that it is Christ's broken body that pays for our manifold sins. That this living bread is our daily portion and sustenance for our spiritual life. We must read of Jesus daily, we must pray to Him daily and build each other up in the faith by witnessing to our living relationship with our Lord.
If any have seen and heard of this bread but never partaken of Him - listen to the words of Jesus:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Jesus Christ wants to be a part of our daily lives. This is the depth of His love. He says "I will come in."
We cannot but adore and praise a God so merciful - that He would do all this for us and still more that He wants to give us Himself - yes - and this indeed is life eternal. To be raised at the last day - and to be given the hidden manna to eat in that day.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.