Jesus is the Bread of
John 6:32-33, 41-59
Many years ago there was
a Scotsman who traveled to America. He took almost
all of his money and purchased passage on a great
ocean liner. In preparation for his trip he stocked
up on crackers, cheese and fruit before departure so
he would have a good stash on board for the trip.
After the ship set sail he did fairly well for the
first four or five days. However, the crackers
became stale, the cheese soft and moldy and the
fruit began to spoil. Finally, the old Scot got so
hungry he took some of his money and headed to the
dining room for a good meal. Imagine his surprise
when he found out that everything in the dining room
was included in the cost of the ticket. All that he
could have ever eaten was already included in the
price of his ticket from Scotland to America.
God has provided you with
all the essentials for eternal life without price
and without cost. Jesus Christ is the bread of life.
Among the vital signs of
physical life are the pulse, blood pressure, and
respiration. Breathing may be absent, shallow,
convulsive, or it may be deep, regular and life
sustaining. To sustain life we need a balanced diet.
Bread is called the staple of life. Men die without
What are the essentials
in your life? What do you really need in order to
exist? What do you think you need to be a happy,
healthy, meaningful person? Jesus made an
interesting observation: "Do not work for the food
which perishes, but for the food which endures to
eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you,
for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal" (John
6:27). The food that Jesus gives remains forever and
has the effect of producing life forever.
Is Jesus Christ as real
to you spiritually as something you can taste? Is He
as much a part of you as that which you eat?
BREAD IS THE SYMBOL OF
THE ESSENTIALS IN LIFE
The LORD God who created
us is able to satisfy our greatest and most
important needs in life. He is able to satisfy, and
will always satisfy the deepest longings of the
soul. Moreover, He has demonstrated His faithfulness
in the history of Israel.
Need for bread
delivered the Israelite slaves in Egypt. They hadn't
finished singing praises to God for His sovereign
deliverance before they started grumbling at Moses.
They came upon bitter water and the Lord showed
Moses a tree which he was instructed to throw it
into the waters and the waters became sweet. The
LORD demonstrated Himself as, "I, the LORD, am your
healer" (Exodus 15:22-26).
They wandered around in
the wilderness of Sin and after about fifteen days
they started whining, "Remember the good old days?"
The people began to grumble against Moses and the
LORD because their food supplies were running out.
The LORD rained down "bread from heaven." And the
Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "I have heard the
grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them,
saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the
morning you shall be filled with bread; and you
shall know that I am the Lord your God' "
(16:11-12). At evening God provided quail and in the
morning there was a layer of dew around the camp,
and "When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on
the surface of the wilderness there was a fine
flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground"
(v. 14). For the next forty years God fed them as
much as they could eat (v. 35). Moses said it "was
like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like
wafers with honey" (v. 31). It may have been like
corn flakes, or sugar frosted flakes.
They could have said the
same thing the apostle Paul said, "And my God will
supply all your needs according to His riches in
glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). Jesus said,
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you" (Matt.
6:33). Hanna Amada says, "When the Lord has His hand
in your mouth you are fed generously."
Jesus fed 5,000
A great multitude of
people kept on following Jesus because they were
continually seeking the signs He was continually
performing on the sick (John 6:1-15). A "great
multitude" was coming to Jesus, and He said to
Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, that these may
eat?" Jesus knew what He was intending to do. Philip
said we have two days wages on hand to buy food, but
that is not sufficient for such a number of people.
Andrew said, "There is a lad here with five barley
loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many
people?" Matthew 14:21 tells us there were about
5,000 men who ate, aside from the women and
Jesus gave thanks for the
little mess of fish and bread and began distributing
it to those who were seated. They didn't just get a
taste of fish; John tells us they ate "as much as
they wanted." He provided all they could eat. "When
they were filled," satisfied with enough to eat,
they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers. These
were not scraps on the ground, but pieces, broken by
Jesus in the baskets. He always provides more than
enough. I wonder who ate the leftovers.
A. T. Robertson once
said, "If Jesus is in reality Lord of the universe
as John tells us (Jn. 1:1-18) and Paul holds (Col.
1:15-20), why should we balk at this miracle? He who
created the universe surely has power to go on
creating what He wills to do."
After feeding the people
Jesus withdrew to the mountain away from the people
because they were ready to seize Him and make Him
king (v. 15). The next day Jesus used this miracle
to teach a great spiritual truth about Himself.
JESUS IS THE TRUE
BREAD FROM HEAVEN
We all know that bread is
necessary for life. In the time of Christ bread was
the only staple in most people's diets. Without
bread, men died.
Jesus now sets forth
clearly that He is the One whom men and women could
not do without. You cannot do without Him. You
remain spiritually dead without Him. He is the life,
and He in truth is all you need.
Jesus is the bread
that satisfies (John 6:32-33)
The next day when the
people found Jesus they wanted another free meal on
wheels. If He did it once, can He do it twice? Go
ahead and show us! The rabbis had taught that when
the Messiah came He would duplicate the miracle of
giving the manna. The Midrash Rabba taught, "What
did the first redeemer do? He brought down the
manna. The last redeemer will also bring down
Jesus knew they were out
to manipulate Him, so He offered them "food which
endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall
give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has
set His seal" (v. 27). They then insisted on another
"sign" to prove His credentials. "Our fathers ate
the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He
gave them bread out of heaven to eat' " (v. 31).
Jesus spoke of the fact that He was God's gift to
men and that God desired men to believe in Him. They
said they would believe in Him if He could do what
Moses did and feed them again.
Who gave the manna? Not
Moses, God. Moreover, the manna was not true bread
from the true heaven. It was earthly bread from a
visible sky that God provided. Jesus then said to
them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses
who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is
My Father who gives you the true bread out of
heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes
down out of heaven, and gives life to the world"
Their immediate response
was to ask Him to give them more of this bread.
Jesus then clarifies the kind of bread He is
offering which is true bread that alone satisfies
the genuine hunger of the human soul.
Jesus said to them, "I am
the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not
hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do
not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come
to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly
not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not
to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all
that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up
on the last day. For this is the will of My Father,
that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in
Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise
him up on the last day" (vv. 35-40).
That was one piece of
bread that was hard for the crowd to swallow. They
wanted fish now, not eternal life.
"I am the bread of life
that came down out of heaven," Jesus said. He was
claiming that He alone could meet the essential
needs of our lives. "I am the bread of life." In
chapter four He said He was the "living water;" now
He is the living bread.
This is the first of the
seven "I-am" sayings in the gospel of John. In seven
passages Jesus provides a clear predicate noun to
describe Himself in these solemn pronouncements.
· I am the
bread of life (6:35; cf. vv. 41, 48, 51)
· I am the
light of the world (8:12; cf. vv. 18, 23)
· I am the
gate for the sheep (10:7, 9)
· I am the
good shepherd (10:11, 14)
· I am the
resurrection and the life (11:25)
· I am the
way and the truth and the life (14:6)
· I am the
true vine (15:1, 5)
The great multitude of
people desired heavenly bread as the rabbis had
interpreted. Jesus is the precious gift of eternal
life. "I am the bread of life" (v. 48). "I am the
living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone
eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the
bread also which I will give for the life of the
world is My flesh" (v. 51).
Just as the water Jesus
offers quenches all thirst, so the bread He offers
banishes all hunger.
Since God is truly the
source of true heavenly bread, and since God has
sent Jesus, therefore the bread of God is a person,
the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who comes down
The Jewish people
understood that Christ was saying He was of divine
origin. "I am the bread which came down from
heaven." His "I am" is a solemnly emphatic
statement. Jesus took the name of God at the burning
bush and linked it with the symbol of perfect
sustenance for human life. No one but Jesus Christ
can make that claim. He is identifying Himself with
the Jehovah or LORD in the Old Testament. He is
demonstrating absolute deity. He is saying, "I am
what every sinner needs, and without what I provide
he will perish eternally. I am alone that which can
satisfy the soul and bring eternal life." "Your
fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead."
In contrast, "I am the living bread which came down
from heaven." The inference is that we should feed
upon Him and grow. He alone is what is necessary for
our spiritual life.
Jesus' words are strong
and emphatic. "No room is left for the spiritual
hunger and thirst after receiving Christ." Jesus
said, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me
will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will
never thirst" (v. 35). Weymouth translates the
double negative, "shall never, never thirst." That
does not exclude the reality for spiritual things,
but it does rule out the possibility of unsatisfied
spiritual hunger. As we sense fresh new spiritual
needs in our lives the Holy Spirit satisfies those
needs as we feast on the living bread. Jesus is the
bread of life and we are invited to come to Him, and
to believe on Him.
Eternal life is the life
of God. It is without end because He is without end.
It is His kind of life. Nothing will ever separate
the believer from God once we receive it by faith in
Christ. When we are saved we enter into a
life-transforming, vital union with Christ. This new
life Christ gives us is His life and we go on
receiving it in increased abundance from the moment
we are regenerated throughout eternity. We are
filled with "all the fullness of God." According to
Ephesians 3:19, "God promises to enlarge our
spiritual capacities until the full life of the
infinite Christ is reproduced in us." As we feed
upon Christ, we receive strength for daily living.
Our daily life is to be lived in Christ's power
after we receive Him as our Savior.
Jesus said, "All that the
Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who
comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (v. 37).
Jesus keeps the believers
whom the Father has given into His care. "The one
who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" is
about the protecting and nurturing ability of Jesus.
Jesus adds, "For I have come down from heaven, not
to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me"
(v. 38). Jesus will never lose a single one of those
who have come to Him (cf. 10:1-18). "My Father, who
has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no
one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand"
(10:29; cf. 17:2, 4, 6, 9).
The emphasis Jesus is
making is that all those who have come into Jesus
and believed will never be lost. God the Father
gives divine bread, and whoever eats of it will live
forever. "For this is the will of My Father,
that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in
Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise
him up on the last day" (v. 40).
Jesus will not lose a
single one the Father gives Him. "No one can come to
Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I
will raise him up on the last day" (v. 44). Because
we are dead in our trespasses and sins we cannot
come to Him unless the Father draws us. It is the
work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and
bring about spiritual birth so we can come to Him.
The Father draws us to the Son in order to be saved.
When man fell every part of his being was affected.
No one can influence God in any manner, or merit a
right relationship with Him. We are all slaves to
sin, estranged from God. Our only hope is in God. We
need His help. Unless He takes the initiative we can
never be saved.
The unregenerate sinner
is so depraved that unless the Holy Spirit changes
the heart and mind he will never come to Christ. It
is absolutely essential that this change comes about
and only God can produce it. It is, therefore, by
divine "drawing" that anyone comes to Christ. It is
the power of the Holy Spirit awakening within him a
sense of need, overcoming the arrogant pride of the
natural man so that he will humble himself and
believe on Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who creates
within the lost person a hunger for the bread of
No individual can come to
Jesus unless the Father draws him. God takes the
initiative in salvation. This is one of the great
essential doctrines of the Gospel of John.
The natural man likes to
feel independent. They think they have the ability
to come to Jesus on their own volition, but Jesus
assures us that this is an absolutely impossible. No
man can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him.
This impossibility is explicitly clear here.
The approach of the soul
to God or Christ is not initiated by man himself,
but by a movement of God's grace. God brings men to
Himself. The work of the Holy Spirit is triumphant.
Calvin speaks of "an
effectual movement of the Holy Spirit, turning men
from being unwilling and reluctant into willing."
Godet said, "The God who sends Jesus for souls, on
the other hand, draws souls to Jesus. The two divine
works, external and internal, answer to and complete
each other. The happy moment when they meet in the
heart, and in which the will is thus gained, is that
of the gift on God's part, of faith on man's part."
In reality faith is also from God.
Since Jesus is the true
bread—the individual who is spiritually hungry must
consume this bread.
APPROPRIATING THE TRUE
BREAD OF HEAVEN
This living bread
has to be eaten. Jesus explains:
Truly, truly, I say to
you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the
bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the
wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which
comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it
and not die. I am the living bread that came down
out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will
live forever; and the bread also which I will give
for the life of the world is My flesh" (vv. 47-51).
Jesus emphasizes in verse
fifty that this "eating" is a singular event, a
decision to believe and appropriate the gift of
eternal life. Jesus is the living bread that came
down through His incarnation, and the sinner must
eat this bread which is the decisive moment he
believes. It is a once for all decision. "Eat"
refers to appropriating Christ. It is believing on
Him as your Savior. Any person who takes this
decisive action will live forever.
So Jesus said to them,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the
flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you
have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and
drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise
him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food,
and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and
drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the
living Father sent Me, and I live because of the
Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because
of Me. This is the bread which came down out of
heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats
this bread will live forever" (vv. 53-58).
Referring to His
incarnation, Jesus said He is the living bread that
came down from heaven, and it is His blood that we
drink. He is referring to His death. "Jesus is flesh
offered in sacrifice." Jesus is giving Himself for
the world. He offers Himself up as a sacrifice
(10:11, 15; 11:51-52; 15:13; 17:19; 18:14). His
"gift" is a sacrifice, a blood sacrifice that will
atone for the sins of the world. Earlier Jesus was
described as the "Lamb of God" that takes away the
sin of the world. Our salvation depends on the
sacrificial death of Jesus. That is the living
We have hope because
Jesus Christ died for our sin and rose from the
dead. In His resurrection we now have eternal life.
In His righteousness, through His sacrificial death,
we are now reckoned righteous in the sight of a holy
and loving God.
When we eat His flesh and
drink His blood, we assimilate by faith the great
provision God has made for us in the death of
Christ. He is not referring to "sacraments," but to
those who see Him and believe in Him. This is a
powerful and vivid metaphor teaching us how to come
to Christ and believe on Him. It is a picture of
appropriating Him by faith.
His death is mine when I
believe on Him. It becomes life to me. I make Him
mine forever by an act of faith. I cannot receive
Him a second time because He never leaves me.
Have you eaten?
A. W. Pink suggested
several practical applications of this figure of
Eating is essential if we
are to take advantage of the bread freely offered.
Unless I eat the bread will not nourish me. I may
examine it, study it, smell it, read up on it, but
it is useless unless I eat it. I will not be
nourished unless I eat it. All the knowledge in the
world about Jesus Christ will avail me nothing until
I "eat" Him. Knowing the truth about Him,
speculating and arguing about it, talking about it
will do you and me no good until we believe on
When we eat we answer to
a hunger. When we are really hungry we don't grumble
and complain; we eat. When the Holy Spirit awakens
our spiritual need we feast on Christ. Without the
bread of heaven Jesus offers we perish eternally.
When the Holy Spirit creates the hunger within us we
promptly and gladly receive Him.
appropriation. I do not assimilate the bread into my
body until I eat. I must make the food my own. When
it becomes a part of me through the digestive
process I gain strength. Christ may be beautiful,
attractive, and appealing to me, but until I humble
myself and receive Him as mine, I am still without
spiritual life He gives. "Not until I appropriate
Him, not until I receive Him as mine, shall I be
saved. Then, He who before was outside, will indwell
me." Only then can I know Him as the bread of life,
nourishing my soul.
Eating is an individual
activity. It is something no one else can do for me.
Watching others eat a nourishing meal will not do
anything for me. No one can receive Jesus Christ for
you and me. It is a personal act. "Unless you have
'eaten' the Bread of life, unless you have
personally received Christ as yours, it has all
availed you nothing." Jesus said, "If any man eat
this bread, he shall live forever."
"There are many strong
believers in hell, and on the road to hell; but they
are those who believe a lie, and not the truth as it
is in Christ Jesus." Christ crucified, who is now
alive for evermore is the only one who can save you.
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is
no other name under heaven that has been given among
men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
If you are only eating
physical food you will only prolong your earthly
life and die. However, when you eat the bread of
life you obtain the bread of God and you will never
die spiritually. In verse fifty Jesus emphasized the
once-for-all action of receiving Christ. I eat His
flesh and drink His blood when I believe that His
death is the perfect sacrifice for my sins. I
believe in His vicarious substitutionary atonement
for my sins. In that moment He saves me for all
eternity. In that moment that I believe what Jesus
did for me I spiritually eat His flesh and drink His
blood. In that moment God give us eternal life and
we are regenerated spiritually.
So Jesus said to them,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the
flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you
have no life in yourselves" (v. 53). Christ is
referring to His vicarious, substitutionary
sacrifice of Himself for us that we receive by
faith. To have "no life" in Christ is to continue in
spiritual death. To believe on Him is the means of
receiving eternal life.
Jesus said you must feed
upon Him. We eat Him by believing on Him, committing
our lives to Him, taking Him into ourselves so that
He becomes a part of you and you of Him. We eat and
drink Christ when we say, "Lord Jesus, I want You as
my Savior. I realize that You died for me on the
cross and I want Your death to stand in for my
death. I give myself to You. Receive me as Your
follower." Faith in Christ means to commit yourself
OUR DAILY BREAD
When we appropriate Jesus
Christ by faith as our Savior He gives us assurance
that He will raise us up at the last day (v. 54).
"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has
eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last
day." When you trusted in Christ God placed His
eternal life within you and will keep you until the
last day. But Jesus is also emphasizing that this
heavenly bread is to be enjoyed here and now as we
also anticipate the age to come. The true sustenance
and refreshment of our spiritual life are to be
found only in Him who died that we might live. We
feed on Him by faith in the reading and the hearing
of the Word of God.
The believer must feast
on the bread of life. Jesus lived in humble
dependence on the Father and set the example for us.
We, too, must live our daily life in total humble
dependence on Christ.
The marvelous thing about
the life in Christ is that He is great enough and
glorious enough so that you will never exhaust Him
in this life or in the next. He knows you and what
you need and how to meet it. There is power in the
name of Jesus Christ. It is His life that sustains
us in our most difficult journeys through life. We
come to Him when we are tired, weary and exhausted
and He gives us our daily strength. "Come to Me, all
who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you
rest" (Matt. 11:28). You don't' get that strength in
human teachers. Christ alone gives us this daily
supply. Come feed upon Christ in His great glory.
Is Christ as real to you
spiritually that sometimes you can taste Him? Is He
so real to you at times that if it were possible you
could reach out and touch Him? How few Christians
really feed upon Christ. He is the only One who can
make us grow spiritually.
How do we eat and
drink Christ daily?
Jesus taught His
disciples to pray, "Give us today our daily bread."
When you believe on Christ as your Savior, it is the
beginning of a whole new life that brings about a
living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ which
is to grow by feeding upon Him every day. Give us
"today" and do it "daily" stresses the idea of
repeated requests. He can give us "our daily bread"
because He is "the bread of life." He invites us to
come daily with our most important needs. Do you
pray daily, "Lord, give me the spiritual bread that
comes down from heaven and satisfies my soul"?
"He who eats My flesh and
drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him" (v. 56).
There is no mystical power, or something meritorious
in the act of eating. The nourishing spiritual power
is in the food eaten. The object of our faith is
Jesus Christ. Jesus is using language that denotes a
faith-union by a mutual indwelling. The apostle Paul
spoke of a "coinherence" of Jesus and His believers.
We are cocrucified, coburied, coresurrected with
Christ. John repeatedly expressed this experience by
use of the verb meno, "abide," "remain," or
"dwell" (15:4). Again, the apostle Paul says the
same thing when he uses the phrases "in Christ" or
"Christ in me." In 1 John 2:24 the apostle John
tells us believing in Christ and keeping Jesus'
commandments are two things which cannot be
separated. There is no true faith in Christ without
obedience. John places a great emphasis on this
mutual indwelling of Christ and the believer in
The saved sinner is
brought into a vital union with Christ whereby we
can enjoy the most intimate fellowship with Him. It
is only the one who "eats" and "drinks" constantly
that abides in unbroken fellowship with Christ. We
feed upon the risen Christ.
The true bread of life
feeds our souls eternally. He gives us "supernatural
food" (1 Cor. 10:3). It always points to Christ.
Every time we remember that Christ died for us we
feed on Him in our heart by faith with thanksgiving.
Jesus stresses the continuous appropriation of His
flesh and blood. To eat and drink for a Jewish
person was to share in and partake of the privileges
of friendship. It is our responsibility to daily
eat, appropriate the spiritual food Jesus provides
through His sacrifice on the cross. He has made a
perfect daily provision for our every spiritual
need. He invites us to come daily and feast upon His
How do I "eat" my
You can't appropriate
Christ daily until you get to know Him daily. You
have to get into the Scriptures that tell about Him.
Has Jesus Christ become your daily bread? We feed
ourselves on Christ daily by cherishing and obeying
His Word. His words are spiritual, life-giving food.
Read the Gospels out loud
to yourself. Read it repeatedly. Read it with
emphasis and feeling. Pause and think about what you
just read. Pray over what you have read. Ask the
Holy Spirit to make your mind receptive to the word
of God. Pay close attention to words. Never miss the
significant ones. Use your dictionary if you do not
know what it means. Trace the meaning of the key
words with the marginal references and your
concordance. Talk the words through; think the words
through. If you are extroverted talk out loud to
yourself. Compare one word with another. Look it up
in another place in the Scriptures so you can begin
to see the meaning of the passage. Go back and read
the passage over and over and over until the focus
of your concentration is upon Christ and the
Scriptures. Become so familiar with the passage you
can "see" it in your mind's eye. Use your sanctified
imagination and make Jesus Christ preeminent in your
mind and heart. Don't forget to yield to Him and do
what you know is the right thing to do.
We need to meditate often
on the meaning of His death and resurrection for us.
We need to get into His
Word daily and find Christ in it. Check out the
"Christ in the Old Testament" series on this website
which are short studies on the person and work of
Christ. The daily devotional series "Selah" is
also good starters.
Develop an intimate,
personal, communication with Jesus on a daily basis.
Learn to talk to him throughout the day. Draw from
His person by abiding in Him.
The very life I live now
I live by faith in Christ. It is His life in me. The
apostle Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with
Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me; and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Paul was feasting on Christ.
How is your spiritual
appetite? Do you find yourself grumbling and
complaining or feasting on Christ? Do you find
yourself grumbling in a spiritual desert of your own
making? To what extent are you feeding on Christ? We
"eat" His flesh and "drink" His blood by meditating
on Him, by dwelling on His Word, and by resting our
faith on Him.
6:32-33, 41-59 Exodus 16:1-19 Jesus is the Bread of
Series: Life of