Jesus is the Bread of Life

If we had the opportunity to invite Jesus Christ to come and speak to us - I wonder what He would talk about?

Since the Passover season is near, Jesus might just talk about bread and He would tell us to turn to John chapter 6.

In John 6 Jesus describes Himself as the Bread of Life and in the process of telling us that He is the Bread of Life, He answers the question of where He came from and who He is.

John 6:1 "After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias."

There was a town built on the west side of the lake by Herod and he named it Tiberias in honor of the Emperor.

John 6:2 "Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. "

Jesus had a large following and many of these people wanted to see the miracles and healings that Jesus did.

John 6:3 "And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples."

Some times Jesus would try to escape the large crowds by going to a remote area. This verse tells us that He went upon a mountain. This could have been a hilly region around the Sea of Galilee.

John 6:4 "Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near."

The Jews referred to the term "Passover" as the day of Passover and the entire seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is significant in the view of the dialogue that is going to follow regarding bread.

Jesus' message on bread is significant when we view it in relation to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Notice the term: "a feast of the Jews." As we can seen from Leviticus 23:1-2, these Holy Days are the "Feasts of the Lord" and are God's Holy Days.

The Jews, at this point in time, were primarily the only ones keeping the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, because the other Ten Tribes had been scattered and lost (James 1:1).

John 6:5 "Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"

Whenever I read this passage I am struck with the idea that Jesus is a very generous and hospitable person. He is thinking about feeding His guests and to care for their needs.

Luke records in his Gospel account that there was a small town by the name of Bethsaida and that it was a desert area and Matthew records that this was a wilderness area.

Why were there so many people in this area? Probably these people were on their way to Jerusalem to keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

John 6:6, But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do."

It appears that Jesus is going to teach Philip a valuable lesson and test his faith.

John 6:7, "Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.""

Philip made a quick calculation. A denarii was a worker's daily wage. Maybe the 200 denarii was all the money in the disciples' treasury box.

John 6:8 "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him. {9} "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"

Barley bread loaves were inferior to wheat bread and was usually eaten by the poor.

John 6:10, "Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand."

This was in the spring of the year before the hot summer and there "was much grass in the place."

Notice that Jesus did not have them sit in a mud hole but had them sit on the grass which would have been a clean environment to eat a meal.

This passage mentions 5,000 men, so when you include women and children the number could have been 15,000 or more.

John 6:11 "And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. {12} So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." {13} Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten."

Judaism practices a belief of not throwing away food. It was the policy of the Jews that all leftovers became the property of the servants who served the meal.

Jesus used the twelve disciples to distribute the food and there were 12 baskets of fragments of food left over, one full basket for each of the disciples.

John 6:14,"Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.""

The people wanted to see Jesus do miracles, signs and wonders and this one was very spectacular.

John 6:15, "Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone."

The people knew from the Old Testament that a Prophet was coming, and they looked for Him to deliver them from the control of the Roman Empire.

It was not in God's plan for Jesus at this time to become King, Jesus' job was to die for all of mankind.

John 6:16, "Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,{17} got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. {18} Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. {19} So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. {20} But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid.""

The words "It is I" are literally "I AM." So far this is the second time in John's Gospel where Jesus used this name of Jehovah as applying to Himself.

John 6:21 "Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.."

Notice in verse 19 that the disciples were rowing. They had not put the sail up because, with the wind, it was to dangerous.

Matthew records that it was in the fourth watch when Jesus went to them. This would have been between 3:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M.

Notice the word "immediately" - it was miracle - The disciples had been rowing all night and after Jesus came to them immediately they were at land.

John 6:22 "On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone; {23} however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks; {24} when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus."

When the great multitude realized that Jesus and His disciples were not there - they left and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. They knew the disciples had taken a boat but did not know when Jesus left.

Let's drop down to verse 59 and notice something: John 6:59 "These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum."

It seems that this is almost an "after thought" by John. All of this that "was spoken," was spoken in the synagogue at Capernaum.

What we are seeing here is a synagogue situation where Jesus Christ sat to teach. The Jews stood to read the Scriptures and they sat to teach.

The Jews challenged Him on the issues that they had heard Him say. They were uncomfortable about some of the things that He said.

The synagogues had a format of give and take and there were some lively debates.

Some of the Rabbis were like lawyers who would fight tooth and nail in court then fellowship with their opponents later. It seems that in the church, if we get into a debate with someone and that person gets offended they wonít talk to you for a long time.

Now letís go back to John 6:25 "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. "

Notice that Jesus did not answer their question. He accused them of only looking to Him for another free meal.

John 6:27 "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."

Jesus said "Do not labor for the food which perishes." Satisfying one's physical appetite is not the most important thing in life. We should labor "for the food which endures to everlasting life." Spiritual food.

In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

We should labor tirelessly to acquire a better knowledge of the Word of God.

Notice also in this verse (John 6:27) that God the Father set His seal on Jesus.

Jesus is saying that God has given Him His seal of approval.

When Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism, lets notice what God said:

Matthew 3:16-17 "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. {17} And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

So God had given Jesus His seal of approval and He had endorsed Him as One who spoke the truth.

John 6:28 "Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"

They saw the impressive miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 men (plus women and children) and they asked: What can we do - to do the works of God.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

Jesus said that you must believe on Him whom God had sent.

We are to believe in Jesus. Believe what He said. John 15:10 says "If you love me keep my commandments."

What is Jesus saying? The problem here is that the people did not believe Him. Jesus is telling them all kinds of things and they didn't believe Him, especially around Capernaum and Nazareth where He grew up. A prophet is without honor in his own country. They knew Him and could not accept this. Jesus is saying that you must believe the One that God had sent.

John 6:30 "Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?"

Like most unbelievers they wanted to see first, and then they would believe. But they had just seen a spectacular sign of the 5,000 men being fed.

As Christians we must believe and have faith first and then we will see.

John 6:31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

The Jews implied that Moses called down food from heaven and that Jesus was not as great as Moses, because He had only multiplied existing food. The Jews were Judging Jesus as to how He measured up to Moses. The Jews put a lot of emphasis in Moses and Abraham.

John 6:3 "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."

Jesus was quick to clarify to these people who really gave the Manna, it was not Moses but God.

And who was the God of the Old Testament? Jesus Christ was! (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

It was actually Jesus Christ who gave the physical bread from heaven in the wilderness and now in the New Testament it is Jesus Christ who is offering the Spiritual manna to mankind.

In a sense He fed the 5,000 in the wilderness.

The manna was literal food, designed for the physical body, but it had no value beyond this life.

The phrase "My Father" in this verse is a claim by Christ to His deity.

John 6:33 "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

This is a very important verse. Jesus is showing the superiority of the bread of God to the manna in the wilderness. The manna did not impart life but only sustained physical life.

Jesus is saying that He is the bread, that He came from heaven and it is only through Him that we can have eternal life.

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

John 6:34 "Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."

They were wanting physical bread and Jesus was wanting to give them spiritual bread.

The Jews had their minds on the physical things and did not grasp the spiritual concepts that Jesus was telling them about.

One example of the physical is that the Jews wore phylacteries, like little boxes, on their heads or wrists with the Ten Commandments written inside. Spiritually God wants us to internalize and live by the Ten Commandments.

The comment that they made here opened the door for Jesus to elaborate more about the bread.

John 6:35 "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."

Notice this: He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. Jesus is using a figure of speech here. Obviously we cannot live physically on Bible Study - we do need physical food to sustain our lives.

Jesus is speaking spiritually. It takes God to open your mind so you can understand spiritual things.

Notice the "I am" in this verse. Jesus again makes a claim to equality with Jehovah.

John 6:36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe."

Even the 12 disciples who were with Jesus 24 - 7 didn't always understand and believe.

John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

When God calls a person, that person will be guided to Jesus Christ.

Many are called but few are chosen, because not everyone who is called will respond. Jesusí parable of the sower and the seed gives 4 examples of people being called where we find that many will not respond because of the cares of this world (Matthew 13:18).

There comes a point in our lives that we must decide what we believe.

We must consider the evidence, hear what is said and ask the question: Can I believe what this man, Jesus Christ, has said?

Do we believe the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? The testimony of these four witnesses are written from different points of view Are they telling the truth?

You have to decide and then you have to alter your life and live it according to the way that you believe.

John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."

The foot washing part of the Passover is to show our humility toward our fellow man. To partake of the foot washing at the Passover is the will of God. We submit our will to comply with the will of God.

Notice in this verse that Jesus is submitting to God's will and not to His own will. This is also indicating that God and Jesus are two separate beings with two separate minds. This throws a kink in the Trinity doctrine.

Jesus also said: "I have come down from heaven."

Do you believe it?

The Jews believed in a certain way and when Jesus came and preached another way, it was hard for them to change their beliefs.

The Jews were normal hard working people but they knew the Old Testament Scriptures. They had learned to read in the Synagogue schools reading the Holy Scriptures.

These Jews knew the Scriptures and when they heard Jesus they then had to decide if they believed Him.

They had seen Him do miracles: heal the sick, the blind could see, the lame could walk and demons had been cast out.

And now He said that He was the Bread of Life. Could they believe Him?

Some people believe that Jesus is the Messiah and yet they do not believe that He existed before His human birth. They believe that He was born of Mary and then became the Messiah. They have a low opinion of the book of John.

John 6:39 "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."

It is God's will that Jesus Christ make certain that all those who are brought to Him will enter into eternal life.

The phrase: "I will raise him up at the last day" is used by Jesus four times in this sixth chapter of John. (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54.)

Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights and then God resurrected Him (Matthew 12:40).

It will be Jesus who will resurrect us up to eternal life at the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

John 6:41 "The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."

The Jews murmured and complained because Jesus said: "I am the bread which came down from heaven." They complained about Him because they were not willing to believe His words.

John 6:42 "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'?"

One of the reasons it was hard for the Jews to believe on Jesus was that they knew Him and His parents and they could not accept what He was saying that He had come down from heaven.

Jesus at this time was in Galilee. Nazareth was located west of the Sea of Galilee about 15 to 20 miles.

John 6:43 "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.

Only God can call you. It is Jesus' job to reveal the Father to you. (Luke 10:22.)

Jesus is saying that a person cannot decide for themselves to come to Christ.

God has to invite you because it is His responsibility to call you.

John 6:45 "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me."

Jesus is quoting: (Isaiah 54:13) "All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children."

God not only simply chooses individuals, He does something about it.

He speaks to them through the teaching of His word.

Those who respond to the teachings of God's Word and learn from the Father are the ones who come to Christ. Here again we see the two great truths of God's sovereignty and man's choice placed side by side in Scripture.

They show us that salvation has a divine side and a human side as well.

It is by the teachings of God's Word and God's Spirit that men are drawn to God.

Matthew 22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."

In every generation a lot of people go to church or synagogue but not many believe to the point of commitment. God wants us to put Him and His Son first in our lives.

John 6:46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

This verse shows that only Jesus has seen the Father.

Jesus also said in John 5:37 "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me."

You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form."

All those who are taught by God are taught about Jesus Christ because God's teaching has Christ Himself as its grand Subject. Christ is the focal point of the Bible. He is the God of the Old Testament and the Savior or the New Testament.

The only way to learn from the Father is to listen to the one whom He Has sent which is Jesus Christ.

John 6:47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."

We need to believe Jesus and believe what He said. In this chapter recorded by John we need to believe that He is the Bread of Life.

John 6:48 "I am the bread of life."

The term "bread of life" means the bread which gives life to those who eat it.

John 6:49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead."

The manna that the children of Israel ate was physical food and they died a physical death.

John 6:50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die."

Jesus now contrasts the physical bread that leads to physical death with the spiritual bread that leads to eternal life.

John 6:51 "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."

Jesus said: "The bread that I shall give is My flesh." Jesus was a flesh and blood man. Jesus is saying: "I shall give My flesh for the life of the world."

We are familiar with what God said in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

In John 6:51 we see that Jesus voluntarily gave His life for the world.

To the Jews in the synagogue, God was the God of the Jews, not the world. They did not think that the Gentiles were involved in God's plan.

The Jews did not associate with the Gentiles nor go into their houses.

Jesus gave us a commission to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the world and to make disciples of all nations. He is referring to the Gentile nations.

Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

Jesus said: Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Referring back to John 6:51 Jesus said: "the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

The blood and the flesh of Christ are important.

1 John 4:1-3 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. {2} By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, {3} and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."

To deny that Christ came in the flesh is the spirit of Antichrist.

2 John 1:6-7 "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. {7} For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

John says again: To deny that Christ came in the flesh is the spirit of Antichrist.

John is hitting hard and heavy on this.

John 6:52 "The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"

These Jews were not stupid but they were being difficult.

John 6:53 "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."

Jesus said "Most assuredly" which is saying, I am telling you the truth. Jesus then said: "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you."

The Jews knew that Jesus was not talking about cannibalism but that He was talking about symbolism. These people understood the concept of the blood covenant from Semitic history with the blood of animals and the sacrificial meal. The Temple was in full operation with animal sacrifices.

John 6:54 "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"

We who are in the New Testament Church knows what this passage means. This takes place at the Passover as we take the symbols of the bread and the wine. We drink the wine and that symbolizes Jesus' blood shed for us (Revelation 1:5). We eat the bread and that symbolizes Jesus' flesh in which He was beaten for our healing. 1 Peter 2:24 "By whose stripes you were healed."

John 6:57 "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."

Jesus said: "He who eats this bread will live forever." He is referring to eternal life again.

John 6:59 "These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. This is the verse we read earlier - it is like John stated as an after thought. It is out order.

John 6:60 "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"

This was a hard saying for Jesus' disciples. These concepts were new to them. They didn't understand everything fully.

This is not hard for us. We have been exposed to these concepts. We know the whole story. To those of us in the Church, we understand these concepts by keeping the Passover and participating in the sacraments of the bread and wine.

John 6:61 "When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? {62} "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?"

Were the disciples offended?

What would the disciples do when they saw Jesus ascend to heaven where He had come from?

Jesus was being clear and he expressed the fact several times that He came down from heaven.

John 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. {64} "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. {65} And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." {66} From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."

Some of Jesus' disciples left and did not walk with Him anymore. These people did not have the understanding nor the faith that Jesus Christ was who He said He was.

This is sad - it reminds me of the split in our former Church Association. We have seen some scattered and some have decided to leave the Church and "walk no more" with Jesus Christ.

John 6:67 "Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" {68} But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

We should have the attitude of Peter. It is only through Jesus that we can attain eternal life. What other hope do we have?

John 6:69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Peter said: "We have come to believe." In other words it took some time. It takes time to believe, to develop faith, to live the Christian life. It is not like the thief on the cross, most of us will have 70 years to live.

John 6:70 "Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" {71} He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve."

Even at the last Passover the disciples wondered who it was that would betray Jesus Christ.

During the Passover meal Jesus said, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon." (John 13:26)

Let's turn to our final scripture:

John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. {2} He was in the beginning with God. {3} All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." {14} And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

In Conclusion:

Jesus Christ came from heaven to the earth as the "Bread of Life."

He came in the flesh as a man, a human being just like you and me.

The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus set us an example of being sinless.

As we all know - leaven pictures sin and being unleavened pictures sinlessness.

The seven Days of Unleavened Bread is a training session for us to really try to live without sin.

The Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread should be very important to us.

We need to remember the words of Jesus when He said:

"Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:54.)

Return to ICOG Newsletter Page