Bread of Life
- Main Text: John 6:35-59
- Accompanying text: Psalm 34:1-10
“Bread is mentioned throughout the Bible. While this was one of the most important foods of ancient times, it also has the symbolic status as a manifestation of human life itself. Nowhere is this idea underlined more thematically than in the Miracle of the Five Loaves and Two Fish. Shortly after performing this miracle, Jesus states, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will not go hungry’ (John 6:35)”. 
The feeding of the five thousand had shown that Jesus could take what little we have and with it perform a miracle of abundant proportions, but the people were only concerned that they had been fed and wondered what might happen next. Would Jesus heal someone else? Who would it be? Maybe Jesus is the promised Prophet after all, they thought, and we should crown him a king. “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself” (6:15). The disciples had gone out on the Sea of Tiberias and became caught in a violent storm, and, Jesus, when he descended the mountain, walked on the water towards them — they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going” (6:19-21).
Meanwhile the crowds were perplexed: where had Jesus gone? “When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you’” (6:25-27). They did not follow what Jesus was talking about and wanted a sign that he was really from God — maybe Jesus could provide manna from heaven in the way that Moses did? “Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (6:32-35).
Thoughts re application today
“…Jesus connects eating and drinking to remaining in him, and thus we should understand this passage in relation to his vine-and-branches talk later. Part of the way we remain in the vine/Christ, part of the way we cultivate our direct relationship with the Trinity, is by somehow eating and drinking the body and the blood of Christ. And not surprisingly, as Jesus links eating and drinking to remaining in him, he also connects the believer’s life to that of the Trinity. The Father is ‘living,’ the Son lives ‘because of the Father,’ and the believer lives because of Christ. Somehow, eating and drinking are connected to sharing in the Father’s relationship with the Son…notice that eating and drinking are metaphors about continued action, not once-for-all action…in order to sustain life, one must eat and drink regularly, and likewise, in order to sustain spiritual life by remaining in Christ, one must spiritually eat and drink regularly. Once one has been made alive in Christ, that person must continually eat and drink of Christ in order to remain alive…Jesus is saying that in order to remain alive spiritually, we somehow feed on his body and blood. This is the way the early church understood this passage…through the Holy Spirit he grants us to eat and drink from him.
But what is involved in eating and drinking from Christ? In a nutshell, eating and drinking involve cultivating one’s direct relationship to Christ so as to be fulfilled from that relationship, so that one can in turn give selflessly to other people as a reflection of that relationship…Jesus is speaking here of eating and drinking, and while it is true that Bible reading, prayer and other Christian disciplines are ways of eating and drinking from Christ, the one rite that of the church that involves literal eating and drinking is the Lord’s Supper”. 
The teaching about how Jesus is the Bread of Life was too much for some of the listeners. “Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” (6:52). “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (6:60).
Jesus “knew this would happen (6:64). He affirms his authority and the fact that he and the Father are working together: ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless that Father has enabled them’ (6:65).
This is a moment of profound change. Following the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus starts by being much more open about the cross. It does not get the public vote. This is not the sort of Messiah they want. They don’t like the laying down of life. They don’t understand that it is by giving his flesh that God’s King will come. Many of his disciples walk away (6:66)”. 
- Matthew 26:26-29
- 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 14-18
Footnotes and references
- The Bible Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by various contributors, published by DK: Random House Publishers, UK, 2018:230.
- Donald Fairburn, Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers, published by IVP, USA, in 2009:210-211, 214-215
- Ian Galloway, Called to be Friends: Unlocking the heart of John’s Gospel, published by Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2021:163.