1 – “I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:35)
The Gospel of Apostle John records seven miracles performed by the “Living Word” as also the seven I AM statements of the Lord Jesus revealing His Divine status as Son of God. Our Lord revealed God to us to enable us to know Him and be able to have an eternal relationship with Him. The blessings outlined in these seven statements are available to us to appropriate the same as ‘children of God’ to live a life of abundance in the Lord.
Why did Lord Jesus use this metaphor? – Lord Jesus had multiplied the ‘five loaves of bread and two fish’ to feed the ‘great multitude that came to Him’ and knew what was in their hearts to forcibly declare Him king, departed from there. The crowd followed Him to Capernaum to be taught by Him, “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” (John 6:27). In response to their claim of receiving manna from heaven, they were informed that the bread of God is He who comes from heaven (Verse 31-33). The Jewish crowds were looking for a Messiah who could fulfill their physical needs of food and shelter whereas the Lord came to provide them eternal benefits.
Lord Jesus declared the purpose of His coming to the earth – to give them life to the full – and the Greek words used for life and fullness are quite revealing. First, “Zoe” for life means life, both of physical (present) and of spiritual )particularly future) existence. Secondly, “perisos” for abundance or full is derived from “peri” meaning ‘all-around, excess’ thus “perissos” means beyond what is anticipated, beyond expectation; more abundant; going past the expected limit (Strong’s Greek Concordance). The ‘Bread of life’ implies this life of beyond expectation for He did tell Satan “Man shall not live by bread alone”. Lord Jesus being the “logos” – the Word, becomes the bread that gives eternal life.
What is the “Bread of Life”? – Bread would generally imply all nourishing food and not specifically a piece of bread alone. Lord Jesus declares that “I am your true food that will benefit your body, soul and spirit to lead you to God the Father”. In Hid declaration there are many important specific points that need proper understanding.
First, This Bread is from God the Father – Lord Jesus taught that Moses was not the provider of the bread but God the Father from heaven –verse 32. He then reveals His own Divine nature “I have come down from heaven” – verse 38 and then in verse 51 He repeats this assertion “I am the living bead which came down from heaven”. Lord reveals His Divine preexistence with God to help us identify the true source of this provisioning. This repeated assertion confirms the incarnation of the preexistent Divine Son of God – “the eternal logos – the Word that became flesh and we beheld His glory”. He is everlasting self existent with God and not created while His body was prepared by God through His power. He came from heaven with the express purpose of doing the will of God the Father and to redeem us through His body and blood. Thus the ‘Bread’ was eternally preexistent as and with God and came from heaven to the earth.
Second, The Bread fulfills God’s Divine will – God the Father did not decide one day to send His Son as a Redeemer but He had decided this in eternity past in Hid foreknowledge. And this had a Divine purpose with a planning for the Lord Jesus declares His purpose of coming was “to do the will of Him who sent Me” (verses 38-40). The purpose gets further highlighted by Apostle Paul “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:3-4). The Divine purpose was decided in eternity past to make us blameless through our redemption by the Son of God. Lord Jesus in verse 45 then quotes the prophesy of Old Testament that “All your children shall be taught of the Lord” (Isaiah 54:13”). Thus those who come to Him Lord Jesus promises not to cast out and anyone who has been led by God the Father through His Holy Spirit will come to Him. The complete plan thus is God predestines and plans for the Son to come, decides to draw people to Him, the Son receives them, nurtures them and gives them eternal life in Him.
Thirdly, The Bread fulfills God’s promise – Lord Jesus reveals the promise of God in His coming “I have come that they (believers) may have life, and that they have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The life will be received by some but is available to all for Lord Jesus offers it “to the whole world” (verse 33). This life pertains to our life on earth as well as eternal life with God in His Divine presence for “this is the Bread which comes down from heaven” (verse 50).
Fourthly, the Bread assures of resurrection from the dead – Lord Jesus in the same narrative then clarifies further the type of life that He ‘gives to the world’ – the eternal life and shall live forever (verses 40, 47 &51). The nourishing bread gives life, eternal life, a life without death. The bread came down from heaven and one may eat of it and not die (verse 50) and this compares with the ‘manna’ provided to the Israelites in the wilderness and yet they died. How are we saved from death? The life that is made available through the body and blood of the Lord assures each of us of “abiding in Him and He in us” (verse 56). The union and oneness is assured by the indwelling Holy Spirit for Lord Jesus then lives in us and we are joined to Him in Spirit. Nicodemus was taught about this ‘new birth’ during his visit to the Lord at night for there is “no condemnation in Him” (John 3:1-21).
Lord Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day and after meeting the disciples and other about 500 men ascended into heaven with an assured return on a future day – to rapture the believers into Him and resurrect on the day of judgement. Our unity with Him and future life is further guaranteed by Him for He prepares a ‘mansion’ for each believer in His Father’s house. The Savior then prayed to the Father “Father, I desire that they whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). He not only revealed again His eternal preexistence but also the love and glory of the Father praying for all of us to be witness of this same glory. Since He is now in heaven we can witness His Divine glory by being in heaven and since “He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10).
Fifthly, this Bread assures of an eternal spiritual body – Lord Jesus came from heaven to fulfill the will of God the Father and provide us eternal life in heaven with Him through our resurrection. In fulfillment of that He repeatedly taught that the followers will be raised at the last day (John 6:40). Lord Jesus after His resurrection appeared to the believers and even asked them to check the wounds and believe (John 20:27). He was raised by the Father with His body and in this state material boundaries could not hinder His movement – probably the “garments of skin” given to Adam and Eve and through them to all humanity were removed. In our resurrected state we shall also be blessed to have a spiritual body in like manner for the Bread of Life grants us citizenship in heaven. Lord Jesus “will transform our lowly body that it may be confirmed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
The Bread of Life that is eternally preexistent, comes from heaven to fulfill the will and promise of God the Father to redeem us, grant us citizenship of heaven with eternal life there in a resurrected spiritual body. This is not of our doing but the mercy of God who has chosen and called us to be partakers of this.
How does this Bread affect us? – At creation man was formed from the earth and God breathed the heavenly part – the soul and spirit into him to give him life. After the fall not only the body was impacted but the soul – the feelings, desires and will were affected along with the earth and the nature, causing separation from God. Redemption results in forgiveness of sins and restoration of the relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. The soul of the individual is relieved at set at peace in the Lord Jesus with load of past mistakes removed and control of Satan and his demonic forces is broken. Man is thus healed of his afflictions and is guided through the Holy Spirit to lead a righteous life and be transformed. The continued presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit to “convict us of sin” and as Spirit of truth shall guide us into all truth (John 16:8; 13).
How do we receive this Bread of Life? – While the Lord was teaching about the Spiritual food, the listeners were dreaming about physical food. That is why they sought Him “Lord, give us this bread always” (John 6:34). Since they demanded this bread the Messiah taught them the way to appropriate this “Bread” for themselves and we also must follow the same path.
Firstly, we have to receive Him – In the letter to the Laodicea’s church Lord Jesus disclosed His “love of the Good Shepherd” to them by declaring “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). On the other hand He also warns that “Nobody can come to Me unless the Father draws him” (verse 44). The ‘Bread’ leads us to the “pearl of great value urging us to sell of all that we have and receive it” (Matthew 13:46). God the Father has predestined this pearl for those who will value the same and the call is for us “I am the Bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger (verse 35). Since we are not in a position to discern the chosen ones, the call is ‘to go to all nations’ and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel for those “who have ears to hear can hear” and come to the Savior Lord.
Secondly, we have to “look unto Him” – Lord Jesus then informs the Jews, in the very next verse, “You have seen Me and yet do not believe” (verse 36). The secret is then revealed by Him to all “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees/beholds the Son” (verse 40), he will receive the Bread of Life giving everlasting life. The Greek word used for sees or beholds is “theoreo” which means “gaze on for the purpose of analyzing and experiencing”. In a similar manner Apostle Paul urges us to “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and the Greek word used for looking is “aphorao” which has two components “apo” meaning ‘away from’ and “horao” meaning ‘see’. This word thus is translated as “looking away from all else, to fix one’s gaze upon” and clearly defines the way of looking/beholding.
There were multitudes following Lord Jesus wherever He went and each had his/her own need but very few really looked/beheld Him to understand His mission. Those who did not only were witness to His Divine glory but also exclaimed “Lord, You are the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). We cannot just give Him a passing glance; we have to look unto Him with the aim of receiving Him into our hearts.
Thirdly, we have to “believe in Him” – After careful scrutiny and understanding the next critical step is to believe in Him as the Savior who is the storehouse of eternal life in Him (verse 35). The right to be the “children of God” is available only to those who believe in His name and receive Him (John 1:12). In succeeding verses of His teaching sermon Lord Jesus repeats this command (verses 40, 47). This is the natural progression of a believer’s life, for until we believe in Him, how we can expect anything from Him. It is only through believing that we believe in His capability to give eternal life, ask Him for the same and then receive eternal life.
Fourthly, we must hunger for this ‘Bread of Life’ – One may believe and even receive the Bread but unless there is hunger for the same one may be left holding the same with no effect. There must be a deep felt need for this Bread to obtain unity with Him and with God the Father to be able to eat and make Him my own. Our Lord then commands “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (verse 51). We have to answer “the knock on the door”, welcome Him in and then “dine with Him”. Merely opening the door also will not be enough, He has to be gazed upon intently, experienced and absorbed into our hearts and only then can He change us into heirs with Him. The 12 disciples lived with Him and were finally made to eat the Bread (His flesh) and drink from the glass (His blood) and then digest to appropriate this blessing to make it their own. Judas Iscariot had also received Him but failed to make Him his own and died, while the others repented of their sin of deserting Him and received the blessing of eternal life. It is through believing in His atoning sacrifice that finally assures the blessing.
There was a large crowd gathered there to listen to the Lord but only the chosen few believed. On the day of Pentecost, the crowds listening to those speaking in their individual tongues were amazed but some mocked and said, “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13). The gift of eternal life is a personal gift and must be received as such for each one of us is individually blessed to be a child of God. Others can join us in prayer and worship, Bible study and other activities but we have to make Lord Jesus our personal Savior to receive eternal life from Him.
Are we ready to open the door of our hearts and welcome Him as the “Bread of Life” to partake of Him to lead us to eternal presence in heaven before His Divine throne of power and authority!