The Bread of Life: Jesus explains the miracle of the bread.
In these verses Jesus speaks of himself as the Bread of Life. Our Lord was born in the City of Bread (Bethlehem) and was placed in an eating trough (manger)! It was foretold!
This conversation takes place in Capernaum. It starts somewhere in the little town and it continues in the Capernaum Synagogue. This was the day after Jesus fed the multitude in the hills above Bethsaida and after the evening when he walked on water to his disciples in the boat. The Galileans knew Jesus did not board the boat with his disciples, wondering where he was, they came looking for him in Capernaum. (Capernaum was his home during his ministry here.) The Galileans were half surprised to find him there, wondering how he got there.
These people knew Jesus because, remember, he had grown up in Galilee and the people knew of his family. They were watching him closely. Many were Jewish Pharisees/scholars.
When they found Jesus, they asked him when he got to Capernaum. He didn’t answer but told them why they were looking for him. (The miracle of walking on water was evidently just for the 12 disciples because he ignored their question.) He said they were looking for him because of the bread he had given them; they had a materialistic desire for bread. It wasn’t even because of the miraculous signs he performed!
He told them not to work for food that spoils, but for that food which endures to eternal life offered by the Son of Man.
It seems the people thought they might have found a way to have their bread and eat it too! Perhaps they wouldn’t have to work for their bread anymore! But they didn’t understand the spiritual meaning of the bread miracle God gave them. God’s gift, Son of Man, which God himself affirmed with his seal.
The Galileans asked what they should do to do the works God requires. They thought, on their own, they could do what God demanded. Jesus replied that the work of God is to believe in the one he has sent. Jesus, himself. Faith is the work that they could do to please God.
Again they asked for a miraculous sign to see so they could believe Jesus.
Incredible! They had just seen Jesus feed a huge crowd with a few loaves of barley bread and a few fish. We all forget so soon, don't we?
They brought up the provision of manna their forefathers ate in the wilderness from Moses. They’re still seeing physical food.
Jesus answered: Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven (spiritual bead). It is the Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. Jesus claimed to be the only source of spiritual nourishment. And by the way, it wasn’t Moses who gave their ancestors manna! It was God! And that God of Moses was now among them!...this one who comes down from heaven...
The Galileans now want this bread. But their understanding is like that of the Samaritan woman who wanted the water of life. At first she didn't understand the spiritual significance.
For Jesus’ audience and the world, too, bread was the basic food that provided for their bodies’ life. But Jesus is the food from heaven that fills the need of the human heart and life eternal.
Jesus had shocked them! Moses didn’t give them real bread from heaven? Jesus said he was the bread the Father had given. Jesus wanted them to commit to him, to trust in him, not his miracles. They didn’t seem to get it.
God is soveriegn! Jesus said Father gives believers to Jesus and those believers will come to Jesus! It doesn’t mean the Gospel doesn’t need to be proclaimed for Jesus himself is proclaiming the Gospel to these unbelievers.
And how do I know the Father has really given me to Jesus? The rest of v37 answers: when I come to Jesus, he will never turn me away.
Jesus repeats six times, SIX TIMES! that he has come down from heaven. SIX TIMES!!!!
Heaven is his origin. Jesus is here by the will of the Father and that will is that Jesus will lose none of all that the Father has given him. It is everyone who looks to Jesus and believes!
The Jews find it incredible that this man whom they know says he came from heaven! They grumble!
In the Greek,the word for ‘grumble’ means murmur, grumble, speak in low tones, confer secretly, complain, express discontent.
His word were unsettling; they certainly didn’t believe him!
Jesus tells them to stop grumbling and complaining about what he said! He repeats that no one can come to him unless the Father attracts and draws them and gives the desire to come to Jesus. All who listen to God and are taught by him will come. And those who are given to Jesus will be raised by Jesus in the last day.
Is. 54:13 All your sons will be taught by the LORD,
and great will be your children’s peace.
Jesus claimed that he who has come from God is the only one who has seen the Father.
Then, a double AMEN! NIV translates it:"I tell you the truth."It’s a very solemn emphatic statement that the person who believes in Jesus has everlasting life.
Jesus again said he is the Bread of Life! When the Jews were in the wilderness they ate manna. Their physical needs were met. But they still died. The Bread of Life, Jesus, when believed and internalized, taking the Lord into your very being, you will never die!
Then the Lord really sets them off with these words: “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The reaction of the crowd was anger! Jesus’ words were nonsense! The very idea of eating the flesh of a man and drinking his blood was disgusting to them. Moses didn’t permit it!
Jesus made it perfectly clear and he repeated what he had said with the emphatic double AMEN! again. They could not have any life in them unless they eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. (unless they take possession of Jesus’ blood bought salvation.)
3 times Jesus states the importance of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. There could be no mistake in what he said! Jesus’ broken body and blood poured out on the cross need to be personally believed, and understood and brought into our lives in an act of faith in Jesus which is very like the act of eating food.
Jesus then explained what eating his flesh and blood is. Partaking of what Christ offers brings us into an abiding relationship with Christ. Jesus has his life in the Father and by faith we have our life in Jesus.
Augustine said: “Believe and you have eaten."
This is really about faith, not the communion with Jesus in the feast he instituted later.
Again, Jesus said the bread that came down from heaven is not the bread the forefathers ate in the wilderness. The forefathers eventually died. The bread from heaven, if eaten gives life forever.** Moses was great. But Jesus is greater! He provides what sustains us throughout eternity!
Jesus’ words puzzled some of his disciples just as they did the crowd. These were not the 12. Those who could not trust or understand Jesus just left him.
In John 2:25 Jesus said he knew what was in a man. He knew the attitude of these disciples who left. If they couldn’t understand what he meant about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, how could they ever understand the final events? His resurrection and ascension?
The Holy Spirit gives life. It’s not gotten by the physical process of eating. The words Jesus spoke to them are spirit and life. When Jesus’ words are believed, the Spirit gives life.
Jesus knew which of them had only superficial attachment to him. He seems sad. He had given plenty of opportunity for all who followed him to have faith, to believe.
Again he tells them that no one can come to him unless granted and enabled by the Father.
After this many disciples returned to their old lives and stopped following Jesus.
The Lord Jesus asked the 12: “You don’t want to leave me too, do you?"
Simon Peter answered the Lord: “You have the words of eternal life-where else would we go?
We have believed and have known you are the Holy One of God, the Christ, the Son of the living God."
The 'Holy One of God' is in the Psalms:
For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the place of the dead), neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption.
Psalms 16:10 AMPLIFIED
Jesus said he chose the 12 deliberately. But he included one he knew would be traitor. Judas had the same opportunities to serve the Lord, wasn’t a victim of discrimination; he was prominent in the group, being treasurer.
The Father chose the disciples but Jesus also chose them also!
And sin interfaced with the purposes of God in Judas. Jesus knows the betrayer’s heart.
Jesus knew this would be a stumbling block for the Jewish scholars. He seemed to purposely sift out the true believers, which of course, were his 12 for sure.
Following Jesus has a cost. We will have times when we will not understand. There will be times when we’ll be brushed off by others, ignored or the brunt of anger. Others will leave us. We’ll also find the evil one among our number who will betray our Lord.
But we’ll never be alone, we have the spirit too, who assures of eternal life.
Gal. 3:6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
Jesus has brought to us, a gift of bread. Himself.
All we must do is believe in him, taking Him into our beings. He lives in us if we are disciples.
**Why did Jesus push and push the idea that eating his flesh and drinking his blood was the way to eternal life? He knew the Jews would be thoroughly disgusted by this because eating human flesh was not allowed, it was detestable. Was he pushing these people away from him on purpose?
Jesus' discussion about eating his flesh and drinking his blood here, is a continuation from his feeding the 5000 on the hillside. We need to remember the OT shadow that He is speaking about: Passover. Jesus himself is the Passover.
I think he wants the Jewish people to see that and believe him. After all, that is what is required, isn't it? faith.
He hasn't died yet. The remembrance of the Lord's death by the disciples comes later. His audience here are unbelievers, not believers.
These are some of the reasons I don't see this as the actual communion he speaks of with his disciples just before his death and resurrection.
Jesus uses his flesh and blood/Bread of Life to show the spiritual nourishment and the way to eternal life.