Jesus the Bread of Life

“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. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” – John 6:35-36

The crowd was looking for a meal and focused only on their own temporal needs.  Jesus rebuked them in verse 26 saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”  Kostenberger notes, “…Jesus discerns people’s true motives.  This, too, proves he is the Son of God.”[1]

Jesus points men to himself as the ultimate satisfaction of their needs both physical and spiritual.  Jesus is greater than a mere magician able to multiply loaves and fishes.  Jesus is the prophet greater than even Moses (Hebrews 3:3) who the crowds are thinking about regarding the manna in the wilderness (vs. 30).  Jesus then explains that true bread coming down from heaven is one that “gives life to the world” (vs. 33).  The crowd responds enthusiastically, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (vs. 35)  They want the bread, but Jesus gives them something they were not quite expecting.

Jesus declares himself to be the Bread of Life.  Ridderbos notes in response to the questioning he is receiving, he points not to what he can do but to who he is.  Yes, men need bread but need more than physical bread, life-giving bread.  He notes, “He not only grants that bread but is that bread.”[2]  The true bread coming down from heaven having been sent from the Father is Jesus the Son, not manna or physical food.  What mean need is not just fulfillment on physical and spiritual levels, they need Jesus in particular.  They need the one sent down from heaven by the Father to give life to all.  This is John 3:16 in edible form.

Jesus not only declares himself to be the Bread of Life, he then adds, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  The bread this crowd received the previous day had already been digested.  It was gone and more was needed.  The Bread of Life, however, leaves people without the need for more.

The Bread of Life is sufficient, eternally sufficient.  Partakers of this bread, those who come to Jesus in belief, will never be hungry or thirst ever again.  Why?  According to Rogers and Rogers, it is “the bread that give life; that is, everlasting life.”[3]  The life given by this Bread is not because of coming or the believing in and of themselves, but is the result of the power of the Bread.  To put it a different way, the life given by Jesus is everlasting because Jesus is everlasting.  From a human perspective, the act of belief is a necessary component of salvation, but it is not the strength of this belief or the method of one’s coming that results in everlasting life.

The Bread of Life is the satisfaction, thus those who do not taste of this bread cannot benefit from it.   Michaels confirms that these promises “are not to those whom he is speaking.”[4] Verse 36 says, “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”  The crowd is looking at Jesus and asking for bread.  They have not comprehended the fact that he indeed is the bread himself.  They look to Jesus to give them something outside of himself to satisfy their needs.  Based upon the fact that they follow him demonstrates their belief that Jesus can provide physical needs but they have failed to believe that Jesus Himself is their need.  Kruse notes, “Those who come to Jesus, i.e. those who believe in him, are brought into relationship with God…”  So this crowd is seeking for the benefits of a relationship without the relationship.  The conclusion one may draw then is there are some followers of Jesus who are not genuine in their belief and thus have no salvation which can be lost.

[1] Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John: the Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Encountering Biblical Studies), 2 ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 1.

[2] Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John: a Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 229.

[3] Cleon L. Rogers and Jr. & Cleon L. Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 197.
[4] J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), 375.

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