I want to draw your attention to John 6, and particularly verses 32 to 59 where our Lord gives this great sermon on, I Am the Bread of Life. Let us read this great sermon starting in John 6:32, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“34 Sir, give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”
“39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day. 41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
“42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’? 43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. 45 As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father comes to me.”
“46 Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him. 47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”
“Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” 52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. 53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.”
“54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me.”
58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. The most compelling statement around which all of this is built is the repeated statement, “I am the Bread of life.”
This is the first of seven “I AMs” in John, in which our Lord takes the Tetragrammaton YHWH, the verb “to be” in Hebrew, the name of God who is the ‘I AM that I AM’, and applies it to Himself and adds a metaphor, “I am the Bread of life. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Vine. I am the Way. I am the Truth. I am the Life. I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Jesus gives us a metaphor to explain something about His nature and His work. Now, understand how monumental this sermon was in the Capernaum synagogue. He’s talking to Jewish people, and He presents this powerful claim that He has come down from heaven. And that they have to “eat His flesh and drink His blood” if they want to come into the Kingdom and have eternal life.
Jesus is saying, “I alone am the means by which that eternal life can become yours.” This is a long passage, but it can be easily divided into two very familiar components. It’s full of repetition because they were listening. And repetition is even more important to an audience that is listening. So John records the full sermon that is rare in the Gospel record because this is such a stunning claim.
The two parts that we need to look at, are the divine provision of the bread, and the human appropriation of the bread. This is going to be more like a Bible study than a sermon. To say that Jesus is bread is to use a figure of speech for nourishing food that gives life and sustenance. Jesus used the word “bread” to refer to that when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”
Bread, then, is a word that encompassed all nutritious food. Jesus is saying that, “I am your food.” First of all, let’s look at the divine provision of the bread. Several features are indicated here about God’s provision of this bread. First of all, this bread is divinely preexistent. Verse 32 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the true bread out of heaven, but it is my Father.”
Verse 33, “The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Verse 38, “I have come down from heaven.” Now, He switches from the metaphor, the bread has come down, and applies it to Himself and says, “I have come down.” Verse 41, He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” In verse 42, they said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? How can He say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
Every time you see the phrase “came down from heaven”, and it’s repeated again and again, you are hearing a statement affirming the incarnation of a preexistent person. Jesus didn’t come into existence. He came down out of heaven. Anyone who claims that falsely is a lunatic or a deceiver, who would have a hard time convincing people. But over and over Jesus speaks of His preexistence.
John began his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” the Word meaning Christ. Therefore, Christ was there preexistent with God, coexistent with God, self-existent with God eternally. He always existed in the presence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. John 1:14 says, “We beheld His glory and it was the same glory as the Father.”
Back to verse 46, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father.” I tell those people that claim they came back again. You did not go to heaven and you did not see God, and you do not have a message for us. That is exclusively the right of the Son of God, the preexistent one. Don’t believe lies about people going and coming from heaven.
The only One who has brought us heavenly things is the One who descended from heaven, namely the Son of Man. In John 13:3, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God.” That’s the night of the upper room discourse with his disciples, it begins with the declaration that Jesus has come from heaven and is going to return there.
Verse 32-33, “It is my Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 The bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven.” It is God who sends the bread. Verse 38-40, “I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me. 40 “This is the will of My Father.” The Father is sending the Son.
God not only purposed to send His Son, He decided what His Son would accomplish. Verse 37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and those who come to Me, I will certainly not cast out.” Verse 39, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given me, I lose none, but raise them up on the last day.” Verse 44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them.”
It is the plan for the complete glorification of those the Father draws. Jesus affirms this in His ministry, such as in John 10:29, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” The Father draws, the Father gives, the Son receives, the Son keeps, the Son raises, and no one can snatch them out of the Son’s hands.
How did they become God’s children? By divine election. God chose them before the foundation of the world, wrote their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In time, He draws those who belong to Him to Christ. Christ receives them, keeps them, and Christ raises them. This is not just a spiritual resurrection but also a physical resurrection. The divine purpose goes from election to resurrection.
Verse 45 is an important verse. It’s a quote from Isaiah 54:13, “It is written in the prophets and they shall all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” The only way anybody can come to the truth is if God is his teacher. That drawing is divine. The Father is the true teacher. The Father is the instructor of the heart and the mind.
And God’s provision consist of a divine promise. Well, what does Christ do for us? Go back to verse 33, “The bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.” Zoe, spiritual life, not bios, biological life. The promise connected to the bread is spiritual life. And He is the only bread of God, the only bread of life, the only source of life for the whole world.
Verse 40 says, “This the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life.” Verse 47 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.” Verse 51 says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
Verse 53-54, “Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.” Verse 58 at the end, “He who eats this bread will live forever.” How? Because of verse 56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him.”
How do we get eternal life into these mortal bodies? Because we come into a real union with Christ. Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” And so His eternal life is in us, granting us eternal life. Jesus repeated a number of times about His union with His people. John 14:20, “When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
We don’t follow the teaching of a religious leader. We’re on our way to death unless His eternal life takes over. So the bread of life is heavenly bread. The Lord Jesus Christ comes from divine eternal preexistence into time and space to fulfill the divine purpose of the Father, which is to provide salvation. That is dependent on a union with Christ which is a true spiritual reality and is why we live forever.
And it culminates in a resurrection. Several times Jesus says, “I’ll raise him at the last day.” It is a union that will not only be a union in spirit, but it will be a union in a body. Philippians 3:21, “He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own.” This is what it means to be a Christian. It’s having His life in us. This is the work of God.
What’s our responsibility? We are commanded to appropriate this bread. In verse 34, the Jewish people wanted the bread that would satisfy their constant hunger physically, but Jesus isn’t talking about that. He’s talking about Himself as the bread they really need. Verse 35, He says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me.” We just read, “Nobody can come unless the Father draws him.”
And yet here it says, “He who comes to Me.” So the first requirement is to come. Verse 37 clarifies, “All that the Father gives Me will come, and the one who comes to me, I will not reject.” Not because the person is of value, but because the gift of the Father is of value. It’s not enough to come and listen. You have to believe Me. But believing in the person of Jesus Christ as the living bread is not enough.
You must also accept the person that I am and the death that I died. Verse 55-56, “For My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me in and I in him.” Now Leviticus 17, Deuteronomy 12 and Deuteronomy 15 forbids Jews from drinking blood. But what Jesus says is that without believing in His sacrificial death, you cannot be saved.
The Old Testament states that the Messiah must suffer and die. We also worship Him as the sacrifice for our sins who died in our place. You have to be able to eat His flesh in the sense that you take Him as the one who nourishes your soul. And you have to be willing to drink His blood in the sense that you accept his sacrificial death. This was too much for the Jewish people to accept.
If you want eternal life, eating is necessary. You can’t just come and admire. You have to eat, which is to believe fully. But eating is in response to hunger. So, the people who eat are the people who are hungry! It’s the aching of the heart of one who knows he’s empty. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit to make the heart hungry. That’s where the Father starts to draw. The hungry heart needs this bread, Amen? Let’s pray.