Summary: The type of person we see in Jesus or indeed what Jesus means to us is very variable, unique and very personal - Jesus, not just a Leader, Teacher, Physician, not even as Saviour, but John describes Jesus as food. I AM the bread of life.
CHRIST LIVES IN ME.
Jesus said, ‘I AM the Bread of Life’ and this saying of Jesus has profound implications for a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.
In fact the type of person we see in Jesus or indeed what Jesus means to us is very variable, unique and very personal
All of them are valid but one predominates.
It could be Jesus the Leader we follow; the Master whom we obey; the Example whom we imitate; the Teacher from whom we learn; the Saviour by whom we are rescued; the Physician by whom we are healed.
In each of these relationships we remain separate and apart from Him.
But the New Testament speaks of a deeper and more intimate relationship when it refers to us being one with Christ.
It takes us into communion with Jesus in a very real way.
St John presents Jesus NOT just as Leader, Teacher, Physician, not even as Saviour, but as food….. BREAD.
It was Jesus Himself who says, 'I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.'
That is a strange statement and it is not surprising that His listeners were puzzled by it.
They began to ask among themselves, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?'
Jesus heard their questioning, but refused to dilute His language.
In fact in an even stronger statement He said, 'If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you...my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.'
We are not shocked by these words of our Lord, at least not as severely as His original listeners.
It is important to put this saying of Jesus into context with the rest of John’s gospel so that we can understand its significance.
Jesus had just fed the 5000 on the far side of the Sea of Galilee.
He had then returned to Capernaum, and there He met the Jewish leaders.
The feeding of the 5000 had almost inevitably brought memories of the MANNA in the wilderness.
It was Jesus’ insistence that it was NOT Moses, but GOD who had given the people the manna.
Jesus then goes on to say that the true bread, the bread which gives life and defeats death, MUST come from God.
Then comes His great claim: ‘I AM the Bread of Life…. I AM the living bread which came down from heaven’.
Here was a saying which the Jews bitterly resented; they thought that they knew who Jesus was, and they could not see how any one whom they regarded as a familiar person had the right to talk like that.
Then Jesus went even further when He identified this bread of life with His own body and blood,
'If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you...my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.'
John tells us that even some of His disciples left Him because they could not stomach what He had said.
They must have wondered how a man can offer pieces of his own flesh to be eaten and his blood to be drunk.
We shouldn't be too critical of them….. Our position in history gives us a considerable advantage.
For one thing we have heard these words over and over again and their original impact has been softened… They are not new to us.
We hear them in the context of the Eucharistic celebration which speaks to us of the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, and our minds move immediately to an upper room in Jerusalem.
We remember that night when Jesus broke bread and said, 'Take and eat, this is my body.'
When He took a cup of wine and said, 'Take and drink, this is my blood.'
Knowing that part of the Gospel story, it is much easier for us to understand this saying of Jesus, I AM the BREAD of LIFE.
When Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, He clearly had in mind the Eucharistic feast.
He was offering Himself--His body and blood, His very life--as spiritual food for all who would receive it.
This opens the way to that deeper and more intimate dimension of Christian experience.
It speaks, not of a separateness in which we follow Christ, but of a togetherness in which we commune with Him.
Just as salt can be dissolved in water until the two become one, so His personality can be absorbed into our personalities, slowly but surely changing the quality of our living.