Summary: I Am The Bread of Life
I Am Series, part 2
I Am The Bread of Life
We are in the second week of a three week series leading up to Easter, entitled I AM, looking at three of the I am statements made by Jesus in the gospel of John. We started last week in John ten with “I Am the Good Shepherd,” this week we are in John 6 looking at “I am the Bread of Life,” and on Easter we will finish in John eleven with “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Next week one of our missionaries, Paul Wiig, will be sharing about his work in India.
1. Jesus is the Bread that Gives Eternal Life (vs. 48-51)
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, then he will live forever.” This is one of seven I am statements we encounter in the gospel of John. To emphasize the “I” in an “I am” statement, Greek writers would use the construction ego eimi meaning “I, I myself, am.” We find this construction behind every “I am” statement in John. Significantly, this is the same construction found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, of Exodus 3:14 where God declares Himself as, “I AM WHO I AM.” Over and over again when Jesus uses these “I am” statements, He is identifying himself with Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. No first century Jew would have missed this point. But why does Jesus describe himself as bread? Jesus is the means of sustaining our spiritual lives as physical bread is the means sustaining physical life. Bread was a primary and necessary staple in the ANE much more than it is today.
Manna in the wilderness is a reference to God's miraculous provision for his people during the Exodus, when he freed them from slavery to the Egyptians. For forty years manna appeared with the evening dew and only stopped after Israel reached the land of Canaan. In a similar way, Jesus is the bread of life that comes down from heaven but he has the power to make one live forever, 'if anyone one eats of this bread he will live forever,' literally 'life unto the age.' Jesus is the life giving bread that gives life forever or eternal life. This bread is from heaven, speaking of the incarnation. Jesus is demonstrating that the manna God provided in the wilderness had a larger purpose than feeding Israel in the wilderness. It was a pointer to the greater, true manna that God is providing in Jesus in a new Exodus. This led Jesus to say he will give this bread, his flesh, for the life of the world. He will sacrifice his life, which is the means of eternal life for us. Notice that this sacrifice is for the world, pointing to his global mission. His sacrifice was not just for Israel but for whoever believes.
2. Believing in the Bread of Life is More than a Superficial Response (vs. 52-58)
The Jews thought he was speaking literally but he was talking figuratively. Jesus answers, “Truly truly unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” To feed and drink on Jesus means to believe on him, the giving of his life and the shedding of his blood for us. Both point to his sacrificial death which paid the penalty for our sins, absorbed the wrath of God for us, so that we might be justified before him, acceptable and embraced as his children, receive the forgiveness of sins, and even be freed from our sins. Feeding and drinking point to more than a superficial commitment but is recognizing your dependence upon him daily in the same way you are dependent upon food and drink. Faith is banking your hope on him daily for life and sustenance. Life is not found in the good life nor even God's good gifts but found in God himself.