Summary: Jesus explains His Deity, Divine Purpose, and suffering through the symbolism of being the Living Bread
“The Living Bread”: John 6:35-51
Bread is still a staple for human beings in order to survive. In the U.S., most people take bread for granted, going to the grocery store and selecting whatever kind of bread you like. During Jesus’ time, and today in many place of the world, bread is not so easy to acquire. When Jesus revealed Himself as “the Living Bread”, He certainly startled the crowds of His time.
After Jesus had fed the 5,000 with five small barley loaves and two fishes, the next day we read in read John 6:35-51: Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 "For 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, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." 42 They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?" 43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 "I am the bread of life. 49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 "This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."
Jesus’ Words Reveal an Emphatic Declaration
Here is the Son of God who came from Heaven, but born in Bethlehem, “the house of Bread”, exclaiming: “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE!” In the English language, we miss the enormous significance of His declaration: The words “I AM” in the Greek are the first person personal pronoun plus the first person singular of the present tense verb “to be”. The construction is used in John in order to declare Deity, and the usage directly coincides with Ex. 3:14 where God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
In the context of this chapter, the declaration is simply astounding: Jesus had just explained about the manna which had been provided from Heaven to the Israelites. Verses 32 and 33 had been the setting for this declaration: Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 "For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
The people reply: "Lord, (Important Gr. Word, “Kurios”) always give us this bread;" and Jesus replies:”I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.” You cannot possibly miss the intention of Jesus’ powerful words: He is declaring His own eternal Heavenly existence, and it will be one of many announcements of His Divinity and Godhead.
This statement will be used several times in Jesus’ short conversation in order to reiterate with emphasis what He is declaring: First of all, the crowd understood His declaration but would not accept Him AS the Bread from Heaven. Listen to their response in verse 41: Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." A similar reaction is given throughout the world today; People know that Jesus was an exceptional prophet and teacher, but God? That fact people will not accept.