John 6:25-71 (NRSV)
The Bread from Heaven
25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”
29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Jesus gives them no long list of things to do. He says simply, “Faith.”
Acts 16:29-31 (NIV)
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Remember, they were still thinking about the feeding of the crowd so recently. It seems they did not consider Jesus multiplying the bread and loaves as enough of a miracle. Perhaps because Jesus started with something, and not nothing?
32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus reminded them that it was not Moses who had given them the manna; it was God. Also he told them that the manna was not really the bread of God; it was only the symbol of the bread of God. The bread of God was he who came down from heaven and gave men not simply satisfaction from physical hunger, but life. Jesus was claiming that the only real satisfaction was in him.
34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35Jesus said to them, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
The hungry heart is satisfied when we know Christ and through him know God.
36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
John 4:34 — Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.
John 6:38 — For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.
The words are for all of us. My meat, my very food, the thing I cannot do without, is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work — not to leave it half done. It is so easy to do nothing because one cannot do much — and that also is not to finish His work.
To do His work requires a definite and repeated turning away from our own will. “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” It will mean a daily choice, perhaps an hourly choice, of something which is not our own will at all. It will mean faithfulness, patience, courage. O Lord, give us hour by hour these great virtues.
39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
They judged by externals. Not a good method to find truth.
43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It 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. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
HERE is “Bread of Heaven” by Fred Hammond, who is a gospel singer, bass guitar player, and record producer.
52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
They bickered with each other. Not a good method to find truth.
53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
To us as Christian believers, this passage speaks so clearly to the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion. Yet John has no account of the Last Supper later in his gospel!
The Words of Eternal Life
60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”
Indeed. Jesus has claimed to be one a) who has descended from heaven, b) who must be the object of their belief, and c) who must be feasted upon in order for them to receive eternal life. Those who were listening to him saw Jesus as the son of Joseph; how could he also be the one who came down from heaven? And once Jesus began talking about the need to eat his flesh — the Torah strictly prohibited eating blood; the very idea was disgusting to them.
The metaphor is still a stumbling block for many. Yet for those of us who do believe in Jesus, who agree with Peter in the next verses that “You have the words of eternal life” — what blessing indeed is found in the body and blood of Christ, given for us on the cross.
61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
Jesus in effect says, You find it hard to accept that I am the bread of life come down from heaven? What will you think when you see me ascending back into heaven?
63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
1) Jesus says that he is the bread of life. What images does that convey? How have you been nourished by this bread?
2) “Alleluia! Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Do you often tell Jesus what you think of him and about him? That is one way to praise him for his excellent greatness! What are several other qualities of Jesus — not gifts from him, but characteristics of him — that you can thank him for today? (This verse is my end-of-my-rope prayer: Lord, I have no where else to go. Only You.)
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.