The Living Bread
John 6:51-71 NIV
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:51-65)
After Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men, the people sought after him because they desired a saviour who would meet their physical needs. Jesus knew their motives and addressed it.
God will provide for our needs, but He wants us to seek Him purely for our relationship with Him. We wouldn’t want our children to only seek after what we can provide them. This wrong reason for seeking God is one of the main reasons why many fall away or hate God when they think God hadn't met their needs.
Jesus called himself the “living bread” because that was the staple food for his hearers then. What will he call himself if he is speaking to us now? Perhaps “living rice”? Jesus is our “living” staple, that nourishes us spiritually.
Why were the people upset when Jesus told them that he is the “living bread”? It was because they wanted a Messiah who would fulfil their physical needs and wants, including rescuing them from their Roman rulers. Instead, the bread Jesus offered them is the Word of God, that can save their souls for eternity.
When the people realised that the goal of this Messiah was different from what they wanted, their hopes were dashed. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (John 6:66)
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) (John 6:67-71)
Simon Peter, however, figured out that Jesus had the words of eternal life. Judas Iscariot didn’t.
It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NIV)
Words are important because they are able to change us. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
Our words, or the words of people who inspire us can shape our destiny. How much more impacting would God’s words be in shaping our eternal destiny if we take His words seriously? When we were young, we were told to listen to our parents’ words of wisdom. As parents, we hope our children can internalise our words into values which are important for their destiny in the real world. God’s words will lead us to eternal life.
Being a disciple does not stop at believing in Christ as our saviour. Our heart is deceitful, and it is easy to assume we are alright as long as we attend Church regularly. Discipleship is a process of daily application of God’s words in our lives.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.