After miraculously feeding 5,000+ people, Jesus crosses the sea of Galilee, and those having eaten, follow Him.
Jesus, knowing what is in the heart of a person said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:26-27)
He then preaches to them where he says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 3:51)
Those hearing this statement were confused, so too many today. How are we to understand this statement about Jesus being the BREAD of life and the necessity of eating it? This is a figurative statement with a major lesson behind it. Here are 5 clues to help us understand its meaning and how to comply.
The first clue, Jesus said in verse 35, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Two things are discovered; 1) whoever is to have the blessing of the Bread of Life must come to Him, and 2) they must BELIEVE on Him. In this same book of John, we learn that BELIEF comes from reading about Him. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31; cf. Rom 10:17) So, the first clue teaches us that to eat His flesh is a figure for reading His word.
Next, Jesus continues by comparing Himself to the manna that came down from heaven (6:31-34). He then says, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (38-39). From this we learn that He, as the Bread of Life, came down from heaven to RAISE up certain people. The Bread of Life is related to being RAISED up to heaven.
Related to this is the next clue found in verse 40. “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (47,54) Speaking again about ‘belief,’ Jesus relates the raising up to those same people having EVERLASTING LIFE. Remember, Belief comes from reading about Jesus.
The fourth clue is found in verse 62. Many of the disciples began to murmur, wondering who could hear it. In response Jesus said, “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” It’s interesting that He now speaks of ASCENDING into heaven after telling them He came down. This Bread of Life came down, like the manna, but this Bread will ASCEND back into heaven. In our time, we know what happens later. Jesus will ASCEND into heaven, but not before instructing the Apostles in Matt 28:19-20, where we read; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt 28:19-20). Once again, we see the repeated theme of teaching, learning, and obeying.
The commentary of scripture is telling us that the eating of the Bread of Life is related to learning, reading, and obeying the instructions from Jesus. In John 1 He is also called The Word.
However, some of the DISCIPLES turned. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. The last clue is found in Peter’s statement. “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:66-68)
While they may not have fully appreciated the depth of Jesus’ words, Peter seems to recognize something. Eternal Life is related to the teaching of Jesus. He would fully understand later; “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:” (John 16:13). So, being a DISCIPLE, (a learner, i.e. pupil), is our fifth clue. It’s not enough to just believe, we must do.
Eating His flesh and drinking His blood is not literal. Neither is it related to the Lord’s Supper, which is not literal either. What it means is to be a Hearing, believing, obedient follower of Christ.
Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.