"When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he 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, “I tell you the truth, 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 him 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 him. 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 forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum." (John 6:25-59)
There was always the temptation, and still is, to seek Jesus for something he can give you but not because of who He is. His reputation continues to grow, and now the crowd seeks him out. Specifically, they are hungry and they hear Jesus was known to feed people. So they show up for the free meal, literally.
Jesus confronts this reality and instructs the people to understand that food will spoil. It has a shelf life. And although they are hungry in their stomach, they are starving in their soul.
Jesus understands the distraction of food and takes the time to redirect their focus. And, since food is on their mind, he uses this as a metaphor to make His most important point: “I am the Bread of Life.”
It may seem like an odd statement to us as we read with full stomachs in our warm homes. Yet to these people who were hungry and looking for food, Jesus had their attention.
His claim was nothing short of amazing! “He who comes to me will never grow hungry.”
Well… who wouldn’t sign up for that?! A lifetime supply of food from Jesus. And not only that, Jesus said He would turn no one away! And all who come, without exception, will never be lost in the crowd or walk away disappointed!
This all sounded wonderful except for the part where Jesus said He came down from heaven. Well, they all knew why that could not be true because Jesus was the son of Mary and Joseph. The couple who lived in Nazareth, that had a baby they named Jesus, who is standing in front of them right now!
They were confused as they talked among themselves but no one dared to ask Jesus directly. Yet, they did not have to. He heard their grumbling and he went on to explain.
“I came from heaven because I am God and the food you seek that gives everlasting life is found through faith in me. But you must eat of this bread and this bread is my flesh.”
Now that’s strange! Those in the crowd responded just as we do in reading this statement from Jesus. We must eat His flesh? That makes no sense?
And so Jesus explains further: “Your forefathers were starving in the desert. They prayed, and God heard their cry. Manna (bread) fell from heaven and they ate until their stomachs were full. But the next morning, they were hungry again. This was the case every morning. And eventually, all of them would grow old and die as not a single one of those people stand before you today.”
Jesus brings it all together in the end and says, “Today, God has once again heard the prayer of His people and Bread has come down from heaven. I am that bread. If you believe in me and accept what I am telling you in faith and trust of my promise, you will have eternal life. And on the day your body dies, like a person who sleeps, I will wake you up to spend all of eternity with Me in heaven along with all those who follow in faith.”
This was the strongest and most difficult claim Jesus has made in His ministry thus far. With the utmost clarity, He has declared that He is God “with skin on”. He has come from heaven and is offering himself as the very sustenance of life. In essence, He is telling us, everything we need…everything – is found in Him. His life on earth exists to give life eternal.
Is your soul satisfied in Him?