About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus The Bread Of Life (ch. 6:25-59)

 

In verse 25 we see that the crowd finally found Jesus and asked Him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"  Note that those who asked this question viewed Jesus as a Rabbi, which simply means a teacher.   

 

There are some people who believe that Jesus was an official Jewish rabbi because He was called a rabbi and because He was allowed to speak in some of the Jewish synagogues.  Rabbi simply means teacher.  I do believe Jesus was a teacher, because He taught.  However, I'm not convinced that He was an official Jewish rabbi recognized by the Jewish establishment.  Most of the establishment refuted Him.  Yes, He was a teacher sent by God, but not officially designated by the Jewish leadership.          

 

It is always interesting to see how Jesus answers questions from people.  He did not give a direct answer to their question that we know of from the text.  In verse 26 He basically told them that they didnít follow Him all the way over to Capernaum because of the miracles they saw, but because they were fed.  The Greek implies that they "gorged" themselves on the food Jesus gave them.  Jesus is simply saying that this crowd wanted more food.  Jesus appeared to be a food machine for these people.  Why would one have to work when they could just hang around Jesus all the time and Heíd feed them.  No wonder they wanted to make Jesus king.  It would make Israel the ultimate welfare state.

 

Since Jesus is speaking to the crowd about food, He tells them not to "work for food that spoils."  These words would have sounded great to these people.  Why work for food when Jesus can magically make food appear for us.  Again, it's the ultimate welfare state.  But, Jesus wasnít really talking about material food.  Jesus wasnít saying to stop working and let me supply your food needs.

 

Jesus was in fact speaking of a different type of food that they didnít quite understand.  Jesus was speaking about "food that endured into eternal life."  Of course, we know that this food is the Word of God that enabled Him to do His Father's will.  Remember back in John 4 after Jesus ministered to the woman at the well.  The disciples brought Jesus some food but He told them that He had food already.  In context, the food was the spiritual ability to minister to the woman that He received from His Father.  Jesus hears the Father speak the Word and Jesus immediately does what is spoken.  The same should apply to us.     

 

This food could only be given to the disciples by the Son of Man, who is Jesus.  The term Son of Man that we see here and elsewhere in the gospel accounts is in reference to Daniel 7:13 and 14 where the prophet foretells the day when the Messiah will arrive on earth to set up His kingdom.  Daniel refers to the Messiah as being one like the Son of Man.  This Messiah would in fact be both God and Man.  

 

Note the words "placed His seal of approval on." What is this seal of approval?  We see Paul use this same terminology in his letters.  The seal is the Holy Spirit.  The seal first appeared when Jesus was water baptized, when the Holy Spirit came upon Him and the voice from Heaven said that Jesus was God's Son whom God loved.  The voice was subsequently confirmed by the miracles that Jesus performed.

 

What Jesus was telling the crowd was not to work for earthly food for their stomachs, but work for this heavenly food.  This tells me that the number one priority for Christians is to devote as much time to the work of the Lord as is humanly possible.  Hobbies and other such things are secondary to the work of the Lord.  We'll have all of eternity on the new earth to spend time on our hobbies and other such things.

 

In their confusion as seen in verse 28, some in the crowd asked, "What must we do to do the works of God?"  These people were thinking in typical Jewish tradition that was laden with works.  Good works were to make us acceptable before God.  It's all about works.  It's all about what I can do.  What good thing can I do to do the works that Jesus is doing.     

 

In verse 29 Jesusí answer was extremely simple.  He told them that believing in Him whom God has sent was actually doing Godís work.  Once again, we must understand the word believe in New Testament terms to be the process by which we give our lives to Jesus.  If we give our lives to Jesus, that is the work that needs to be done in order for us to receive this heavenly food which brings us eternal life?  The most important work that we can do is to simply believe, or, trust our lives with Jesus, and even then, we can't do that without the help of the Holy Spirit.  As Paul said in Romans 12:3, faith, or trust, is given to us by God Himself.  As humans we do not have the ability to have faith in Jesus.  We do not have the ability to trust our lives with God as we should.  It's all about faith, or trust.  We live by faith as Paul says in Romans 1:17.  We live by trusting our lives to Jesus each and every day.

 

In verse 30 the crowd asks what Iíd call somewhat of a dumb question.  They asked Jesus to perform some kind of a miracle to prove what He was saying was true.  Well these people had just searched Jesus out, took a trip across the lake to find Him, because of the miracle He already did for them.  They were just miraculously fed and now they are asking for another miracle from Jesus to prove Himself.  How stupid can humanity get.  Jesus never does miracles to prove Himself.  Jesus never does miracles on our demand.  The feeding of the crowd should have been sufficient for these people but apparently it wasn't. 

  

As seen in verse 31, along with this demand the crowd reminded Jesus that their forefathers were fed by God miraculously in the desert after they fled from Egypt .  Why did they bring this historical event up in this discussion?  It's clear to me that they still had food on their minds.  They still had the welfare state on their minds. 

 

Jesus had just fed these people once.  He was now claiming to be Godís Son and could offer them some kind of food in order to receive eternal life.  He told them that if they wanted this food, theyíd have to give their lives to Him.  This was a major decision for them to make.  Was Jesus going to feed them on a daily basis like God fed their fathers in Old Testament times?  It was a logical assumption to make.  They still had their minds set on earthly food as you can see by their statement.

 

In verse 32 Jesus gives further explanation to what He is saying.  He says, "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."  Notice the verb tense in the first phrase.  "It is not Moses who gave you Ö"  Moses did not give the bread to their forefathers.  God gave the Israelis food.  The "you" is a collective "you."  You, means the nation of Israel .  Jesus was telling these people that it was now time to switch their thinking from Moses to God, from manna to this new heavenly bread.  

 

The shocking thing is what Jesus says in verse 33.  He tells the people that the "true bread of God is He who comes down from heaven."  The bread of God is not bread as these people understood bread.  It was not the bread that they ate miraculously on the other side of the lake.  The bread of God was a person, and it was Jesus Himself. 

 

This is a great truth of Scripture.  What Jesus is in fact saying is that our relationship with Him is more important than earthly food that nourishes our earthly bodies.  There is a spiritual food that gives life throughout eternity and that is Jesus Himself.  We need to be very accurate here.  Jesus is not saying that God is this food.  He is saying that He is the food.  He was the one sent down from Heaven.  God has sent and appointed Jesus to be what we need to live for eternity in heaven.  Our relationship is with Jesus through His Holy Spirit.  He represents us to the Father.  We need to speak about Jesus way more often than we do because He is indeed the bread of life that God has sent for us to partake of.  It is only through Jesus that we have life eternal, and that life eternal has started for us already if we have given ourselves to Him.

 

In verse 34 the crowd answers Jesus by saying, "sir, from now on give us this bread."  From this response I donít think they caught onto what Jesus was talking about.  I believe they were still thinking of some kind of supernatural bread as their fathers ate in the wilderness.  Again, they were thinking of being fed in some kind of welfare state.  As we have been seeing throughout the book of John, every time Jesus speaks to people there is a mental disconnect between Jesus and those to whom He is speaking.  Humanity just can't get what Jesus is all about, unless the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart. 

 

Because of their response, Jesus, in verse 35, simply and plainly says, "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."  Jesus Himself is the bread that comes down from heaven.  Of course, such words would just confuse anyone.  How could a person be bread?  How could one eat a person?  Was Jesus talking about cannibalism here?  Obviously He wasn't.  

 

Jesus said that if you partake of Him, meaning, give your life to Him in divine fellowship, you wonít be hungry again.  He is not speaking of physical hunger.  He is speaking of a spiritual hunger that can be found in all men.  This hunger may not even be evident to all men, but in one place or time in a life, every man and woman will sense this hunger.  Jesusí claim is that if we give our lives to Him, this hunger will be quenched and we wonít hunger again. 

 

With this in mind we do know of people who have truly tasted of the bread of life and for one reason or another have chosen not to continue to eat from Godís bread.  They indeed do hunger again.

 

There is a question I've often asked in regard to not ever being spiritually hungry or thirsty again.  Why are so many so-called western world Christians seemingly hungering and thirsting for things this world can offer them when they should not be so hungry and thirsty.  Either they are not real Christians or else they have not put Jesus first in their lives.    

 

In verse 36 Jesus tells the crowd, as He has before, that even though He stands before them, they do not believe Him.  They have not given themselves to Jesus.  For the most part, the crowd tagged along and followed Jesus around for many reasons, but not for the right reason.  They were merely on the band wagon.

 

Verse 37 is interesting.  Jesus says that "all the Father gives Him will come to me and whoever comes to me, He will never drive away."  It is the Father through the Holy Spirit that draws people to Jesus.  Once someone comes to Jesus, Jesus will embrace the person.  He will never say "no" to anyone coming to Him with pure motives. 

 

Some Christians have used this verse to support their thinking concerning predestination.  That is, God chooses those He wants to come to Jesus to be saved.  I understand how they use this verse, but it is my thinking that God the Father will at one time or another bring people to Jesus.  Besides, it is quite possible that Jesus is speaking in the present tense.  That is, all that the Father brings His way while on earth, He won't drive away.  I'm sure that the same thought would apply now, but while on earth, not all men came to Jesus.  Only certain men came to Jesus with pure motives, and those men and women Jesus did not drive away.

 

The fact of the matter is that no one can come to Jesus unless the Holy Spirit leads him.  This is why our prayers for our unsaved friends and family are so important.  We pray that the Holy Spirit will lead these people to Jesus.

 

In verse 38 Jesus gives the reason why He wouldnít drive anyone away.  He says that He came down from heaven to do what the Father has sent Him to do.  So that being the case, why would He drive away someone that the Father sent His way? That would make no sense.

 

Note again that Jesus speaks of His divinity when He says that He has come down from Heaven and that God is His Father.  More than the other three gospel writers, John zeroes in on the divinity of Jesus.  This might well be because when he wrote this account; I believe near the end of the first century, he had to deal with all sorts of heresies concerning Jesus.     

 

In verse 39 Jesus continues to say that the Fatherís will is for Him to lose no one that His Father has given to Him.  Once again, those who believe in the idea that God predestines certain to be saved is seen in this verse.  They say God draws certain people to Jesus.  Jesus doesnít drive them away, and He doesnít lose any that He doesnít drive away.  Those who believe in eternal security use this verse as well.  Once again, I believe that Jesus is speaking here of His close disciples that His Father has given Him while on earth. He may not be speaking of believers like you or I.  From creation, we all have a choice to follow the way of God or not.  We have the choice to begin to follow and then change our minds, if that is what we want. That being said, I'm not discounting that those who come to Jesus today are not being considered in this verse.  Jesus will lose none of us, assuming we don't want to be lost.  I say that based on many other Scriptures.

 

We see a progression between verse 39 and verse 40.  In verse 39 Jesus says that He will lose none that the Father sends His way.  That's His disciples back then.  Then in verse 40 Jesus expands this by saying, "everyone who looks to the Son of Man and believes in Him shall have eternal life."  That includes you and I and all throughout this age. 

 

Jesus goes on to say that all who the Father sends His way will be raised up on the last day. The last day is when Jesus will come back to earth.  Those who are His will be raised to a new life.  This tells us, right from the lips of Jesus, just when the resurrection of our bodies will take place.  That will be the day when Jesus returns to rule the earth.  That will be the day we will be given what we call our glorified eternal bodies.  That is the last day of this present age.    

 

In verses 41 and 42 John tells us that the
Jews  began to grumble over the fact that Jesu
calls Himself the bread of life that comes down from Heaven.  They knew Jesusí family and could not understand how Jesus came down from Heaven when He was born in Nazareth.  That made no sense to them.  This is interesting.  Capernaum is not that close to Nazareth, although both cites are in Galilee.  Either there were some people from the Nazareth area there that knew His family, or else Joseph was known all the way into Capernaum.  Or perhaps the word had gotten around that Jesus was born in Nazareth and was the son of Joseph.  The Jews struggled over the fact that Jesus could be both son of Joseph and Son of God.  This carries on today, not only with the Jews but with all people.

 

In verse 43 Jesus is very blunt with these people.  He tells them to stop grumbling.  At this stage in the discourse Jesus seems to be getting quite upset, and rightly so.   

 

Then in verse 44 Jesus says it once again.  No one can really come to Him, meaning come to Him in faith, unless His Father draws them to Him.  This means that no one listening to Jesus could understand His words and come to Him in full trust unless God the Father pulled him to Jesus.  I think that Jesus was specifically speaking about God the Father drawing people to Him back then while He was on earth, yet I believe the same holds true today.  Man cannot come to Jesus on our own.  Man cannot understand the things of God unless God the Father, through His Spirit draws Him.  Man does not have the ability to trust his life to Jesus.  We need God's help.  This makes prayer very important on our part.  It is our job to pray that God by His Spirit will draw people to Jesus in order for them to make a clear decision one way or another about Jesus.

 

Jesus then says that He will raise those who come to Him up on the last day.  This is the day of resurrection when Jesus finally returns to earth.  It's the day we receive what has traditionally been called our eternal glorified bodies.  It's the very last day that ends this age.  

 

In verse 45 Jesus quotes from Isaiah 54:13.  "They will be all taught of God."  I believe this Isaiah quote speaks to what Prophetic Futurists call the Thousand Year Rule Of Christ.  When Jesus returns, and He will return to Jerusalem to rule the world, we will receive our glorified eternal bodies.  During these thousand years, we the redeemed, will be taught by God.  Apparently there will be more for us to learn in the era ahead. 

 

In verse 46 Jesus tells the people that no one has ever seen the Father but the One who has come from the Father, meaning Him.  He said this earlier in John.  Why did He say this?  Jesus had just spoken about God drawing and teaching people.  So to make things clear, He tells them that even though God may speak to you in some way, you have never seen Him face to face.  No one has ever seen God.  It might well be possible that no one will ever see God. This is why Jesus will be our representative to God on our behalf for eternity as the book of Hebrews clearly points out.  Jesus is not only our Saviour; He is our priest for eternity.  

 

In verse 47 Jesus clearly states that "he who believes has everlasting life."  The context put this belief as being directed towards Jesus.  Yes, you first have to believe in God the Father who draws you to Jesus, but from that point on, you then put your trust in, or give yourself to, Jesus.  The person who does this will have eternal life.  Remember, the Greek word translated as "believe" here and elsewhere means "trust."  Jesus isn't simply talking about believing as in mental assent. 

 

Once again, in verse 48 Jesus states clearly that He is the bread of life.  He is really trying to make this point clear to those listening.  Manna in the wilderness for the Jews is a thing of the past.  A new age is about to emerge.  It is all about Jesus.  Manna gave physical life to the Jews while in the desert, but Jesus gives spiritual life to those while in the desert of this age. 

 

In verse 49 Jesus says that the Jews ate manna in the wilderness and died.  That bread was material bread which man needs to eat on a daily basis to stay alive. Jesus goes on to say in verse 50 that here is the bread from Heaven.  If you eat of it, you wonít die.  Yes, your physical body as you know it will die, but you will live on forever.  Humans are more than physical beings.  We have a spiritual element to our nature because we have been created in the likeness and image of God.  That means we are a shadowy image of who God is.  God is eternal, without beginning and without end.  We, although having a beginning, have no end.  We either will spend eternity with God or apart from Him.   

 

Verse 51 sounds like cannibalism, but it really isnít.  Jesus says that the bread that He has been speaking about is His body, and that this bread is given to the world.  We know that Jesus was not telling these people that they needed to rip off his arm and cook it for a meal.  He is speaking figuratively.  In our attempt to understand the Bible we need to understand what is figurative and what is literal.  Sometimes, as is in this case, that is obvious.  Other times it is not so obvious, especially when studying the book of Revelation and other prophetic passages.

 

Jesus says that this bread is my flesh that I will give for the life of the world.  We see that Jesusí body is the bread.  We note that His body will be given.  This took place on the cross.  Jesus gave away His body at that point, and it was given to the world.  The cross was not only for the Jews but for all people groups of the world.  Jesus plainly states this to be a fact.  All nations could come and be part of the family of God.  All nations could become children of Abraham.  As the Abrahamic Covenant so clearly put it; all nations would be blessed in Abraham's descendent who we know is Jesus. 

 

The words of Jesus now cause a great commotion among the Jews.  In verse 52 we note that those in the crowd began to argue among themselves over the words of Jesus.  How could one possibly give them their flesh to eat?  Theyíre thinking of cannibalism but Jesus is thinking spiritual food.  Again, there is a disconnect going on here between Jesus and the Jews, but, as the prophets have spoken before, their eyes have been blinded by God Himself.

 

In verses 53 and 54 Jesus responds to their argument, not with a clear cut answer that theyíd understand, but with more of the same and even an addition to what He ass already said.  He says that "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood, you have no life in you."  Now Heís talking about drinking His blood.  That sounds worse than eating His flesh.

 

To have real life we must give our lives to Jesus.  This implies that even though we live on this planet as humans we walk around like dead men.  We are not alive as Adam and Eve were alive prior to their fall from God's grace.  It's my contention that we have no clue what the fall of man did to the life of humanity.  Our beings have been so disrupted that our present state of being is more dead than alive.  That being said, if we hand our lives over to Jesus we begin on the road to restoration that will end when we receive our glorified human bodies.   

 

In verse 55 Jesus says that my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  By this He is saying that what He has to offer is as real as material food and drink is just as important as well.  A matter of fact it is more important.  We know that we donít physically eat Jesusí flesh and drink His blood.  What Jesus is saying is that believing in Him is more than giving mental ascent to what He is saying.  It is more than agreeing with the truth He is presenting.  It is building a relationship with Him in divine fellowship through the Holy Spirit.  This is way more than simply believing with oneís understanding as our modern word believe suggests.  This is the crux of the gospel and is sadly misunderstood in Evangelicalism today.  We say, "Repeat this prayer after me and be saved."  Thereís more to salvation than repeating a prayer.  Eating Jesusí flesh and drinking His blood clearly tells us that.

 

Catholics have taken this passage and have run with it by saying in the Lord's Supper, or communion, the brad and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus as it is digested into our system.  This is a leap into a fantasy world.  I see no connection between what Jesus is saying here and the Lord's Supper.  

 

In verse 57 Jesus says that He draws His life from the Father.  By this I believe He means every aspect of life; every aspect of who He is, is a result of His union with God, His Father.  He then says that if we continue to feast on Him we will draw life from Him, as He draws life from the Father.  Our life as Christians, in all its varying aspects, comes from Jesus.  This is clear.  It does not come from God the Father, only in the sense that the life of God flows first through Jesus and then to us.  This should show you the importance of Jesus in our lives.  If this is so, then we should speak of Jesus much more than we do.  Christians today speak more about God than Jesus these days.  That shouldn't be because much of the world believes in a god.  We need to distinguish the God we serve.  He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as this passage makes clear.  

 

This section ends in verses 58 and 59 with more repetition.  Jesus has repeated Himself over and over again in this section.  He says that to have life eternal we need to eat His flesh and drink His blood.  Obviously He is speaking in a spiritual sense.  His point is that the spiritual is just as important, in fact more important, than the physical.  The physical is earthly and has a defined end.  The spiritual is eternal, without end.  Eating and drinking, that is feasting on Jesus is a spiritual and ongoing experience that gives life to us in all of its varying aspects.  It is much more than simply agreeing with the truth. 

 

John says that all these things were being taught by Jesus while He was in the synagogue in
Capernaum.

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