"I Am the Bread of Life

The 7 "I Am" sayings of Jesus in John's Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  21:31
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
It is easy for us to look back and see the meaning of Jesus’ metaphor, “I Am the bread of life”
We have 2000 years of Christian tradition that helps us to see the significance of what Jesus was on about.
But many of the people that Jesus said these words to completely missed his point.
Their context was different, they had different expectations.
In their mind the miraculous provision of bread echoed the time of Moses.
Moses had provided them with bread from heaven, the mana that was the staple food of Israel in the wilderness.
In their minds Moses had saved them from the oppression of the Egyptians.
He was in effect a type of Messiah, one who freed the people.
And for the people in Jesus’ day they saw many similarities.
They were not in captivity under the Egyptians; they were occupied by the Romans.
They yearned for freedom and just as Moses had come to free them, so a new Messiah was coming who would liberate them from the Romans.
This is why they ask Jesus to give them a sign that he is in effect the Messiah
John 6:30–31 NLT
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
That is why earlier on when Jesus had miraculously fed them they wanted to make him King in verses 14-15.
They had a picture, it was the wrong one.
How often do we have the wrong picture of something?
It might be that we look at a situation and we just can’t see what the other person is getting at.
It often happens in marriages.
You are discussing some issue, often a plan for the day or how you will go about something and it just goes downhill from there.
One of you thinks that you should approach the problem this way.
The other disagrees.
You are talking about the same thing, but you are not.
Toni & I had such a situation when we were talking about her wedding dress, many years ago.
I use this illustration because it is safer for me than using a more recent one.
I insisted that her wedding dress must be white.
Men & women apparently have a different perspective on what is white and what is some other colour.
When your bride to be tells you that the dress is a colour, any colour; as a male you see that it something other than white.
And as a young man who hasn’t yet learnt how things work in such situations you get upset and tell your bride to be that she has to wear white.
Now I might have learnt some things since then but....
Toni went and took the material back and totally changed the plans for the wedding dress.
Sometime later she walks me past the wedding shop window and points out a dress and asks what colour it is.
My response, “it is white”.
Apparently that was the wrong answer.
What I saw as white is apparently some other colour, the one she originally chose.
For men white is this wide..... , for women apparently there are 100 different colours in that range.
Now while this difference of perspective had some cost to me at the time.
The difference of perspective that the people had with Jesus was of eternal significance.
Not only did they have an expectation of a Messiah who would free them.
They only perceived the entire situation from that physical perspective.
A miracle worker who would feed them and free them.
But Jesus was talking about something completely different.
Look at John 6 verses 22 to 29.
John 6:22–29 NLT
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. 23 Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. 25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” 28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
They were wondering how Jesus got to where he was, he didn’t get in the boat so did he walk around the northern shore of the lake in the dark?
Notice Jesus’ non reply to their question in verse 26.
Notice the completely opposite perspective in verses 28-29.
For them, doing God’s will simply required a physical action.
For Jesus it was about belief and relationship in the one God sent.
We make the same mistake today.
Following Christ so often becomes about keeping the rules, “being a good person”
But again and again Jesus points out that what we do is simply an outworking of who we are in relationship with.
Being a fine upstanding middle class member of the community is nothing more than keeping the rules unless it results from relationship with Christ.
Christianity without Christ is actually empty religiosity.
Belief in Christ as the bread from heaven is to look to Christ for nourishment on both a physical and a spiritual level.
Without that relationship we are spiritually malnourished, in fact we are in famine.
Sadly many amongst the crowd didn’t or wouldn’t get it.
They were locked into a perspective that kept them blind to the truth.
They couldn’t see the metaphor of bread representing fellowship with Jesus.
They couldn’t see the extension of that metaphor to Jesus being the nourishment of their spirit.
They couldn’t see that Jesus was drawing a line between the mana which God provided through Moses and the bread which is Christ himself.
And as we continue to read through the encounter of Jesus and this crowd we see his words getting more and more pointed.
John 6:36–42 NLT
36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” 41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
Again Jesus speaks of relationship and dependence, of trust and security.
Again the people see only the physical.
And in verses 41 & 42 we see opposition forming.
In the original language verse 41 speaks of “the Jews” murmuring.
This is the first time that this term is used in John’s Gospel to represent a particular group of people.
Almost all those following Jesus were Jewish, so this distinction is important.
John is not speaking of “the people” but those amongst the people who are enslaved to a religious view of things instead of a spiritual view of things.
Those who refuse to see the metaphor that Jesus is using as true teaching because they will not look beyond the physical to the spiritual truth.
These were the ones who saw Jesus’ claim to being the bread that came down from heaven as a claim to being more than just a prophet, more than just a representative of God as Moses was.
They saw the claim as a form of blasphemy.
A claim to being more than Moses, a claim to being God.
They had chosen to forget that the people opposed Moses much of the time as well.
Now they would also oppose the one who came down from heaven.
Just to make sure that his claim was clear Jesus repeats himself in verses 43 to 58.
John 6:43–58 NLT
43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. 45 As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.) 47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” 52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. 53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
We see this stated in verse 53 where it states, “So Jesus said again”
Unless we take spiritual nourishment from relationship with Christ we have nothing.
In Jewish life bread spoke of fellowship.
God’s nourishment and sustaining of his people.
During the celebration of Pentecost, two loaves of leavened bread were offered as sacrifices (Lev. 23:17).
In the tabernacle, and later in the temple, the Levites placed twelve loaves of unleavened bread, or bread without yeast, before the Lord each week to symbolize God’s presence with the twelve tribes (Ex. 25:30).[2]
When Jesus had this encounter with the crowd it was near the time of Passover.
A powerful reminder in Israel’s’ history of God’s provision.
A time when bread baked without yeast reminded people of deliverance.
But these people missed what they needed to be delivered from.
They needed to be delivered from spiritual starvation and all they wanted to do was fill their stomachs and get rid of the Romans.
This concept of Jesus as the bread of heaven applies equally to us today.
We also are in need of spiritual nourishment.
We also are in need of eternal life.
And we too can only find this life in Jesus, the true bread from heaven.
Are you open to all that Jesus meant when he used this metaphor?
Or is Jesus the one you follow when you want to be blessed but ignore when he asks for complete dependence?
[1] Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, pp. 139–140). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Jn 6:46–47). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Bread, is a staple food for large parts of the world.
It has symbolic significance in religion and culture.
Without it many people would face starvation.
Bread and its significance formed a significant part of Jesus’ ministry.
When Jesus feed the 5000 there were also women and children. Potentially 10 000, 15 000, 20 000 people.
He feed then with the staple foods of that time, Bread & fish.
A miracle of provision, certainly.
A sign of Jesus being sent from heaven, definitely.
The people recognized this in verse 14 when they said, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”” (John 6:14, NLT)
Bread represents life, when eaten with others it represents fellowship with them.
And that is the simple meaning of John 6:35 where Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NLT)
Jesus was using metaphorical language.
As bread is life, so I am life.
As you understand that bread will give you physical sustenance so also understand that Jesus will give you spiritual life.
As we gather at this table today, we remember another occasion when Jesus used the metaphor of bread representing him.
When Jesus gathered his disciples together for the last supper, what we today call communion, he took some bread and broke it and said.
Luke 22:15–20 NLT
15 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. 16 For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” 19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
Here Jesus speaks of his body being a sacrifice.
In John 6 he declares that he is spiritual life.
Different concepts but related concepts.
Today I invite you to share in fellowship with Christ & each other.
Today remember that the one whose body was a sacrifice to pay for your sins is also the one in whom there is life.
Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus when you stood before the people and said, “I AM the bread of life’ you offered the people spiritual life through relationship with you.
When you reclined at the table with your disciples on the night that one of them betrayed you and said, “This is my body which is given for you do this (eat it) in remembrance of me” You offered us the means of reconciliation with the heavenly Father, the forgiveness of our sin.
Lord through you let us seek life, let us receive forgiveness. Amen.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more