Tag Archives: manna

Jesus as the Bread of Life in the Book of John

2 Jan

loaves of bread

Almost every culture has bread of some sort. (I’m particularly fond of bread, myself). By this metaphor, we understand that just as bread is a staple of everyday life that feeds and sustains us, so Jesus feeds and sustains us by fellowship with Him through His word. We feed on Him by faith.

Early Christians were often accused of practicing cannibalism because they talked about eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood. But this refers to our communion with Him by faith. This is symbolized in the bread we eat at the Lord’s Supper.

Not only is bread a staple, but Jesus spoke of Himself in this way, as “the bread that came down from Heaven”, to draw His hearers’ minds back to the wandering in the wilderness; to the manna God fed to His people. Manna was ‘angel’s food’. There has never been anything like it since. He even rebuked those who asked for a sign, like Moses gave manna. This was the day after He had just fed the five thousand. He said, “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:49-51

He was demonstrating His superiority both to Moses, and to the manna, itself. It was merely a picture, He was the real thing. It could sustain for only a day, He feeds us and we never hunger again. Manna was bread that rained down from Heaven on the Israelites during their sojourning in the wilderness. Jesus came down from Heaven, but they didn’t recognize Him.

I mentioned how almost every culture has bread of some sort. However, not every culture has yeast bread baked in an oven. Some are flatbreads pressed onto the inside of a hot pot, or made out of cornmeal. But one missionary doing Bible translation in Papua New Guinea worked with a tribe which had no bread of any sort. Their starch, or staple, was the sweet potato. His dilemma came when he had to translate the verse, “I am the bread of life.” John 6:48 He finally decided that since they had no word for bread, or even any concept of what it was, he would conceptualize it so they’d understand the concept of a staple food that nourishes and sustains. So he translated it, you guessed it, “I am the sweet potato of life.”

Prayer“Jesus, I thank You that you are all I need. Yet I often don’t avail myself of You. I eat the junk food the world has to offer. It doesn’t nourish and satisfy like You do. Forgive me. Help me to feed on You by faith.”

Questions– What do you think of the missionary’s decision? What else could he have done, instead?

Response– Consider this the next time you eat bread, or take the Lord’s Supper. Christ is all you need. Make sandwiches and give them to homeless people you pass on your way to work.

Read John 6:22-58

On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”
Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father 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.”
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 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, ‘And they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to 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 him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

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