“The Conversationalist” Sermon Series
When Jesus Speaks Through Parables
“I Am The Bread of Life”
“Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The Work That Produces Life (vv. 25-29)
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 6:4 tells us that the setting of the parable is the Passover, and is introduced by two sign-miracles (6:1-21); God supplies manna for the needs of his people and leads the disciples to safety across the dangerous waters of the sea. Later in v. 59 we see that he is teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
The crowd seems to be upset with Jesus because He and the disciples had left them, so they ask, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” – There were also some in this crowd that wanted Jesus to become their king and lead a revolution against the Roman oppression (see 6:15). Jesus doesn’t respond to their question, but speaks to their motives. Jesus is asking them, why are you following me?
Even though they had all night and into the next day to think about the miracle of the multiplying of the loaves and fish, “They were moved not by full hearts, but by full bellies.” They were seeing him as the Messiah, “who could maintain them in a life without toil.” They were hungry again. Jesus is not a genie in a lamp that comes out to give us the wishes of our hearts.
Are you following Jesus because you want Him to fix your immediate life issue, make you wealthy, healthy, make your life easier – or do you truly understand who Jesus is and what the miracle (feeding the five thousand means)? The crowd is focused on the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, and not the meaning behind the miracle. Jesus wanted to teach the crowd something about Himself through the miracle. “They certainly saw the miracle and even tried to make him the messianic prophet and royal Messiah (6:14-15), But they missed the true significance of the “sign” pointed to Jesus as The Bread of Life, not just a miracle worker.”
(v. 27) “Do not work for the food that perishes,– Jesus is telling the crowd to stop seeking food that spoils and go after “the food that endures to eternal life” Jesus gives a similar teaching to the woman at the well in John 4:13 when He tells her “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”
How much time are we spending “building up treasures in heaven,”
In this hunger we ask the question, “Why are we here?”
So thinking that they could do something to earn God’s favor, or do something to receive eternal life for their effort, they ask “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” “They have completely missed Jesus’ central point, repeated again here, that “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
“It is the ‘Cain-heart’ and though there may be a religious profession, a form of godliness, as Cain had it, yet it is solemnly true of the natural man as it was of Cain, ‘the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes’ (Romans 3:17-18). The natural man thinks he can do something and by doing he will make himself acceptable to God. And thus speak of “the golden rule,” as if man had inherent capacity to practice it. Or someone else says “do some good deed every day”; as if good deeds as the way to peace and glory. Even pagans have done this, . . .”
Eternal life is a free gift from God and comes only through faith in Jesus.” They wanted a list of things to check off. Our work is faith in Jesus. The verb that John uses for faith or belief does not mean a mental belief of something, it also included obedience or action. You will act on what you believe to be true.
The Wanting For One More Miracle (vv. 30-34)
30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus has claimed to be God by referring to himself as, the Son of Man (v. 27). And while this crowd has seen him perform the miracle of feeding five thousand people from five loaves and two fish – they want another sign. They reference the Israelites in the wilderness where God provided mana (bread) “from heaven” (Deuteronomy 18:15). They don’t connect that Jesus is his provision as being from heaven, like the manna in the wilderness is “from heaven.” God had provided manna for forty years, Jesus’ miracle was this one occasion. They think that is Jesus is the Messiah, then he should out do Moses.
Jesus corrects them when they say it was Moses that gave them the bread in the wilderness, it was God. And here, it is God who has provided it. The bread that God provides now is a “he.” And so, completely missing the spiritual meaning, they want this bread now, always.
They are thinking that like God providing bread in the wilderness, where they would go and collect it every day – Jesus would now multiply bread (from loaves and fish) “always.” But this bread, that was from long ago, didn’t give eternal life (they all eventually died), but the bread Jesus offers them, once they eat of it, they will live forever.
Jesus did the miracle of multiplying the fish and loaves for a reason – to show how He provides eternal life. They are only thinking about Jesus as a bread miracle worker. They are missing the spiritual implications behind the miracle.
(v. 34) “They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” – They refer to Jesus as “Sir,” not Lord. Earlier they called Jesus “Rabbi, but here their greeting is respectful, but they do not regard Jesus as their Lord. They want the miracle (free ongoing bread and fish), but they do not want to submit to Jesus as God of their lives. Jesus “desired that men should receive him, not simply for what he might give them, but for what he might be to them.”
The Will of the Father that None Will Be Lost (vv. 35-40)
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus says that He is what they need – but what do we do with Jesus? He says there are two things, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” “Later when an awakened sinner cried out, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ the answer was given at once by the Spirit of God, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and your household. Acts 16:31).”
So while we do no work to earn our salvation, Jesus explains that a person must “coming to Jesus, and believing in Him.” Numbers 21:7-9 “Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” If you were bitten by a snake in the wilderness if you would go and look upon the raised bronze serpent, you would be healed. But you had to go and physically look at it.
Jesus is the way for a person to have eternal life – our action we take is to move toward Jesus, and believe that He will save us. He even promises here that anyone who does this will never be cast out.
(v. 39) “but raise it up on the last day.” – This is a reference that at the end of time, The Day of the Lord (Zech. 14:1-9); Those that Come to and believe in Jesus will be with God.
The Wrong Things Being Focused On (vv. 41-51)
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
(v. 41) “So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” – “His ‘I am’ is a solemnly emphatic statement, and in this context has overtones of divinity.” We see that Jesus says He has seen God, that He was sent by God, and here (v. 41) that Jesus is God – from this passage alone one has to decide what they are going to do with Jesus – He cannot be a good moral person, if he lies about being God. He cannot be trusted if He is a lunatic claiming to be God and spouting off teachings, or He really is God that has come down from heaven.
In the wilderness the Israelites grumbled in 14 different occasions (they grumbled and complained about Moses’ leadership, thirst, hunger, they wanted meat, about the giants in the promised land, etc.) John specifically highlights, “the Jews” it is to remind us of their previous grumbling in the wilderness, and they even grumble about Jesus.
Jesus responds to their grumbling by saying, “Do not grumble among yourselves.” – If the goal is understand the things of God, it does no good for the church to grumble.
They are willing to receive the miracle bread, “Sir, give us this bread always,” but how can the carpenter’s son, “the son of Joseph” – we know his parents, how did He come down from heaven? They are being asked to place their faith in Mary and Joseph’s kid – Jesus doesn’t try to prove who He is, but explains, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
With our relationship with Jesus; God draws people to the Son, and those people come to and believes in Jesus. The Christian theologian John Calvin had a lot to say about this concept of God’s election, and human choice in salvation. But it is a “both and” – we can choose God and His gift of salvation, while also God is sovereign in the process. It is not by works that we are saved, but the work we do is to place our faith in Jesus. “Salvation is never achieved apart from the drawing power of God, and it is never consummated apart from the willingness of humans to hear and learn from God.”
(v. 45) “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’” Jesus is quoting Isaiah 54:13. “He will teach them within their hearts. Only those who are taught in this fashion come to Jesus.”
(v. 46) “not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.” Jesus is saying that He is the only person that has seen the Father, and it is because He has been sent by the Father as the only means for anyone to be saved. God has revealed Him as the only Savior through whom anyone can ever be saved (14:6-7). To reject Jesus is to ensure that you will never know God. Stop grumbling and focusing on the wrong things – If you come to Jesus and believe in Him, you will be with God forever – if you reject Him there is no other way of salvation.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
(v. 40) “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.” There was miracle bread in the OT, and Jesus provided them with miracle bread (multiplication of the loaves and fish), and “The physical bread on the hills would not guarantee life any more than the manna did” in the OT.
Jesus very clearly is claiming to be God (because only He has seen the Father), he was sent by God so that people may have eternal life (by coming to and having faith in) Jesus, and is the only way to be saved – if one follows the law, you will eventually die, but if you believe in the one who the law points to, and the prophecies point to – then you will be saved.
(v. 51) “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” – “To eat of this bread means to appropriate Christ as one’s life. Jesus equals life.
The Willingness of the Disciple to Consume Jesus (vv. 52-59)
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught sat Capernaum.
Jesus has pointed this crowd to the Israelite wilderness experience (the lifted up serpent, manna from heaven, grumbling by the people) which begins with the Passover meal as they leave Egypt and slavery, and here as he is teaching in Capernaum at the time of the Passover – now references the Passover meal. The family as they are celebrating the Passover meal must eat all of the Passover lamb – consume it completely.
Jesus is saying that as the Bread of Life, his followers must consume him completely. Half-hearted followers fall away, v. 66 The disciples said to Jesus, this is very hard, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” Jesus starts this teaching with focusing on the things that are of eternal significance – the truly important things in this life. Far too many Christians want to focus on the treasures of this world – and end up being half-hearted followers of Jesus.
“In John 4:10 he offered the Samaritan woman “living water” to drink, and now he is “living bread” to eat. This is the sixth of seven times in this chapter Jesus describes himself as descended from heaven, further stressing his true origin from God.” But He demands full, complete devotion (because God is worthy of our everything).
This is one of the greatest paradoxes of Christianity, that life comes through death. Jesus dies that we may live, and we die to the things of this world, so that we may live for God (Rom. 6:4-6). In order for you to have eternal life, you give Jesus your entire life, and He lays down His life in exchange for yours.
 C. S. Lewis, from the sermon “The Weight of Glory”
 Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan, WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981) 358.
 W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967) 751.
 Grant R. Osborne, Osborne New Testament Commentary, John Verse by Verse (Bellingham, Washington; Lexhan Press, 2018) 157.
 “All earth’s full rivers cannot fill, The sea, that drinking thirsteth still.” Christiana Rossetti, “By the Sea.”
 B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, The Authorized Version with Introductory Notes (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981) 100.
 Arno C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of John, A complete analytical Exposition (Neptune, New Jersey; Loizeaux Brothers, 1982) 124.
 Osborne, 158.
 Gerald L. Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman & Holman Publishing, 1996) 263.
 They are comparing what think Moses did (the feeding of over a million people), to Jesus’ only feeding five thousand.
 “There was a tradition (quoted by Lightfoot and Wünsche) that ‘as the first Redeemer caused manna to fall from heaven, even so should the second Redeemer cause manna to fall.’ For this sign then, or one like this, the people looked from Him whom they were ready to regard as Messiah.” Westcott, 101.
 Merrill C. Tenney, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1981) 76.
 This is one of seven “I am” statements Jesus makes in this gospel; The bread of life (6:35); the light of the world (8:12); the gate (10:7,9); the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14); the revelation and the life (11:25); the way, the truth, and the life, (14:6); and the true vine (15:5). Osbourne, 161.
 Gaebelein, 124.
 Morris, 365.
 Borchert, 268.
 Morris, 372.
 Borchert, 269.
 Osbourne, 169.