Jesus said: “I AM the Bread of Life”
OT connection: Gen. 22:14, Yahweh Yireh — the LORD will provide
John 6:25-36 NLT (compare this with your own Bible)
The context: Immediately after the miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand, Jesus and the disciples took a boat across the Sea of Galilee and landed near Capernaum. Some of the crowd, guessing where Jesus would be found, found their way there around the shoreline.
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.”
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.’ ”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now He offers you the True Bread from heaven. 33 The True Bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in Me even though you have seen Me.”
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.”
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.”
To reflect on, and ‘become one of the crowd’
Who is Jesus of Nazareth? In each of these I AM sayings, (v.35) Jesus is making a statement: He looks like a son of man (human being – which He was), but He is also God incarnate, the Messiah. Each saying represented a facet, a particular covenant name, of God.
What was the need here? Jesus was saying that He was the living provision, not just regular bread but the ‘Living Bread’ because Yahweh Yireh – the God who provides – had come to them. This looks back to Genesis 22 and Abraham’s need of a sacrifice offering with His son Isaac the only candidate, and God’s miraculous provision, Genesis 22:14 – “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”).
What is the history they are remembering? It also looks back to another miraculous provision – the manna for 40 years in the wilderness, Exodus 16, which the crowd attributed (wrongly) to Moses. There was a popular expectation that the long-expected Messiah would repeat this, and Jesus has multiplied ordinary bread to feed a crowd once. But are they making the right comparison?
Questions to think about, to help focus the discussion. No right or wrong answers!
1. What is the simple story here?
2. On a more spiritual level, what is going on here, the story within a story? What do the people want (vv.30-31) and what does Jesus’ hold out to them, which isn’t quite what they want? (vv.35-36)
3. What does the crowd seem to be preoccupied with? (vv.28-29 and v.30).
4. What does Jesus emphasise, in reply? What is the one “work” Jesus demands of us? (v.29) What does this look like, day by day in ordinary life?
5. What long-held understanding or teaching, among religious and ordinary Jews, was Jesus overturning? (vv.28, 47)
6. Why do we seem to prefer ‘doing and earning’, rather than ‘believing and receiving’?
7. How is Jesus defined by the crowd (in v.28), and defined by Himself (v.35)? So, what is it He is leading them to understand in a new way?
8. If what Jesus requires is a ‘faith stretch’ for us, what do we experience together or share together, that will help us and make it less of a stretch on our own?
9. How would you explain what it means to believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life? Jesus said that He is Bread of Life. What he meant was that…
10. What is the significance of Abraham giving the Lord a name which recalls a particular event? How does it help us – help our prayer life in particular – to know the Lord, who is known by that covenant name?
11. What was “bread from heaven” (v.32) and who gave it? What did it do for the people, and for how long? (Exodus 16:4, 14-15, 19)
What did Jesus say that He would do for them, as the True Bread, and what was the difference (vv. 32-34, 40, 47-51)
12. How, in very practical terms, do we receive and feed on True Bread every day? What does this do for us? What needs does it meet?
Access this online: https://is.gd/pWH5rt
Handout to print (4pp A5)