Read John 6:22-71
22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
26Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
30So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
32Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, 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. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
34"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."
35Then Jesus declared, "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. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
41At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." 42They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"
43"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. 44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
70Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) (NIV)
This is a long passage and repeats itself. John is laying out one of the first of several passages where Jesus speaks to who he is as either bread or water. One can only imagine people hearing this for the first time the difficulty they were having. We have the benefit of partaking of Communion for centuries to help us understand what Jesus was talking about as his body being bread for us to eat.
The first point we see in this passage is Jesus’ discussion with the crowd once they realize he has left the place of the feeding of the people. The people did not realize Jesus had gone. After all, there was only one boat and the people saw the 12 get in the boat and leave without Jesus. They did not know Jesus had walked across the water later that evening.
So once they realize he has gone, they go to Capernaum and are surprised Jesus is already there. So they ask him, “How did you get here?” Notice when asked, Jesus doesn’t answer the question, he changes the subject. This is what Jesus does so often with us. He doesn’t answer our question, but brings us to a different question. He says they are simply looking for physical food to be fed. He tells them they should be looking for a different kind of food that does not spoil. He says put your energy here, not where they were putting it.
The first point is when they ask, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” To which Jesus answers, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” The word we translate “to believe” literally means to commit to or to entrust oneself to. It is really more than believing. If you think about it, many people believe that if you save a little every month since the age of 20, when you retire, you will have great wealth. While they may believe it, they don’t put their trust in it for their future. They look for other things or simply ignore it. The same is true for losing weight. We may believe that eating less and exercising more will cause us to lose weight, but we don’t put our trust in it even though we believe it. This is at the heart of this passage.
Do we trust in what we believe. The rest of the passage, Jesus hits home his other main point. That he is the source or life. Bread was a symbol of the source of physical life. We need food and water to live. But for our spirit, it too needs to be fed. We are fed by learning about Jesus. In verse 45, we read these words, “It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” Part of being fed is learning who Jesus is as Son of God.
Jesus is again speaking spiritual terms about bread and the people are hearing physical terms. This is a repeat of the discussion Jesus had with Nicodemus when Jesus talked about being reborn. We find life for our spirits only in Jesus and need to feed on him constantly. Just as we need to eat regularly, we need to learn about Jesus regularly. And as we learn, we put into practice what we learn. It is a rhythm of life, “Learn, practice, reflect and repeat the process again.” Over and over as we never arrive at have learning it all. There is always something new to learn about Christ’s love, even after walking with him for many years.
And finally, we see that John uses the term “I am” in this passage and other passages. It is a term that links us back to Moses’ encounter with the burning bush. There Moses asked God his name to which God replied, “I am whom I am.”
Jesus is the great I Am. And he is our source of life.
What does it mean to put your trust in Christ as the source of life? I think this looks different for each person and that is what is wonderful about being together. We all live out the Gospel in the unique way God created us with the gifts and talents he has given us.
Blessings and Peace