“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life…”
BACKGROUND: After the start of His ministry in Judea, it became obvious that the crowds which followed the Lord Jesus misunderstood or wilfully ignored the real purpose of His coming. They followed Him chiefly for material advantages and political ends. To them He was a great physician and had the possibility of becoming their political messiah. As He moves His ministry to the region of Galilee, we find that the crowds that are now following Him have very much the same ideas and even wish to take it a step further as they were willing to accept Him as their political leader as long as He would continue to supply their daily rations. “After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” <6:14-15 NIV see Deut.18:15, 18; Psa.72:1-19 > The passage in Deuteronomy together with Psalm 72 were no doubt passages of the scripture that was well known to the Jews who were looking for their coming Messiah, and was quite likely the reason why they were willing to make Him king by force. It is unfortunate that these people, like many people today, did not understand that Christ did not come for the primary purpose of satisfying the material needs of mankind. It is essential that all people everywhere understand that our greatest need in life is the forgiveness of God of our sins without which we can never enjoy life to its fullest. What these people had failed to see was the sign of the true prophet as stated in Deuteronomy 18:14‑22. Like mankind today, they came to Him (Jn.6:25) only because they had eaten of the loaves and fishes and were filled (Jn.6:26); they had not come looking for peace with a Holy God.
JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE:  The first thing to learn from this account is that the Lord Jesus not only heals, He also prevents diseases. The resultant weakness from starvation causes a low resistance of the body to disease. This translates into the spiritual life as well. A lack of spiritual food results in little or no resistance to temptation. The Lord Jesus is needed not only for salvation, but daily as a means of spiritual nutrition. Without Him human life lacks the element that gives reality, meaning and zest.  Secondly, our Lord supplied the same food to all the people. Similarly the spiritual food that God provides is able to satisfy all people no matter what their race or creed may be. Thus you and I have to be careful if we find that we cannot appreciate the spiritual food that God offers us. If we have no appetite for the things of Christ, and all that He speaks to us of is dreary and uninteresting, then this is a fatal loss of appetite on our part. Christ emphasises that the bread He gives is Himself. Therefore, we must ask the question: “What is there in Christ that makes Him the Bread of Life?” He is sent by the Father : the people are looking for a sign from Christ that He is the true prophet, but His response to them is that the only sign they will get is the ones they have already seen <6:30-31 NIV>. In refusing any other sign, our Lord indicates that the bread which their fathers received in the desert did not prevent them from dying, it was meant to sustain physical life; but the bread He is offering will sustain life for ever . Christ is the Bread from heaven, and in Christ, God gives Himself to us that by Christ’s life we may live eternally. Thus in contrast to the “dead bread” that filled their physical needs, Christ, the Bread that is “alive” fills our spiritual needs for evermore. The law that controls the physical also controls the spiritual; that is, life cannot be sustained except by consuming food that has been alive. Nutrition in our food has been assimilated by the plant or animal from the environment in which it lives; and so it is with our spiritual food. As the Word of God became flesh, that word cleanses and sustains our spiritual life, because Christ lives in the power of an endless life.  He specifically says that the bread He will give is His flesh: . It is in the act of dying for mankind that He becomes the Bread of life. A person who becomes sick because of eating a particular type of food, or food that is not good for eating, has to make serious decisions or in some cases seek medical advice concerning a proper diet. Likewise, as believers, we too should carefully consider our spiritual diet; since the old proverb applies to the spiritual life as well: “we are what we eat!”. Thus by eating His flesh we live forever.  How do we avail ourselves of the life that is in Christ?: . The same answer given to the people on that day is the answer that is given to us today: From this passage there are three things that are evident: (1). WE MUST BELIEVE: there were many in the crowd that day that believed in Christ. They believed He was a great physician, a great leader, the promised prophet; but unlike them we must believe that He is the Son of the living God; That He is God, God manifest in the flesh; the Saviour of mankind; God’s eternal sacrifice for our sins; and that He is the only hope of our redemption and peace with a Holy God. (2). WE MUST COME: thousands of people had come to Christ on that day, but there was no real spirit of submission or trust in Him. They came only for their physical satisfaction. To “come to Him”, means we must submit to Him and accept Him for who He really is: the “Sent One”, the “Messiah”, the “Holy One of God”. (3). WE MUST EAT HIS FLESH AND DRINK HIS BLOOD: at this point let us pause and understand an important concept. This statement of our Lord is not in the context of the emblems at the Communion or Breaking of Bread service. The Breaking of Bread was instituted on a different occasion, and nowhere in scripture is it taught that the bread becomes His flesh and that the wine becomes His blood. What we have in this statement is a relationship between Christ and ourselves that must be of the closest possible kind, as close as the assimilation of the food we eat. In essence the food we eat becomes our flesh and blood, our life, our very being; and this does not occur by our looking at it, or believing in it, but our actual eating of it. And this truth must be transferred to our spiritual lives, we must adapt the process that makes Christ entirely ours and that assimilates all that He is into our spiritual lives. Christ’s flesh was given for us in the shedding of His blood and by the outpouring of His life on the cross, thus providing spiritual life for us. In this act our cleansing from sin and restoration to God was accomplished. We eat His flesh and drink His blood when we accept for ourselves His eternal sacrifice on the cross, and by daily feasting on His bread as we allow our sinful nature to be penetrated by the spirit of His cross and make Christ the source and guide of our lives. We should also remember that eating is an individual act. In order for my physical body to be nourished I must eat. In order for my spiritual life to be nourished I must eat. No one else can do this for me.  The mode of distribution The bread that He gives is His, and it never changes, the distribution however varies in time and place. It was the natural order then as it is now, that those who believe and feed on Him should be the means of distribution to the world in need. The small portion that would satisfy one individual was more than enough to satisfy the whole crowd. We can decide to distribute what we have received or to withhold the blessing to ourselves.  The result of the discourse The first observation we make is that the discourse between Christ and the Jews ends in a parting of ways . Whenever we are faced with the claims of Christ and His sacrificial death we are obliged to make one of two decisions. We either accept Him and eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, or we turn aside and go our own way. What will be your decision?
The second observation is that the “twelve” continued to follow, and there are three reasons given by Peter for this decision. (1). Jesus satisfied their deepest spiritual needs. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” They had found that not only their physical needs had been supplied, but most of all Christ supplied their spiritual needs on a daily basis. The more time they spent with Him the more they got to know Him, and the greater became His influence upon their lives. They had not found anyone else who could do the same for them. (2). They were convinced that no one else could satisfy their spiritual needs. “You have the words of eternal life.” The words that Jesus spoke were spoken with greater authority than any other Rabbi. (3). They knew that He was the Messiah“We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Their belief went beyond that of the promised prophet, or great physician or political messiah. They understood Him to be the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and God manifest in the flesh.
There are two types of people who respond to the call of God. One who has little desire to feast on the Bread of Life and thus becomes undernourished and diseased in their spiritual life. The other regularly feasts on the Bread of Life and grows because of the nourishment received. Let us remember that “we are what we eat” and that no one else can eat for me. We each need to eat of the Bread of Life. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.”
“O to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.” (Thomas O. Chisholm)