Becker Bible Studies Applications
John 6 - The Bread of Life
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." (John 6:32-33 KJV)
The great multitude who were fed fully through the miracle of the increase of five barley loaves of bread and two small fishes, sought after Jesus to make him King (Holy Bible John 6:15). They were desperate to find the prophet who did miracles in their midst; when they were unable to find him on one side of the sea, they took to ships to look upon the other shore. When they had located him, Jesus taught them the deep things of God that revealed him to be the Bread of Life and declared his hidden nature of God that would one day be known completely.
Jesus carefully taught them the principles of bread that reflected the spiritual focus, rather than the physical needs of common food. The Bread of Life was more than nourishment and it was more than the miracles. It was life itself, giving the hungry partakers a chance of true filling, with the result of eternal life forever for those who ate. Jesus taught them the first principles of the spiritual bread of life, taking care to bring them to understanding with a logical progression of ideas.
1. It was not the supernatural miracle of the increase of bread that caused them to seek after him; but rather, it was the filling they received from eating that bread fed to them by Jesus Christ (Holy Bible John 6:26).
2. Jesus taught them to not labor for the food that will perish, but rather seek out the food which endures forever. This food includes the Bread of Life, which Jesus Christ gives them through his doctrines that is formed by His Being (Holy Bible John 6:27).
3. He taught them the requirement of God that they believe on the Son of God who was sent to them, so they might His works (Holy Bible John 6:28-30).
4. Jesus identified himself as the true bread of Heaven that was pre-shadowed by the earlier manna eaten by the wandering tribes in the desert.
5. Jesus Christ then taught them one of the eternal Truths of God. "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (Holy Bible John 6:35)."
It was the past that brought the Truth forward, as Jesus Christ revealed he was the "I am, the Provider for life that was seen first in the wanderings of the Tribes of Israel. The Jews could relate to the beginning teachings of this most deep of Truths, because they had only the "I AM" to rely upon for their life to be sustained in the harshest of conditions. They also knew the deep meaning of manna to be representative of the "bread from Heaven (Towns 63)."
The LORD God heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, and He commanded Moses to say to them "I am the LORD your God," as he sent them quails and manna from Heaven to sustain them on their journey (Holy Bible Exodus 16:12). The small round things resembling hoar frost came to the hungry Israelites with the dew of the morning. It was the bread that the LORD had given them to eat (Holy Bible Exodus 6:15).
The manna was the same type of bread, but made better and perfect, by the Lord Jesus Christ in the form of the Bread of Life. Jesus' sermon in teaching them this more perfect doctrine was telling them that they should not prefer Moses, but rather choose him which supplies far more excellent food. It is the nature of the Bread of Life, which comes down from heaven that makes it perfect, "because it has nothing earthly or corruptible in its nature, but breathes the immortality of the kingdom of God (Calvin 269)." The Bread of Life is at least representative of the divine essence of Jesus Christ. His life is placed in the flesh, so that life can be drawn out of it. Some would argue that it was impossible for Jesus to give life when facing his eventual own death, however, John Calvin challenges this opinion. He points out that his flesh is a channel that gives life intrinsically through his Divinity (Calvin 262). Calvin suggests that although Jesus Christ walked upon the earth with nature of man, the divinity of God was always with him, and able to give life to those who in faith partakes of Him.
But was the divinity of the LORD God within Jesus Christ as he walked upon the earth with the nature of man, or was this glorified being held in Heaven, for him to receive once again upon his Resurrection? Is it possible that Jesus Christ confidently identified himself as "I am" without realizing the fullness of Godhead at that time? Colin Kruse acknowledges the significance of the "I am" statement, however, he reflects a deeper connection to the LORD God than Calvin's commentary suggests. Rather than suggesting that Jesus Christ holds the complete divinity of the LORD GOD has a human being, Kruse mentions that the "eternal security is tied to the Son's obedience to the Father, on the one hand, and to the will of the Father, on the other. For any of those whom the Father has given to his Son to be lost would mean that Jesus failed to carry out his Father's will, and that the will of the Father had been thwarted (Kruse 170, 171)." A deep connection such of this is probably closer to the reality of deified nature once known, and again received, upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When the LORD God fed manna to the Israelites in the wilderness, He wanted them to know that man does not live by bread only, but through every word that proceeds out of His mouth (Holy Bible Deut 8:1-3). When Jesus Christ had fasted forty days and forty nights and was hungry, then the temptation of Satan came to him. He refused the temptation and connected the Bread of Life to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD God (Holy Bible Mt 4:1-4). Jesus is the Word of God (Holy Bible John 1:1-3). Whether he held the entire deified nature of the LORD God inside him as a human, or left it in Heaven for awhile to fulfill his Father's will, does not take away his identity as the Word of God. It is this identity as the Word of God, that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD God, that gives Jesus Christ the right to announce to the world his identity with the words "I am" (McFarland).
In final analysis, however, the nature of Jesus Christ did not have to carry full Godhead within him as he walked upon the earth; that he assumed full deity upon His arising is unquestioned. What is important is that believers understand that the Bread of Life feeds the whole man, "including his intellectual and physical being as well as his spiritual (Mauro 202)." Obtaining our sustenance from the Bread of Life completely, allows us to be transformed with the Holy Spirit and the promise of redemption for eternal life. It is these deep things of God that is revealed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, as he feeds his followers with the True Bread of Life.
Calvin, John. Calvin's Commentaries. Vol. XVIII. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005. 22 vols.
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About the Author
Kathy L. McFarland is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Religious Studies from Liberty University, and is currently seeking her Master of Divinity (Professional Ministries Track) degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary & Graduate School. Kathy is a noted expert on Old Testament exegesis, Christian apologetics, and Bible typology and mysteries.