And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
In His teaching, Jesus sometimes used startling terminology. With His difficult statements, He blew apart people’s preconceived notions and conveyed spiritual realities. Let’s be glad that He did! In doing so, Jesus showed us the way to salvation.
The conversation that began between Jesus and the Jews, when the people tried to make Jesus king, took place over several days. It began on the shore of the Galilee and culminated in the synagogue. Jesus would speak; the Jews would then respond and go away to discuss it. It was an ongoing debate.
The Bread of Life
Jesus told these men, among other things, that He was the Bread of Life. The Jews, who sought fulfillment by other means, became offended.
Jesus knew that the Jews were complaining, “What’s He talking about, saying He came down from heaven? Isn’t this Jesus? We know His father and mother.” His reply to them was significant: “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:43–44).
This statement needs to be understood. Jesus was reminding the Jews that salvation is ultimately of the Lord—not of the Jewish religious system itself. These religious leaders appeared to be in tune with God, but Jesus told them, “You don’t know God. You’re murmuring about Me because you’re not being drawn by the Father.”
Despite the Jews’ displeasure, Jesus reiterated His claim: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51). Jesus didn’t change His message because the Jews didn’t like it. He made His point again.
People get upset with Christians today. Don’t say that Jesus is the only way to God! they say. How should we respond? By repeating the message. It’s the truth. We should never back down from the truth.
Sifting Wheat from Chaff
Jesus not only refused to withdraw His claim, He now used offensive terminology to expound on it: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). This statement was highly abhorrent to His listeners. It was strictly forbidden under the Mosaic system to drink blood.
In saying these things Jesus was sifting the wheat from the chaff. He was separating those who were interested in Him for wrong reasons from those whose motives were right. We are into big numbers. We judge a meeting’s validity by the number of people who show up. Jesus didn’t have a numbers hang-up. In fact, His words were so offensive to those following Him that many decided they couldn’t handle what He had to say and left.
What Did Jesus Mean?
What exactly did Jesus mean by saying that His followers were to eat His flesh and drink His blood? The Roman Catholic Church has concluded that Jesus gives us His actual body and blood when we take Communion. But Scripture offers no support for this idea. Later, when Jesus distributed the bread and the cup to His disciples, how could the bread have been His physical body? His body was fully intact as He broke the bread. And He referred to the cup as the “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:29)—actual wine. Clearest of all is that when Jesus made His statement to the crowd, He used the aorist verb tense, which expresses a one-time event, not a repeated event like Communion.
So what was this one-time event He spoke of? Receiving Him. We receive Christ not through the partaking of a sacrament but by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. In this one-time event of receiving Christ, we fulfill Jesus’ command to eat His flesh and drink His blood.
The religious leaders were offended by these words, but we can be unspeakably thankful that Jesus spoke them. The gospel offends the natural man, but in doing so it leads us to life. May we receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, and continue to grow in Him by feeding on His Word.
Have you partaken of Jesus, the Bread of Life? If you haven’t, will you receive Him today? If you have, feast on the Word of God. Spend as much time in the Scriptures as you can. In Jesus’ words, we find supernatural power, and our spiritual man is edified.