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John 6:35-51 – Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life

Summary

Jesus identifies himself as the bread from heaven that brings life to whomever eats.

Analysis

Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." He says this to people for whom bread is the most basic of foods. It is not a luxury item, but a necessary part of daily life. The context of this saying is the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus has just fed a crowd with bread and fish, and they now come looking for more bread. The bread that Jesus gave them brought life for their bodies, and now Jesus says that he himself is the bread that brings life in a fuller sense. In John's Gospel, true life is lived in relationship with God. To be truly alive is to be in relationship with the God who gives life. Jesus brings people into relationship with God by giving of himself, and the ultimate gift will be the gift of his own life through crucifixion. This is one of the seven "I am" sayings in John's Gospel. Since the expression "I am" recalls the name of God, who is the "I Am" (Exodus 3:14), these sayings emphasize that Jesus is God's Word in the flesh.

John 6:35-51

35 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ 43Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

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10 February 2011

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