The Bread Of Life
John 6:28-35 MKJV Then they said to Him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? (29) Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent. (30) Therefore they said to Him, What sign do you show then, so that we may see and believe you? What do you work? (31) Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, as it is written, "He gave them bread from Heaven to eat." (32) Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses did not give you that bread from Heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven. (33) For the bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world. (34) Then they said to him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (35) And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst.
The crowd are always trying to turn the conversation back to “give us bread” (v.31 & v.34) they are focused on having God meet their physical needs. But Jesus is trying to point them to the meeting of their spiritual needs.
The crowd starts off with a polite question to the Rabbi “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” I think this was meant to impress Jesus with their piety, flatter Him a little, and put Him in a good mood so they would get what they wanted – which was bread. As a missionary I have sometimes been asked to preach in a church and later found out this was just “buttering me up” in the (vain) hope that they would get funding from Australia or America. This question to Jesus is quite similar.
Jesus replies with the quite curt: “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” Faith is Jesus as the Son of God enables us to “work the works of God”, indeed without such faith we “can do nothing” (John 15:5). The true work of God is faith, and all other works flow from that one main work of trust in God.
For instance as a missionary I must first trust the Lord and step out in faith, as I step out in faith and trust God, then from the work of faith flow the other works of teaching, mercy and compassion. The work of faith begins and under girds the whole enterprise- and if that faith should flag, then I end up with a bureaucracy not a ministry.
The next two verses boil down to them trying to strike a bargain with Jesus around the proposition: “Give us bread and we will believe in You”.
(30) Therefore they said to Him, What sign do you show then, so that we may see and believe you? What do you work? (31) Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, as it is written, "He gave them bread from Heaven to eat."
Jesus then decides to use this as a jumping off point to preach the gospel:
(32) Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses did not give you that bread from Heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven. (33) For the bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.
This is very similar to the same “hook” Jesus used with the woman at the well except that “living water” is replaced with “bread from Heaven” and later “bread of life”. Jesus of course is referring to Himself as the true Bread from Heaven (thus making this a good passage for Communion.) Jesus is the One who came down from heaven to give spiritual life and nourishment to all who believe.
The “manna in the wilderness” was simply a type of the true Bread from Heaven, which is Christ. Thus is the Old is fulfilled in the New.
“and gives life to the world” – Christ gives life to the world, to all who will receive it in this world, and without Christ the world is life-less. Without Him we are utterly dead in our trespasses and sins - but by grace He has given us new life and raised us with Him to sit in heavenly realms (Ephesians 4:1-7).
1 John 5:11-12 MKJV And this is the record, that God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son. (12) He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Totally missing the point the crowd asks: “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” And Jesus responds: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst.”
The spiritual hunger of mankind is met in Christ and finds more than enough to satisfy even the most ravenous spiritual appetites. There is so much to Christ that we can never devour it all.
There is a dearth of preaching about Jesus, His attributes and character and miracles and nature – and the people are hungry and thirsty while some pastors share ideas and stories and notions and talk about good things but not God things. Paul preached nothing but “Christ and Him crucified” and I try to make sure every sermon of mine has Christ at the center.
Jesus is the food and drink of the Christian soul and if we are to feed our sheep we must feed them Jesus. Let’s focus our sermons and bible studies on Jesus Christ and His salvation and we shall see true church growth in both grace and number.