Bread of Life

by Dr. Joseph Matos, DBU Faculty

Day 3 of Advent

Today's Reading

John 6:48

“I am the bread of life” (John 6:48).

We need to eat daily. While we can fast for a while, we will not continue if we stop eating for too long. This continual need serves to remind us that the food we eat provides only temporary sustenance.

John 6 records how Jesus used this condition to reveal something about himself.

After Jesus had crossed to the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a great crowd followed him, for they had seen him heal many sick people. When Jesus saw them approaching him, he fed them, five thousand men (besides women and children). Upon experiencing yet another miraculous display the crowd speculated whether Jesus could be “the Prophet who is to come into the world” (6:14; a reference to Deuteronomy 18). But knowing the crowd would try to make him king because he fed them, Jesus and his disciples departed.

The next day the crowd caught up with Jesus and the disciples, who were back on the nearshore of the Galilee the next day.

Jesus pointed out that they followed him only because he fed them, physically. Instead of physical food, they should “work for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give” (6:37). That work was to believe in him, whom God sent. They asked what sign he would give that they might believe. In doing so, they defined for Jesus what their demands to believe in him were. They said God provided bread in the desert through Moses, by which they implied Jesus would have to do something equal or greater than that. Ironically, they initially followed Jesus because he healed people, and then they themselves participated in the feeding he provided. Wasn’t this what they were now demanding? The irony should be evident to the reader.

Jesus showed them their perspective was shortsighted. The bread their forefathers ate in the desert provided only temporary filling, not eternal. They had to eat again because it was not the true bread from heaven. Those who would have eternal life must eat the true bread from heaven. The true bread was the one who himself comes down from heaven. They then asked Jesus for this bread. Then Jesus revealed, “I am the bread of life.” But they had a hard time believing that he, a person whose father and mother they knew, could have come from heaven.

Jesus pressed on, however, repeating that he was the bread of life which came down from heaven (6:48, 51) and that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood for eternal life (a graphic image meaning to believe in him). Jesus used his ability to meet their physical needs as a demonstration of his ability to meet their eternal need.

Like the crowd back then, people today become fixated on daily physical needs. Jesus is aware of such needs. He even taught his disciples to pray that God provides their “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). So, he cared about that. Today, Jesus remains the bread of life, who meets one’s greatest need.