“I am the bread that gives life”
John is a master of storytelling and uses many techniques to tell the story. One of the techniques that he uses is that of following a miracle with a story or conversation to explain the meaning of the miracle or another matter that was addressed by the miracle. This is the case in our text for this study,
We are going to look at this story in our study for the week. Let’s start by setting the scene. To answer the following questions please refer to (John 6:11-15)
1. What miracle took place on the day before this conversation?
2. What did the people say about Jesus after they saw the miracle?
3. What did they want to do with Jesus after the miracle?
Wrong intentions – a “bread king”
We read that the following the people start looking for Jesus again. At last they find him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called the sea of Tiberias or the sea/lake of Gennesaret). Unfortunately they were looking for Jesus for the wrong reasons and with the wrong intentions.
1. What were they looking for? (Vs. 26)
2. What should they actually have been looking for? (Vs. 27)
A (another) sign
From Jesus’ words in 6:26-27 the people should have understood that he was trying to convey a spiritual message to them. Although there is a misunderstanding (another technique John likes to use) we do get the feeling that in a sense they wanted to understand and accept this message.
1. Look at verse 28; what need did they express?
2. Now look at Jesus’ answer in verse 29; what does he demand of them, for this need to be realized?
3. They counter Jesus’ demand with one of their own before they would believe in him (vs. 30). To what event does this refer? (Vs. 31)
4. Read John 6:14 again and remember that the people that Jesus is talking to in 6:26-30 are the same people. Why would you consider their request or demand unnecessary?
Bread or Bread
Jesus explains that his message has nothing to do with bread that can be consumed as food (cf. vss. 32-33). Judging from their reaction the crowd misunderstand his words (vs. 34). This leads to Jesus responding with the well known words: “I am the bread of life.” (vs. 35) Answering the following question will help you understand what he meant by this.
1. Whoever does not eat this “bread that gives life” will remain hungry (vs. 35) and run the risk of dying (vs. 50). What is Jesus talking about, what is this condition that will lead to death? Romans 6:20-21 might be helpful.
2. How does one receive this bread that gives life? Look at John 6:35 again there are two things that need to happen (both of these things are written as verbs).
3. When does everlasting life start according to 6:47? Is this what you thought before reading this verse?
To eat or not to eat
To have food on my plate does not mean that my hunger has been satisfied. I have to eat the food to satisfy my hunger. The same goes for the “bread of life”; some people eat the “bread” but others just push the plate away.
1. What happens to people who don’t “eat” this bread? (vs.53)
2. What assurance do people have that decide to come to Jesus with their “hunger”? (vs. 37)
Characteristics of true life
In John 6:54-57 Jesus ties this image of the “bread of life” with the image of the bread of communion. These four verses explain the nature of eternal life.
1. What was the cost involved for Jesus so we can have everlasting life? (vs. 55)
2. Verses 54-57 name a few characteristics of everlasting life. Try and find the meaning of each of these:
- 2.1 “I will raise him up at the last day” (vs. 54)
- 2.2 “remains in me,” (vs. 56) (i.e. remains in Christ)
- 2.3 “… and I in him” (vs. 56) (i.e. Christ remains in that person)
- 2.4 “will live because of me” (vs. 57)
To think about
How is someone’s life a reflection of the fact that he or she has eaten the true “bread of life”? You might find John 6:54-57 helpful.
Take time in prayer to thank Jesus for giving you the bread of life.