The Bread of Life
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
- John 6:22–59
Today there are many different opinions about Jesus. This is not surprising because different opinions were also found during Jesus’ public ministry. Then, just as now, some said Jesus was only a prophet or great teacher. Though Jesus certainly was and is these things, He is also much more. The “I AM” sayings in the gospel of John make this clear as Jesus reveals His own understanding of Himself.
“I am the bread of life” is the first “I AM” saying of Jesus we encounter in the gospel of John (John 6:35). The Greek construction lying behind this phrase is very important. To emphasize the “I” in an “I am” statement, writers and speakers would use the construction ego eimi meaning “I, I myself, am.” This is done very rarely in the Bible but ego eimi is the construction we find behind every “I AM” statement in the gospel of John. Significantly, the ego eimi construction is also found in the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14 when God declares of Himself: “I AM WHO I AM.” Over and over again when Jesus utters these “I AM” statements, He is making reference to His own deity. No first century Jew who was trained in the Scriptures would have missed this.
Besides the implicit reference to His own divinity, there is further meaning when Jesus calls Himself “the bread of life.” First of all, just like the manna during the Exodus, Jesus was given by the Father in order to grant and to sustain life. However, unlike the manna which only temporarily satisfied the hunger of the Israelites, those who partake of Christ will never be hungry again because the life He grants and sustains is eternal life (v. 35, 40, 47, 54). Christ’s sustenance is not to be doubted. All who come to Christ in faith will never be cast out (v. 37). The Father has given a definite number to Christ who cannot be lost (v. 39), because the Father compels them to come to Jesus for salvation (v. 44), and because Jesus will raise them up on the last day (v. 39, 54).
Secondly, Jesus also teaches His disciples the purpose for His coming with this statement. The purpose of Christ in His descent as the bread from heaven is to grant and sustain eternal life. This purpose will be accomplished through His redemptive death whereby Jesus will give His life for the sake of the world (v. 51).
Many of us can remember when we first trusted Christ for salvation. Too often, however, we forget that Christ also keeps us in our faith and will not allow His people to fall away. In prayer, confess your absolute dependence on Christ’s sustaining power and thank Him for His grace that keeps you.
Passages for Further Study
- Exod. 3:1–22, 16:1–36
- Matt. 6:7-15
- Luke 22:14–20