Jesus the Bread of Life

John 6:47-58

47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"

53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven -- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." NKJV

 

This passage has caused more arguments among Christians than most any other. There are three main understandings of this passage.

  1. Transubstantiation
    1. Held by Catholics and also Greek and Russian Orthodox
    2. The alleged conversion or change of the substance of the bread and wine in the eucharist into the body and blood of Jesus Christ at the time the officiating priest utters the words of consecration. (from McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia)
    3. That those who do not regularly partake cannot go to heaven.
    4. That the Lord's Supper is a sacrament whereby grace is acquired by the participant.
    5. But this was not widely taught until the eighth century and then was hotly disputed until the council of Trent in the eleventh century.
  2. Consubstantiation
    1. Held by Lutherans
    2. That although the elements do not become the actual body and blood of Jesus, but that "with and by means of the consecrated elements the true natural body and blood of Christ are communicated to the recipients." (from McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia)
    3. That the Lord's Supper is a sacrament whereby grace is acquired by the participant by believing in the sacrament performed.
    4. SACRAMENT "Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him." (from McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia)
  3. Baptist
    1. To understand this we must look at the rest of John's gospel
      1. Notice Jesus teaching to Nicodemus.
        1. John 3 - the new birth
        2. 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
        3. 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
        4. Nicodemus thinks Jesus is speaking of physical things but Jesus is referring to spiritual things.
        5. 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. NKJV
        6. So although Jesus is speaking of a spiritual birth Nicodemus thinks He is referring to a physical birth.
      2. Notice Jesus speaking to the woman at the well in John 4
        1. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
        2. Jesus uses a physical thing that the woman is interested in order to get her to think about her spiritual needs.
        3. 11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
        4. 13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." NKJV
        5. Jesus is referring to spiritual water, not physical water as the woman thinks.
      3. Notice how Jesus speaks to the disciples as they return from the city. 32-34
        1. 33 "I have food to eat of which you do not know."
        2. 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?"
        3. They think Jesus is referring to physical food but Jesus is making a spiritual reference to the work He has to do.
        4. 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. NKJV
      4. After the feeding of the five thousand Jesus cautions them not to seek physical bread but spiritual bread. John 6:26-27
        1. 26 Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you" NKJV
        2. He tells them that He is the true bread come from heaven but they think He is speaking of physical bread.
        3. 34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
        4. John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. NKJV
        5. John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." NKJV
    2. So what is Jesus teaching here?
      1. It is obvious that in John 6:51 Jesus is not talking about the supper but rather His sacrifice for sin, His death on the cross.
      2. We appropriate His death for us by faith.
        1. John 6:29 "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
        2. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.
        3. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
        4. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
    3. Jesus is really speaking as to the degree of faith, commitment or trust that people must have in Jesus.
      1. They must make Him a part of their lives.
      2. They must live each day by His power and not their own.
      3. Notice what Jesus says in verse 57 I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me. NLT
    4. Jesus is not asking for a superficial commitment where people come close to fully trusting Him.
      1. That is why many of His followers forsake Him at this point.
      2. The cost is too high.
      3. Or Jesus is not who they wanted Him to be.
    5. The real answer is found in the first verse we read.
      1. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
      2. If you really believe.
      3. If you have committed your life to Jesus
      4. If you are totally relying on Him
      5. Then Jesus says you have eternal life right now.
      6. If you don't, you can today.
        This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com