“True Bread From Heaven”
THE day before had truly been eventful. Jesus miraculously fed thousands and then escaped the attempt of the people to make him king. That night he walked on the stormy Sea of Galilee; rescued Peter, who began to sink when he walked on the storm-tossed water; and calmed the waves to save his disciples from shipwreck.
Now the people whom Jesus had miraculously fed northeast of the Sea of Galilee find him near Capernaum and inquire: “When did you get here?” Rebuking them, Jesus says that they have come looking for him only because they expect to get another free meal. He urges them to work, not for food that perishes, but for food that remains for everlasting life. So the people inquire: “What shall we do to work the works of God?”
Jesus names but one work of the highest value. “This is the work of God,” he explains, “that you exercise faith in him whom that One sent forth.”
The people, however, do not exercise faith in Jesus, despite all the miracles he has performed. Unbelievably, even after all the marvelous things that he has done, they ask: “What, then, are you performing as a sign, in order for us to see it and believe you? What work are you doing? Our forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
In response to their request for a sign, Jesus makes clear the Source of miraculous provisions, saying: “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father does give you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Lord,” the people say, “always give us this bread.”
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus explains. “He that comes to me will not get hungry at all, and he that exercises faith in me will never get thirsty at all. But I have said to you, You have even seen me and yet do not believe. Everything the Father gives me will come to me, and the one that comes to me I will by no means drive away; because I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me. This is the will of him that sent me, that I should lose nothing out of all that he has given me but that I should resurrect it at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life.”
At this the Jews begin murmuring at Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They see in him nothing more than a son of human parents and so in the same manner as did the people of Nazareth, they object, saying: “Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it that now he says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
“Stop murmuring among yourselves,” Jesus responds. “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by Jehovah.’ Everyone that has heard from the Father and has learned comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except he who is from God; this one has seen the Father. Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life.”
Continuing, Jesus repeats: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.” Yes, by exercising faith in Jesus, the one sent forth by God, people can have everlasting life. No manna, or any other bread, can provide that!
The discussion regarding the bread from heaven apparently began shortly after the people found Jesus near Capernaum. But it continues, reaching a climax later while Jesus teaches in a synagogue in Capernaum. John 6:25-51, 59; Psalm 78:24; Isaiah 54:13; Matthew 13:55-57.
▪ What events preceded Jesus’ discussion regarding the bread from heaven?
▪ In view of what Jesus has just done, why is the request for a sign so inappropriate?
▪ Why do the Jews murmur at Jesus’ claim that he is the true bread from heaven?
▪ Where did the discussion about the bread from heaven take place?