John 6:35 - 51
Vs 35: This is the first of Jesus’ “I am” statements in the Gospel of John. Jesus repeats this phrase “I am the bread of life” so it is important to note that if Jesus repeats himself then this it is important.
Bread of Life – This is symbolic language. Jesus is not saying he is literally bread and we are to physically eat his body when we partake. Since the people were most likely following him because they were seeking bread he uses this opportunity to show himself as a symbol of life giving bread that satisfies.
Bread –In ancient Israel bread was an oblong or round cake that was as thick as one’s thumb. It was broken and not cut. In the Temple there was showbread which was consecrated to God as an offering. This is significant to note because Jesus chose bread as a picture of who is and what would happen to him. Jesus is the consecrated one who is the source of life and broken for all. When one partakes or believes in Him, he will have eternal life. This verse could also be translated as “I am the bread that gives life or causes life.”
Those who eat the bread of life and drink the living water will never go hungry or will never thirst again. Everyone who believes in Him will be satisfied and He will be the source of spiritual nourishment.
Vs 36: Jesus has been very open with his miracles and claims. He has not hidden much from his observers. He made some bold claims of being the Son of God, equality with God the Father, and he has performed miracles to back up his claims. There is even a point after feeding the five thousand that people started talking about him being The Prophet Moses. However, having seen all they saw they still do not believe.
Vs 37: This is a picture of God’s sovereignty and grace in the salvation of individuals. According to Jesus, God has an undetermined number of people He has given to Jesus (I say undetermined because first, there is no number given and second, this number includes all who believe even up to today are included in this group of people) as a gift. There were many (and remain many to this day) who had and have not come to faith Jesus Christ. A little later in verse 44 it states that God has not drawn them to himself yet. When they did come to him, they were forever preserved or secured because Jesus will never cast them out. Jesus is talking about preservation of the body of Christ. He speaks of anyone coming to him will be secure. What does this mean for us today? If you are in Christ, you belong to Him, and He will not cast you out. Jesus will never let you go. Now, this truth does not give us license to sin because your actions and deeds do reflect your heart. Becoming a follower of Christ means you have been transformed, your heart has changed, and you now live your life solely for the glory of God.
Now the question may arise, “Who has God given to Jesus?” First, this is not for us to know. We have to assume in this world that every unbeliever is potentially one that God has given to Jesus, and it is our joy and privilege to introduce them to the Him who died and rescued them. Second, the answer is ultimately found in verse 44 (anyone who believes) and it has been and will continue to be a debate among believers and unbelievers as to who the “anyone’s” are. The questions then arise “Does God choose us or do we choose Him?” “Does God predestine some for heaven and some for hell?” I am not God so I can’t say with 100% certainty the process God uses in determining those who belong to Jesus God is sovereign and He will do as He pleases for His glory and His purposes. Thus, He is not obligated to give us the ins and outs of how he rules and reigns. Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me, I will never cast out.” Whoever covers a lot of people. This literally means all who come to Jesus will never be turned away or cast out. There will be nobody in heaven against their will and not a single person will not be in heaven because of any other reason than they rejected Jesus Christ.
Vs. 38, 39: “I have come down from heaven” Jesus states his place of origin. He doesn’t say I came from my mother’s womb, but he says he has come from heaven. He may have been born of a woman on this earth, but his eternal dwelling is heaven. He came down from heaven not because it was his will or desire, but he came to do the will of God. The will of God was to announce the Kingdom of God, show the way to the Kingdom and to start the process of restoration to all creation and to all who believe through his death and resurrection, preserve those God has given him and raise them up on the last day.
Vs 40: His will is also for everyone who believes (commits to, puts trust in, have a saving faith in) in Him will have eternal life. This eternal life begins now and continues in the future beyond death and will eventually take on the form of the resurrection.
Vs 41 - 42: When the Jews heard this, they grumbled among themselves. They took offense of Jesus saying he came from heaven. They knew who his physical parents were so there is no way he could be from heaven. There wasn’t anything special or unique about Joseph and Mary that would make him a heavenly being. It’s odd that they weren’t upset with his claims of being a life giver but were upset about his claims of coming from heaven.
Vs 43 - 44: Jesus tells the Jews not to grumble. Verse 43 is key, and it is very important for us to know and believe. No one comes to Jesus unless God draws him (through the Holy Spirit). The Greek word for draw means to pull or drag, requiring force because of inertia. In some translations it is can be used as drawing as that of a magnet. In one regard it sounds violent especially when you hear words like drag or force. But our human nature (because of sin) resists God’s drawing because we do not want to change or be transformed. Even though God may draw us to him as a parent drags a child back when the child wanders into a busy street, highway, or parking lot. From an onlooker’s perspective the parent may look violent and unloving, but the parent is showing the greatest form of love. The child’s will desires to be free and run without restraint, but the parent sees the danger the child faces and will do whatever he needs to ensure the child’s safety. The child can resist but the parent will gather the child to himself and keep the child from harm. This is what is implied when God draws people to himself. Maybe you have experienced this in your life where God was working but you continually resisted his grace because sin had such a strong hold on us. Moreover, God is more powerful or compelling that our attraction to sin.
Not even one of us follows Jesus because we thought it would be nice to be a Christian. We belong to Jesus because through God’s great love and grace He has drawn us to himself and He calls us from our sinful ways and through His Spirit He transforms our hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. God drags us out of our sins and brings us to himself.
A great biblical example of this is found in the account of Jonah. Jonah resisted God yet God used extreme measures (even forceful) to get Jonah to do His will.
Vs45 – 48: Jesus re-iterates that he is the bread of life.
Vs 49: Jesus shows how he differs from the Manna God provided to Israelites in the desert. Both the manna and the bread of life are from heaven yet one is eternal and life giving and the other is perishable and temporary. The manna sustained the Israelites in the desert, but it did not give them life. It took care of the physical needs of them. The bread of life is eternal and life giving and anyone who eats (figuratively) of this bread shall never hunger again (spiritually).
Ultimately in this passage we have looked at today we see several truths.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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