Lord, You said that You are that bread of life. We believe this and desire to eat the bread.
Read John 6:41–59
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell 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 them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface” (1 Cor. 2:7, The Message).
Earlier I commented that John’s Gospel slows down the action to take us into deep places. This is one of the deepest passages! It’s not surprising that Jesus’ immediate hearers find it difficult.
How can Joseph’s son be “the bread that came down from heaven” (41)?
How can Jesus claim that God so closely works with him in exclusive
ways? How can he so confidently claim that his bread (unlike manna) avails
them for this life and also after death? No wonder tension ratchets up.
From our perspective here on the other side of the cross, we can more easily
understand why Jesus says “this bread is my flesh” (51). When liturgical
congregations practice the Lord’s Supper, they speak about receiving his
body and blood, but the radical words still shock. Jesus himself, all of him, will purchase life through his death on the cross. Flesh and blood are to be sacrificed. Belief in him centers upon this total life-giving, self-giving act, because that’s how sin and death are overcome.
Jesus declares that salvation depends on believing him to be the Son of God
who gives himself—flesh and blood—to redeem the world. All throughout
this chapter he has contrasted physical bread with the spiritual reality of
himself as the Living Bread. Although the Lord’s Supper is not identified as
the life-changing event, the language resonates deeply with liturgical
practice. It inspires reflection on the gravity of sharing in the Lord’s Supper. Taking bread and wine, congregants reflect back on the cost of our
redemption, look around now with wonder at the community he is bonding us with by his blood, and look ahead with conviction that he will come again.
“Perhaps we are never more truly human than at the Lord’s Table when Christ draws us into his life of communion” (James B. Torrance, 1923–2003).
Lord, thank You for including me in the company of those whom You have drawn to Yourself (44). I recognize that Your grace is what brought me to You.