When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 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’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 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. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 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.”
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 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. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. – John 6:25-59
Jesus criticized the people who followed him only for the physical and temporal benefits and not for the satisfying of their spiritual hunger. Many people used religion to gain prestige, comfort or even political votes but many seekers were puzzled by what God wanted them to do. Jesus’ reply to them was brief. He simply wanted them to believe the one who God sent. He wanted them to accept who he claimed to be and to satisfy their spiritual hunger by having a relationship with God and so he called himself “the bread of life”.
The religious leaders grumbled because they could not accept Jesus’ claims. They saw him only as a carpenter from Nazareth. They refused to believe that Jesus was God’s divine Son. They didn’t like the message so they rejected the messenger.
We see here that God played an active role in the people that accepted Christ. They came to faith from the prompting of the Spirit and they said YES to the urging. No one could believe in Jesus without God’s help. Verse 47 says, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” Jesus used the word “believes” here to mean “continues to believe.” The people did not merely believe once but they had to keep on believing or trusting in Jesus daily.
How could Jesus give us his flesh as bread to eat? This was a shocking message-to eat flesh and drink blood sounded cannibalistic and drinking blood of any kind was forbidden by Jewish law. Jesus was not talking about drinking blood literally. To eat “living bread” and drink “the blood” meant to accept Jesus and become united with him.
Questions to ponder:
- In what way has Jesus satisfied your hunger and thirst for acceptance and meaning in life? In what ways do you still feel empty?
- How has the believer’s life turned out to be different from what you expected?
- What can you do today to rely on God, rather than on things or people to satisfy your needs?