Read John 6
There are a lot of red-letter words in this chapter. There are a lot of hard to understand statements in this part. We understand better now having received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, but imagine hearing these words of Jesus without the full context that we know.
Eat my flesh. Drink my blood. That’s a B-rated zombie movie in the making. Or do zombies eat brains? I don’t know that part. No quarantine can last long enough for me to watch that junk.
Still, these words were hard to understand.
It is here that we find the first of the I Am statements, I Am metaphors to be more precise for Jesus uses the words I Am more than 7 times. He begins with I am the bread of life.
The people who had been fed with five loaves and two fish wanted a miracle. If Jesus really was from God, they wanted a miracle. Well, ok, they wanted another miracle.
When he noted that the Manna from heaven that their ancestors received was from his Father in heaven and not from Moses, this got under their skin.
When he reminded the crowd that the people who ate the Manna eventually died, that got them wondering just who this guy was. Their answer was, of course, this is the carpenter’s kid, right?
If the teaching is getting too hard, what do you do? My counsel growing up would have been to study harder. The thinking of the crowd was to question the qualifications of the teacher. That one has made a comeback in our current time.
Just who is this guy to give us this crazy teaching?
The answer was and is, he is the one who brings eternal life. Those who ate the Manna died. Those who receive the Bread of Life will live and live eternally.
We should notice a parallel between the people here asking Jesus to “give us this bread” and the woman at the well asking Jesus to give her that water.
People then and now just want the quick fix. Give me this water so I won’t get thirsty. Give me this bread so that I will live.
We should see the Manna in the desert as a model or foreshadowing of the Christ, the true bread that gives life.
Jesus was sustained in the flesh by doing the will of his Father. People do not want to let go of their physical sustenance to receive eternal sustenance. It would take the body of Christ to be broken for us. It would take the blood of Christ to be poured out for us.
This was too much too soon for anyone to comprehend. Had they focused on these words instead of their own understanding, perhaps they would not have found the teaching quite so difficult.
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.
In our sinful human nature our own understanding makes us short-sighted and myopic. We don’t have eyes to see that life comes from Christ.
But if we will just believe upon the one whom God sent, that blindness will be lifted.
Most of those who will receive this message have been given eyes to see. Will we now seek the eternal sustenance that is Jesus or will we remain seeking only those things that gratify our bodies and carnal minds.
These were tough teachings two thousand years ago. Jesus had not yet gone to the cross. But on this side of the cross, we should understand better and respond to the love of God more faithfully.
I’m still going to put food on the table for my family but our sustenance is Jesus. He is the bread of life and life in him is good.