[9]     Signs and Discourses 6: the Bread of Life (6:22-71)

Explanation

[C10]  6:22-71........... FOURTH Discourse - the bread of life

Eating Christ’s flesh and drinking the blood point to that central saving act. It is possible that the discourse took place in more than one occasion with the concluding section in the synagogue.

6:26     Jesus totally ignored the question of the multitude. He started with “I tell you the truth.” (4 times in this discourse, v.26, 32, 47, 53). Jesus wanted to emphasize what He said here.

6:27     If people seek this food, then the Son of Man will give them eternal life.

6:28     The phrase “the works of God” meaning “godly works” and “works pleasing to God.”

6:29     Jesus replaces their “works of God” with the singular “work of God.” Only one thing is needed, faith. The “work of God” means that which God requires of us.

6:30     Jews expected that, when the Messiah came, he would renew the miracle of the manna.

6:31     They observed miracles but they were not satisfied. So they dared to impose on God the sign they must have before they would believe, citing the manna in the wilderness. The manna accredited Moses and they wanted to same accreditation for Jesus.

6:32     Jesus said that first of all the gift of manna was not Moses’ gift. It came from God. Second, it was not the true “bread from heaven” but an earthly, material type of the bread. There is a contrast between “has given” and “gives”; the gift (the true bread) Jesus brings is ongoing.

6:33     While Jesus said “He who” but the hearers likely understood as “that which”. The bread of God gives life. The present tense denotes continuing action.

“The world” denotes its scope, showing God’s concern for the whole human race.

6:34     The people asked Jesus to provide the bread; but the request was in materialistic terms.

6:35     When God’s speech “I am” in the OT was translated into Greek, the translators often used the emphatic pronoun to emphasize divine speech. Jesus used this form to show His divinity. This is the first of 7 such emphatic statements: bread of life (6:35, 48); light of the world (8:12, 9:5); door of the sheep (10:7, 9); good shepherd (10:11, 14); resurrection and the life (11:25); the way, the truth, and the life (14:6); true vine (15:1,5)

Jesus Himself is the food, the sustains spiritual life. Both words for “never” are emphatic (“shall never never thirst”). There is no possibility for unsatisfied spiritual hunger and thirst after receiving Christ.

6:38     The thought of His coming down from heaven is repeated seven times in this chapter.

The proposition is emphasized by both its negative and positive forms (also in v.39).

6:39     The eternal life that Jesus brings is no temporary thing. It is ultimate and final.

6:41     The scene now shifted to the synagogue (v.59). The leading Jews were angry and in opposition.

The tenses used in Jesus’ descent differ in different passages. The aorist tense (3:13; 6:41, 51, 58) points to the decisive action of the incarnation; the present (6:33, 50) to Jesus’ as the One from heaven; the perfect (6:38, 42) to the continuing result of the past act of incarnation.

6:42     The Jews tried to contradict Jesus’ statement: because Jesus was lowly, and because He was well known to them, therefore He could not have been from heaven.

6:45     Jesus quotes from Isa 54:13 that God will teach His people within their hearts. All those who are taught this way, who hear God, and learn what they hear, do come to Jesus.

6:46     As in 1:18, no human has the full vision of God, no one apart from the Son.

6:50     The bread that Jesus offers is not of heavenly origin. And when anyone takes it (“eat” is in aorist tense, of the once-for-all action of receiving Christ), he will not have spiritual death.

6:51     The future “I will give” would be made on Calvary.

6:52     Some were strongly for Jesus resulting sharp arguments but they must have been outnumbered.

6:53     Jesus spoke explicitly of eating His flesh, and He added the drinking of His blood. This idea would be especially abhorrent to Jews because they were forbidden to partake blood (Gen 9:4-5; Lev 17:11, 14; Dt 12:23) as blood and life are very closely associated in the OT.

Both “eat” and “drink” are aorists, denoting not a repeated eating and drinking (such as sacrament). Westcott says: “To ‘eat’ and  and to ‘drink’ is to take to oneself by a voluntary act that which is external to onself, and then to assimulate it and make it part of oneself...this spiritual eating and drinking brings the object of faith into the believer.” It is also an allusion to the atoning death as blood points to violent death.

6:54     “Flesh” is not commonly used with reference to the sacrament. In every other NT passage referring to it the word is “body”. The tense for “eats” is different here, meaning a continuing appropriation. The many references to the resurrection of the believer show an emphasis.

6:56     The word “remains” (continuous) points to abiding, a permanent fellowship with the Lord.

6:58     In contrast with “our forefathers” (plural) is “he” (singular); faith must be personal.

6:60     “Hard” means not so much that the saying is hard to understand as that it is hard to accept. It is no longer possible to follow Him unreflectively and without committing oneself.

6:62     The sentence is unfinished. The meaning might be “If, then, you see the Son of man ascending to where he was before (implying Christ’s preexistence), will you not be convinced?”

6:63     There is a contrast between “the Spirit” (Holy Spirit) who “gives life” and “the flesh” that “counts for nothing” (here it means “cannot understand Jesus’ teaching”).

6:65     Those who come to Christ are by the Father’s grace. Some think that this is predestination.

6:66     Some followers were interested in a messianic kingdom. Instead they found themselves invited to believe, to receive Christ, to eat His flesh and drink his blood, to enter into eternal life. Because their expectation was different, they left.

6:68     Peter became the spokesman for the Twelve in a magnificent declaration of allegiance and acceptance. He correctly understood Jesus’ words about eternal life. The verbs “believe and know” (perfect tense) meaning: “We have come to a place of faith and continue there. We have entered into knowledge and retain it.”

6:70     Judas was “a devil”, meaning that in the spirit of Satan he would oppose what Jesus stood for.

6:71     “Iscariot” is a place name, probably referring to a place (Kerioth) not in Galilee. If so, Judas was the only one of the Twelve who was not a Galilean.

Application

§         For non-believers, Jesus’ words are difficult (v.60). Not only are they difficult to understand but also difficult to accept as they compel personal commitment.

§         For Christians, we have to renew our commitment to follow Jesus, just as Peter did (v.68).

Hymn

Hymns of Life no.471 “O Jesus, I have promised”

O Jesus, I have promised

To serve Thee to the end;

Be Thou forever near me,

My Master and my Friend;

I shall not fear the battle

If Thou art by my side,

Nor wonder from the pathway

If Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me feel Thee near me!

The world is ever near;

I see the sights that dazzle,

The tempting sounds I hear;

My foes are ever near me,

Around me and within;

But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,

And shield my soul from sin.