"I am the Bread of Life."
What do we need in this life? (What is necessary, explain...)
We read in the Psalm about "The bread of angels...*"
Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. Psalm 78:23-25
God showed His love for them; even when they grumbled (sinned) He provided for them. (Explain - lack of trust, exodus...)
Just before our reading today, Jesus has fed the crowd out of His concern for them, and they follow Him. He has this teaching interaction with the crowd as He does many times. He relates a spiritual concept to an ordinary, earthly one to teach a lesson.
Jesus talks to them about the necessity of faith, of belief. They are unable to draw proper conclusions about what they experience, about what they see. Jesus teaches them, (and us), what is necessary for life. *We read this:
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. John 6:26-27
Jesus speaks of food that "endures to eternal life". This is food "that the Son of Man will give you."
The crowd has been after Jesus because of the bread, a temporary thing; Jesus offers an eternal thing, "food that endures to eternal life".
He tells them that He will give it to them.
They want to know what they have to do; Jesus tells them to believe in Him.
God's will is for us to look to Jesus and believe in Him. This belief, faith, brings us to eternal life.
We can have everything, but in the long run, the eternal run, if we don't have Him, we are left out. We need Jesus. *
Jesus explains more...
"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." John 6:44-51
Jesus is the unique one. He is the focus. He is the necessary one. Everything else is peripheral. Jesus tells them that the Father has to draw those who come to Him. They are there, the Father is drawing them. The words of Jesus are the words of the Father. Jesus is one with the Father. The words of Jesus are an invitation to them to come to Him.
These words are an invitation to us and to the world to come to Jesus. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus focuses the mind on what's important. *He says:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Jesus invites them to seek. Based on the evidence, they should. Some do. Some reject. We read: *
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. Psalm 78:32
The idea of eating human flesh is abhorrent to them, and rightly so. Yet, again, Jesus speaks to them in spiritual terms, they are fixated on the earthly, physical.
We have the advantage, we see these things with near perfect 20/20 hindsight. Yet we still can't get some of the fundamentals right.
We want to be involved in our salvation. We want to do things.
We want God to be our big vending machine. Put in some prayers, pull the handle and out comes whatever we want.
We expect God to meet our needs. He promises to do so, but He is the determiner as to what our needs are, not us.
We want to be in control. (It's the original sin - remember)...
The crowds were like this. They followed Jesus for some healing, maybe some entertainment, and a free meal. They wanted stuff and they attempted to manipulate Jesus to get what they wanted.
Jesus was, (is), prepared to give them, (us), what we need. Him. The idea of eating flesh is nasty. Cannibalism. *We read:
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" John 6:60
Peter has the answer for them and us:*
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:68-9
Peter probably didn't understand the theological implications of the Body and Blood of Christ. He wasn't aware of what this might mean in the near, (and far), future. It was enough for him that Jesus was who He was, and He said what He said. Peter knew that Jesus has the words of eternal life, and that's good enough.
This invitation is for us. To whom else shall we go?