Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35 ESV)
In reading John 6 we see that the time of the Passover was at hand. Passover, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is celebrated each year by the Jews. The feast is held to commemorate Israel’s exit from Egypt and especially the night God protected them from the plague of the death angel. God commanded the Israelites to eat roasted lamb and unleavened bread on that night along with bitter herbs. It was not by coincidence that Jesus chose the time of this feast to proclaim that he is the Bread of Life.
As Jesus began his ministry John the Baptist declared him to be the Lamb of God. By declaring himself to be the bread, Jesus was revealing another aspect of his identity. He was in essence saying “I am the lamb and the bread.” He was declaring himself to be the Passover.
Part of the crowd whom Jesus fed followed him by boat to Capernaum. They asked of him a sign to prove that the Father had sent him. Then they grumbled because Jesus said, “I have come down from heaven.” Do you think they were oblivious to the fact that Jesus had fed over 5000 of them the day before with only five barley loaves and two fish?
In John 6:48-51 Jesus gave a clearer picture of what he meant by declaring to be the bread from heaven. He said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
John continues: The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:52-58 ESV)
Is Jesus speaking here of cannibalism? No. Jesus was speaking of offering his body to be crucified for the sins of the world. The bread is his flesh, his body. At his last Passover meal Jesus broke the bread, gave thanks and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews wrote that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10) Paul wrote, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. . .” (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV)
Years before Jesus came into the world Isaiah prophesied of him, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV) Peter reiterated that point when he wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)
Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrifice for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus, the Bread of Life has been broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:23). Our hunger for eternal life has been quenched. With Simon Peter we agree; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69 ESV)
That’s why we praise him!