Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35 (NET)
We have such an abundance of food in the United States that we may not be able to fully comprehend the significance of Jesus as the Bread of Life. I know that I have never been truly hungry in my life! Perhaps it will help if we think of bread as being the basic food of life. Without it we cannot live!
Read John 5:1-18 so that we don’t miss any of the signs that John recorded.
1. When did Jesus perform this sign? What was the sign and what was its significance in comparison with the others we have already seen Jesus do? Was there anything additional or different that sets it apart? How does this sign reveal Jesus’ divine power? (Chart) Write down any insights or questions you have as you read this passage.
Diamonds in the Word: Read John 5:19-47. Once you have completed your other questions, feel free to read in your commentaries on Jesus’ discourse here.
Read John 6:1-15.
John followed the account of the previous sign and the teaching that Jesus gave in light of it with another sign.
2. What was this sign and how do you understand its significance as to Jesus’ identity and power? Did it differ from the previous signs in any way? (Chart)
3. How would you have felt to be present when Jesus performed this sign? Consider the location and what had been going on that day, etc.
4. How did the people respond to this sign (6:14-15)? Compare their identification of Jesus with the question that the Jewish leadership asked John the Baptist in Jn. 1:21. (You also looked up Deut. 18:15-19 in Week 2 question #2.)
5. Sharing question: Even today people fail to grasp the greatness of Jesus. They think He is a good teacher or great leader, but they do not realize that He is the very Word of God, as we saw in John 1. How can you show them through your life (not words) that He is actually Lord and not simply a good man? How should you respond when you truly believe that?
6. Responding to God: Write a prayer or a poem extolling Jesus’ power, keeping in mind how mighty these signs really were.
Another sign is nestled between the feeding of the five thousand and the teaching that accompanied that sign. Read John 6:16-21.
7. As a good reporter, give us the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the story. Consider being creative and writing it out as a television reporter would. (Don’t forget your signs chart—I can probably quit reminding you about this but I am afraid you are like me and need itJ)
8. How did this sign differ from the previous signs? How did it reveal God’s presence in Jesus? How does it relate to the truths about Jesus in the Prologue (Jn. 1:1-14)?
Diamonds in the Word: Compare the other accounts of this sign in Mt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:10-17). If you have time, you may also want to read about the feeding of the 4,000 and how it differed in Mt. 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-9).
Read John 6:22-27.
9. What happened the next morning? What did the people really want (6:26-27)?
10. Sharing question: It’s easy to be guilty of seeking the gift and not the Giver of the gift. Sometimes we only recognize this in hindsight, after we become angry when God doesn’t give us what we desire. So often, my prayers are about what I want and not about the greatness of the One to whom I speak. My time with Him is all about me rather than being about His glory and His kingdom. Share with your group something you have sought from God in place of His presence and His love.
11. Responding to God: Draw some sort of pictorial representation of seeking a gift rather than the Giver. Draw yourself turning from that to God. You can draw stick figures! Then, pray that God will convict you when you seek His gifts over Him.
Review John 6:26-27 and continue reading through 6:51.
12. What did Jesus tell the people that they should seek before physical food (6:26-29)?
The feeding of the five thousand became an object lesson about the greatness of Jesus and the fact that He was bringing in something greater than the Jews had under Moses.
13. Read quickly the story of God’s feeding His people in the days of Moses in Ex. 16:1-31. Write down your thoughts and insights from this story.
14. Jesus taught the people that the true bread of life is greater than the manna they received under Moses. How is it greater (6:32-51)?
15. Write down everything that Jesus says is true of those who come to Him (6:35-51).
Diamonds in the Word: Read in Bible commentaries about Jesus’ teaching in John 6:35-51.
16. Sharing question: Have you ever experienced real hunger? Perhaps you have seen the effects of not eating on someone else, either from lack of food or from the body wasting away in sickness. Share whatever experience you have with your group. Even if you haven’t experienced this, think about how it helps you understand the snapshot of Jesus as the Bread of Life. What primary thing keeps you from fully depending on Jesus to meet all of your needs?
17. Responding to God: Spend time thanking God for the physical food that you receive. Thank Him for the way He designed the body to receive daily nourishment in order to live. Thank Him for using this snapshot for Jesus.
Review John 6:35, our memory verse for this week.
We want to look at this point at the “I Am” claims of Jesus. If we really want to understand the significance of not only His statement here but also the other I Am statements that we will study in the weeks to come, we need to go back to the Old Testament.
18. Read Exodus 3:13-14 and answer these questions:
a. Why did Moses ask for God’s name?
b. What was the name God used for Himself? Names in the Bible were significant because they revealed who the person was. Why might God have chosen this name? In other words, how does this name help us understand who God is?
19. The Hebrew word I AM in this passage is related to the word YHWH, the name of God usually pronounced Yahweh. (In the past the word Jehovah was used for this name, but present-day scholars discount that name as inaccurate.) In most Old Testament passages, the name YHWH is translated LORD in all caps.
Gary Burge says, “When this term (Heb. Yahweh) was translated into Greek, it became ego eimi (“I am”), and throughout John we will see Jesus’ absolute use of this phrase without a predicate to disclose more of his divine identity.”9 (The first example of this is in John 4:26 when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. His words there can be translated, “I am—speaks to you.”10)
Burge lists seven places in John where “Jesus provides a clear predicate noun to describe himself, and they take on features that sound like solemn pronouncements… In each of these sayings Jesus is taking a motif from Judaism (often in the context of a miracle or major festival discourse) and reinterpreting it for himself.”11 This saying in John 6:35 is the first of these, and obviously, the motif here is the miracle of the manna.
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the name of God in Ex. 3.
20. Write out an explanation in your own words as to what it means that Jesus is I Am (not the Bread of Life but simply the I Am). If you like, write it as a letter to answer a child’s questions about God.
21. Sharing question: How does it affect your relationship with Jesus to know that He is the same I Am who spoke to Moses, delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, and provided for them in the desert with manna to eat?
22. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem extolling God as the I Am.
Review John 6:32-51 and read John 6:52-58.
23. Jesus described belief in Him as eating His flesh and drinking His blood. How does the picture of food or the previous snapshot of Jesus as the Lamb of God (See Week Two Study) help us understand what He is teaching?
24. What promises do we have as believers in Jesus from His words in 6:47-58?
25. Sharing question: Which of those promises is most meaningful to you? Why?
Read John 6:59-71.
26. Compare the various responses to Jesus’ teaching about eating His flesh and drinking His blood (6:60-71).
27. Sharing question: How do you generally respond when you hear teaching that you don’t like or teaching that is hard to understand? Do you quit walking with Jesus or do you say, “To whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” What should we do when we are faced with hearing something we may have never heard before?
28. Responding to God: Talk to God about something in His word that you struggle with believing, understanding, or handing over to Him in trust.
As we think about Jesus as the Bread of Life, we appreciate the fact that the Bread was broken for us. Each time we participate in communion, we should remember that He is the Bread and that we live by His nourishment. Dianne shares the feelings that she has when she participates in this ancient rite of the church.
“For this is what the Lord himself said, and I pass it on to you just as I received it. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ Take and eat.”
“The Eucharist itself was instituted by Christ at the supper on Holy Thursday to perpetuate the remembrance (anamnesis) of His redemptive work and to establish a continuous intimate communion (koinonia) between Himself and those who believe in Him.” (The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)
The idea that I can participate in a remembrance of My Lord that countless millions have done before me is staggering to my expanding vision of the perseverance of the saints moving into eternity with Christ. When the bread is offered to me with the reminder that it symbolizes Christ’s body, broken for me I visualize the cross and the unique sacrifice of the God-Man, for the forgiveness of my sins. Encouraged by the comfort of forever forgiven, I am strengthened to live with the nourishment that His brokenness provides my daily life. No matter how I “feel,” when I partake of His “gifts” I affirm and confirm that I am His and He is mine, which is my remembrance of His sacrifice and our continuous intimacy as Savior and redeemed. One day we will eat and drink together, forever.