True Bread from Heaven
“Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world’ ” (vv. 32–33).- John 6:22–59
In our study of Mark’s gospel thus far, we have seen how at many points during His earthly ministry, Jesus revealed His divine identity not by saying, “I am God incarnate,” but by revealing Himself implicitly. For example, He forgave sins (Mark 2:5), which is something only God can do, and He claimed the title “Lord of the Sabbath” for Himself (v. 28), a title that belongs properly to the Creator alone. But we also know of other occasions on which Jesus claimed deity for Himself explicitly or made explicit statements about the nature of His work. To help us better understand what such statements say about our Lord and Savior, we will now take a short break from our studies in Mark to consider many of these statements. Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Knowing Christ will be our guide.
Specifically, we will examine the “I am” sayings found throughout the gospel of John. At several points in John, Jesus utters a statement about Himself that He begins with “I am.” In these places, “I am” translates the Greek phrase egō eimi. This is a rare phrase in the New Testament, used mainly in John’s gospel. It places emphasis on the speaker, as the pronoun egō is not necessary to say “I am.” We could translate egō eimi as “I, I myself, am.” Notably, this is the same Greek phrase used in the Septuagint’s translation of Exodus 3:14, rendered in the ESV as “I AM WHO I AM.” By using egō eimi so often, Jesus was making a clear reference to His deity.
Today’s passage includes an “I am” saying that tells us more than just the fact that He is deity. The exodus from Egypt forms the background here. During the exodus, God gave manna, or bread, to feed the Israelites (Ex. 16). By this bread, our Creator sustained and nourished His people. Yet as Jesus tells us, this bread received under Moses’ leadership was not the true bread from heaven (John 6:32–33). The manna could not satisfy Israel’s hunger permanently, nor could it grant eternal life. Only Jesus can fill us so that we are never hungry again and so that we live forever (vv. 35, 40, 47, 54). He is the Bread of Life who grants and sustains eternal life. None who come to Him will ever be lost (vv. 37, 39, 44, 54). Jesus, the Bread of Life, surrendered His life so that we would be nourished unto eternal life by receiving Him in faith (vv. 40, 51).
The Lord’s Supper is a tangible reminder that Jesus is our life-giving bread from heaven. As we partake of the bread, we are reminded that just as we need physical bread to sustain our bodies, so we need Christ to sustain our souls. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper, let us remember that Jesus is the only food that can truly satisfy. Furthermore, may we be reminded that the way He nourishes us is by faith. To eat the Bread of Life unto eternal life is to believe in Him (John 6:40, 51).
Passages for Further Study