I Am the Bread of Life

Yeshua offered people “living water” and “the bread of life,” but what does that mean in practical terms? A passage from Isaiah unlocks his cryptic language.

'Living water' flows freely from a Judean desert spring in Israel, near the Dead Sea. (Image @ Bigstock/kavram)

In the midst of the crowded synagogue in Capernaum, Yeshua compared Himself to the manna, the bread from heaven. He told the people, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven” (John 6:32).

This saying does not deny that the manna in the wilderness came from heaven or even that the manna came by the agency of Moses. The Greek syntax lays the emphasis on the “true” nature of the messianic bread from heaven. In other words, the manna that came in the days of Moses was, indeed, bread from heaven, but not “true bread out of heaven.” Unlike the manna that came through the ministry of Moses, the true bread out of heaven “gives life to the world” (John 6:33).

The Master offered the people in the Capernaum synagogue true bread from heaven. If they ate of it, they would never again hunger or thirst. The true bread from heaven gives life to the world. He made a similar offer to the Samaritan woman at the well. He offered her living water, saying, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). The Samaritan woman misunderstood. She thought Yeshua offered her a literal, magical water. She said, “Master, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw” (John 4:15). The people in the Capernaum synagogue also took the Master’s offer of heavenly bread literally. They said to Him, “Master, always give us this bread” (6:34). The Samaritan woman and the people in the Capernaum synagogue did not look beyond the material-physical world.

Yeshua replied, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).

He offered them imperishable food and water—eternal life. Like the host of a banquet, He invited the people to come, drink, and eat. The “living water” of John 4 and “bread of life” of John 6 allude to an important messianic passage from Isaiah:

Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live …. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

In Isaiah, the one who comes to the waters and the one who comes to buy imperishable food is the same as the one who listens carefully: “Listen carefully to Me … Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live …” This clarifies things. Coming to Yeshua and partaking of the bread of life certainly requires believing in the one God has sent (6:29, 36), but believing in Yeshua includes listening to Him, heeding Him, believing His words, and submitting to His authority.

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