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I AM the Bread of Life

by David A. DePra
I am the Bread of Life. Your fathers did eat manna in the
wilderness, and are dead. This is the Bread which comes down
from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven. If any man
eat of this Bread, he shall live forever, and the bread that I will
give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, "How can
this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son
of Man, and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. Whoso eats
My flesh, and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him
up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is
drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells
in Me, and I in Him.
As the Living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he
that eats Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which
came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna,
and are dead. He that eats of this Bread shall live forever. (John
     Seven times in the gospel of John, Jesus makes an "I am"
statement. He refers to Himself by saying such things as: "I AM
the resurrection and the life." These "I am" statements tell us
much about the nature and character of Christ; His purpose and
His way of working with us. They are reminescent of the time
when God told Abraham His name. He said His name was, "I
AM." Among other things, this showed God to be the eternal, all
knowing, one and only God.
     In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus says, "I am the Bread of
Life." What does this mean for us today? What is Jesus saying
about His relationship to us through that statement?
The Living Bread From Heaven
     In the time of Jesus, bread was the staff of life. It symbolized
the source of life because it was the primary means by which
those people survived. So when Jesus said, "I am the Bread of
Life," the people understood the importance He was accruing to
Himself. He was saying, "I am your daily spiritual food. In fact, I
am the only means by which you can live forever."
     To the average Jew, this didn't make much sense. Afterall,
they were God's chosen people. Didn't their calling as such
already endow them with all they needed spiritually? Why did
they need a "bread of life?" They had Moses, Abraham, and the
law. Wasn't this enough?
     You'll notice in John 6 that the Jews keep referring to Moses
and the manna in the wilderness. They had a strong tradition
that it was throught the merits of Moses that God fed them with
manna. They had perpetuated this tradition into the idea that it
was their keeping of the law as given through Moses that now
kept them in line for eternal life. So when Jesus said, "Moses
didn't give your fathers the manna. God gave it to them," it didn't
jive with their beliefs. And when He told them the wilderness
manna did not impart eternal life to anyone, it was a blow to their
nationalistic ego. Above all, when He stood there and said, "I AM
the true Bread of Life," it shocked them. He was not only directly
contradicting their beliefs about how they could obtain eternal
life, but He was replacing their law-keeping and adherence to
tradition with HIMSELF.
     Jesus once said, "You search the scriptures because you
think that in them is eternal life. But you will not come to ME."
The Truth here is similar to the one Jesus is presenting in John.
All of our forms of religion and worship, no matter how Bible
based and otherwise profitable they may be, cannot replace HIM.
Jesus Christ is a real, living Person. He is, in fact, so real and
available to us, that He is able to picture Himself as common,
daily bread -- so simple a thing, and yet so vital.
Reality in Christ
     It can be a difficult realization for some people, but it is the
Truth: Christianity is not a religion. It is not a list of doctrines to
believe in. It is not even a religion which grew out of the inspired
Word of God. Christianity is a relationship with a Person. It is a
redemptive experience with God through Jesus Christ. It is the
result of what happens when God comes down and makes
Himself one with man.
     This is part of what Jesus was trying to tell us in John 6. He
was saying, "All of your religious exercises, no matter how good
they may be, cannot feed you. I am the Bread of Life. Come to
Me. Eat and drink my flesh and blood."
     Jesus wasn't condemning religious things. But the danger in
those things is that they can serve as a substitute for the real.
God wants us to push past everything which speaks of Christ,
and points to Christ, and reminds us of Christ, to Christ Himself.
He alone is the true Bread.
     If it were possible to trace the history of the Christian church
back to the beginning, we would find that the fundamental
reason it got off the track was that it substituted some form of
"Christian religion" for the Living Christ. This always results in
dead religion and ritual. The only solution is to return to Christ
Himself. For He says, "I am the Living Bread. I alone can feed
you. I alone am your Source of life."
Eating and Drinking
     As Jesus began to reveal to the crowds that He was the Bread
of life, they couldn't seem to rid themselves of the notion that He
was speaking about the physical. They took everything He said
literally. Despite the fact that Jesus told them, "The words which I
speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life." (Jn. 6:63), they
continued to interpret Him naturally. Even His own disciples
could not see that He was speaking to them spiritually. As a
result, they could not understand what He meant when He said
He was the Bread of Life. They had no clue as to what He meant
when He said they actually had to "eat" His flesh and "drink" His
     For us to understand what Jesus meant, we need only extract
Jesus' own explaination from the passage:
He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood,
dwells in Me, and I in him.
     When I eat or drink something, it becomes part of me. Only
that which is waste passes through me. But symbolically, there
would be no waste in eating and drinking the Son of God. All of
Him would become part of me. Thus, when Jesus talks of eating
and drinking His flesh and blood, He is talking about Himself
becoming ONE with us. He is describing a complete intergration
of His being with ours.
     So often we think of Jesus as being "separate" from us, sort of
like He is "way off in heaven." But while Jesus is a separate,
distinct personality and being, and we will always maintain our
individual identity as well, we must never let these facts distort
the reality that we are ONE with Jesus Christ. Indeed, we are so
much ONE with Him that Jesus is able to liken Himself as Bread
and wine which we are to eat and drink.
     Food, as stated, becomes part of us. But it also sustains us,
invading with nourishment every cell of our body. There is no
area of our physical body which is not affected by what we eat
and drink. We've all heard the expression, "You are what you
eat." It is true. Such is the oneness and the continual
co-existance we are to have with the Living Bread.
Identification and Communion
     It is not a coincidence that Jesus says, "Except you eat the
flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, you have no life in
you," and then later uses the same symbolism in instituting the
Lord's Supper. In fact, Paul says, "As often as you eat this Bread
and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death until He
comes." (I Cor 11:26) The relationship between Jesus as the
Bread of Life, and the Lord's Supper, is a direct one.
     Paul is actually showing us what eating and drinking the flesh
and Blood of Jesus means in a practical sense. He is showing
us that it means more than just an outward proclamation of the
fact Jesus died. Indeed, Paul is saying, "To proclaim the Lord's
death you must allow it to become YOUR death." Not just in
theory. And not merely in doctrinal or ritualistic form. But really.
In other words, REAL communioin means you proclaim the Lord's
death by experiencing His death in YOUR life. The actual
taking of the bread and wine is merely symbolic of that fact.
     So often we think of the death of Christ as a doctrine we must
believe in. But even though doctrine is important, and certainly
vital with regard to the death of Christ, doctrine can't save us. If I
believe every right doctrine there is, those doctrines, and my
belief in them, cannot substitute for experiencing the REALITY
behind them. Such is the case with the death of Christ. I can
proclaim by written or spoken doctrine the death of Christ. I can
even proclaim it by participating in a communion service. But
until His death actually begins to invade ME, and bury my old
man in Adam -- experientially -- I am not really proclaiming
anything. No matter how loud I shout the words.
     The Bible tells us that we are buried with Christ by baptism
into death. It says that we are planted into His death, that is,
"engrafted" into His death. (see Romans 6) It says the same
thing about His resurrection. Therefore, should we not expect
that the death which Jesus experienced would impact us in a
very REAL way? Should we not expect that His death would be
more than a doctrine to believe in, but instead, a death we must
also partake of by experience?
     Yes. In fact, the death of Jesus Christ is to invade every part
of us, just as eating bread invades every cell of our body. The
death of Christ has ALREADY put our old man to death. But now
this death is to invade our members, indeed, our entire being, so
that it might be worked out in practical experience. Only then His
resurrection be likewise made manifest in us.
     Doesn't it seem odd that Jesus, on the one hand, proclaims
Himself the Bread of Life which gives life to the world, yet on the
other hand, says that eating the Bread with represents His Body
is a proclamation of His death?
     Not if we understand that the only path to life which God
offers us is through death. If we "eat" Jesus Christ, the Bread of
Life, it will result in the death of everything we are in Adam. But it
will also result in the resurrection of the new man in Christ Jesus.
Oneness With Christ
     The Bible talks much about "Christ in you." But it talks just as
much about being "in Christ." Again, we see a oneness. We see
a complete identification and integration of the fundament of our
being with that of our Saviour.
     Notice the way in which the Bible speaks of our oneness with
Jesus Christ:

"We are flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones."

"For you are all one in Christ Jesus."
     The point is, we are part of Him. Not just in a poetic way or a
doctrinal way. But really. Our spiritual life processes are one
with Him. Indeed, we derive ours from His.
     This was made possible when God planted all of humankind
into Jesus Christ on the Cross. At that point, the perfect Son of
Man, the last Adam, became one with all of us -- the collective
first Adam. And if we "eat and drink" of Christ, continually partake
of Him as the Living Bread, then everything He is, and which He
accomplished, likewise impacts us. Not just in theory. Not just
doctrinally. But really. At work in us is a "death and resurrection"
process which is geared to conforming us to the death and
resurrection of Christ, and as a result, will conform us to His
     Thus we see the reality of Christianity. Christianity is not a list
of doctrines to believe in. It is a relationship with a Living
Saviour. It is not a "joining a church." It is a joining with Jesus
Christ, the True Bread which has come down from heaven. *

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