Jesus commands their attention once again, simply by softly continuing to instruct them. He has no intention of explaining His words to them at this point; they would not understand if He did. But He must say what His Father has given Him to say, that those with believing and understanding hearts may listen. Once His time is complete, they, at least, will begin to understand. “I tell you, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man is life itself, and any who desire that life must come and eat and drink of it. Whoever eats of My flesh and drinks of My blood gains eternal life and will be raised up at the last day to Heaven. For My flesh and My blood contain real food. Whoever eats of My flesh and drinks of My blood lives in Me, and I live in him. My Father in Heaven and I are one, and He has sent Me down to you, that whoever eats of My flesh and drinks of My blood may live because of Me. I AM the true bread that comes down from Heaven, not the manna sent to your ancestors that sustained them for 40 years in the desert but did not bring them eternal life. To live forever, you must eat of this bread, the true bread of life.” And saying this, He turns away from the Capernaum synagogue and walks toward the house where He will spend the night, His somewhat subdued apostles following behind Him.
Now the Pharisees are truly alarmed. They visibly recoil at the words Jesus has just spoken, as if the words are flaming arrows shot towards the hearts of the Pharisees. This Man is not just speaking blasphemy against God, which in itself is grounds for having Him stoned to death. Now, He is advocating cannibalism! This is one of those practices of some of those uncivilized peoples that God in His Word calls detestable! How could anyone even consider doing such an abominable act as to eat of this Man’s very flesh? And now, it’s not just the Pharisees who step back from Jesus as His words. Many of those He has taught regularly, who have been His disciples, are dumbfounded. They are starting to question whether they have been right to trust Him. Has He led them astray with His miracles and talk of Heavenly things? Could He be an imposter after all? How could He be the Messiah, and yet speak of such vile behavior? They begin to argue amongst themselves, forgetting Jesus’ command for silence.
“I say again, I AM the bread of life. Even if it had been Moses who had given our ancestors the manna from Heaven, it was still not the bread of life. Our ancestors ate it, and what happened to them? They all died, and even after seeing miracle after miracle of God’s provision for them, they never believed, and so they died without receiving the gift of eternal life. But I AM the living bread that comes down from Heaven, and all those who eat of it will never die but live in Heaven eternally. In Me is contained Life itself, and whoever eats of My living bread will live forever. This living bread is My flesh, that I give freely for all the world, for any who would take of it and eat.”
“Silence!” He commands, and every creature present obeys. He is not angry, nor is His aim to be intimidating. He simply speaks the word, and all creation must obey. The Pharisees who have turned to make their indignant exit now seem to be frozen in place, unable to move. His audience regained, Jesus continues instructing the people. “My Father in Heaven who sent Me to you must first draw you to Me, and then you must come to Me of your own free will, believing that My Father has sent Me to you. Whoever comes to Me, comes because My Father draws him to Me, and I will never refuse Him. I will raise Him up to Heaven to live in eternity with Me on the last day. As Isaiah tells us, ‘All your children shall be taught by The Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.’ Every heart that hears the voice of My Father, heeds that voice, and learns from it willingly, is drawn to Me. Here in this world, you have teachers who you watch and listen to and learn from in this manner. But no one has seen God the Father except His Son, who He has sent down to you. And whoever is drawn to Me and comes, believing that I AM the Son of God, will be granted eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
John 6:43-47, Isaiah 54:13
Included in this gathering of people are members and representatives of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body from the Temple in Jerusalem. Instead of listening carefully to Jesus’ explanation, they begin speaking amongst themselves about His claim to be the Messiah, grumbling to each other about His audacity, His blasphemy, what an outrage the whole situation is becoming. Because of this, they hear nothing but what they want, and expect, to hear. They have researched this Jesus. They have sent spies to His hometown, Nazareth, to learn of His birth and His history. Everything they have found shows that Jesus was born in the normal fashion, of an earthly mother and father. His neighbors tell stories of His kindness towards everyone and His rather extraordinary patience, but nothing supernatural. How dare this ordinary, uneducated Man try to pass Himself off as the Messiah? The mere thought of it enrages these righteous, holy Pharisees. Telling people He has come down from Heaven! They know where He came from, the same place everybody else in this world comes from – earthly parents, and not even prominent, educated, religious earthly parents at that! They are about to turn and leave in disgust, wiping the dust off of their sandals as they go to show their indignation, but then Jesus speaks to them again, and they stop to listen in spite of their desire to get as far away from Him as possible.
“When you are hungry, you seek out food, prepare it, and eat it, to satisfy the needs of your body. It is the same with spiritual hunger, and I AM the spiritual food that you seek. I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me and believes in Me will never be spiritually hungry again, and will never be spiritually thirsty again. You come to Me after participating in and seeing miracles, and yet you still do not believe. But whoever truly seeks Me comes as a result of being sent by My Father, and any honest seeker I will receive with joy and love. I AM come from Heaven, Sent by My Father to do His will, not My own. His will is that I lose none of those He gives Me. His will is that all who see Me, His Son, and believe in Me, will be granted eternal life, and that I will raise them up to that eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven on the last day.” Jesus replies to them.
“You claim to be the Messiah. What sign will You give us to prove this?” the people demand of Jesus. “You multiplied earthly food and fed a few thousand of us in the desert yesterday. But Moses gave our people, numbering in the millions, bread that came down from Heaven, twice a day for 40 years! If You really are the Messiah, You must be able to do greater works than Moses.” Jesus answers them, “Moses did not provide the bread. My Father in Heaven did this. And, as I have told you, this was bread that did not last. Did not My Father tell the people not to gather more than they would eat for one meal, because if it was put away for another meal it would not last? But I AM the living bread that is Sent by My Father in Heaven. I AM the true bread from heaven that God sends down to the word to bring eternal life. Whoever eats of the living bread will not need to do so again.” “Please, Rabbi, give us this everlasting bread!” the people implore Him. Not understanding His words, the people believe that Jesus is telling them that He can give them a kind of bread they can eat once, and then never need to eat anything ever again. But while this would be a miraculous sign for them, they are once again missing Jesus’ point.
John 6:30-34; Exodus 16:4, 16, 19-21; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:24
“You were all willing yesterday to travel from your homes to Bethsaida, and then to wait all day in the sun for Me while I prayed on the mountain. You were willing to camp in that spot all night last night, and then to seek Me out this morning, and all for what? To receive something that will not last, something that will fill you for a few hours only. How much better would it be for you to seek Me out to receive what will last forever, what will bring you peace and joy and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven?” The people look confused. “How do we do this? What is the work of God?” they ask. The people are considering the Pharisees, and all the requirements they place upon themselves and all those who would be as holy as they. They think about the work of the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. They consider the commandments, the 10 given by God to Moses on the mountain, and the 613 that the Pharisees command to be kept. But Jesus replies, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the One whom He has Sent into the world to be the perfect sacrifice for all of your sins, the free gift given to grant you eternal life. There is nothing you must do, in fact, there is nothing you can do. Instead, you must trust and believe in Me, and in My Father who Sent Me.”
Instead of answering their spoken question, Jesus replies, “You have not come seeking Godly answers. You come because you ate the food that was given yesterday from Heaven, and you are hoping for more. You hope to persuade Me to be your king so that you may come together under Me to rid yourselves of the Romans. But you are missing the spiritual significance of all you have witnessed.” Jesus picks up 2 loaves of ceremonial bread used in the synagogue services. He holds up the first loaf and says, “This loaf of bread is the ‘perishing bread.’ This represents the kind of bread you ate yesterday in Bethsaida. It was given to you miraculously, from My Father in Heaven, but it does not last for eternity. As with all things of this world, it will decay and die.” He puts the first loaf down and holds up the second. “This loaf is the ‘living bread.’ This represents the Messiah, the One Sent by God to grant you eternal life. Whoever takes part in the life of the Messiah, whoever eats of the living bread, will not perish but will be given the free gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. I AM the One Sent, the living bread of the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead of spending all of your time and energy working to gain the perishing things of this world – food, clothing, shelter – do the better work of God. Use your time and energy working to gain eternal life, learning to trust in God and to do His will, and He will provide what you need.”
Meanwhile, back in Bethsaida, some of the people who are most zealous in their desire to make Jesus their king and overthrow Rome have camped in the area overnight, hoping for another opportunity. They go to the shore now, and see that the only boat taken is the one the apostles used to sail to Capernaum last night. There are many other boats there, mostly those that arrived this morning from Tiberius, but only one missing. They search the area, but they do not find Jesus. So they decide to go to Capernaum and seek information on Jesus’ whereabouts from His apostles. They are stunned when they arrive to see Jesus among them, coming out of the synagogue with another huge crowd of followers after the service. “How did You get here?” they ask. But Jesus knows their hearts and knows that this is not the question they are really asking.