In John 6:35, Jesus makes the first of His seven “I Am” statements, saying, “I Am the Bread of Life.” Earlier in the chapter (verses 1-15), we read that Jesus was being followed by a large crowd because of the miracles He was performing in healing the sick. Seeing the crowd coming, and with Passover approaching, Jesus asked His disciple Philip where they could buy bread to feed the crowd. Verse 6 says that He asked this to test Philip because Jesus already knew what He was going to do. We need to remember God always has a plan for every situation, and His plan is always perfect.
Philip told Jesus there was no way they could afford to feed so many people. Another disciple, Andrew, sarcastically said there was a boy in the crowd who had five barley loaves and two fishes, but what would that do?
Jesus told His disciples to have the crowd sit down. Then He took the five loaves and two fishes, gave thanks for them, and began to distribute them to those who were seated. When the people had eaten as much as they could, Jesus told His disciples to gather up the leftover fragments so nothing would be wasted. The leftovers filled up twelve baskets, and thus we see the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 men with the five loaves and two fishes. This shows us we should never underestimate the power of God and His ability to meet our needs.
The crowd realized that Jesus was the promised Messiah and wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king. Since this was not according to God’s timing or plan, Jesus withdrew to the mountain by Himself to spend time with His Father. Meanwhile, the disciples got in a boat and began to sail across the sea to Capernaum. They ran into a rough wind and saw Jesus coming to them walking on the water. The disciples were glad to have Him join them in the boat and immediately they were at the shore (verses 16-21).
That is the background leading up to Jesus declaring, “I Am the Bread of Life.” The crowd followed to Capernaum seeking Jesus. Jesus told them that He knew why they were following Him because He had fed them with five loaves and two fishes, and they were filled. Jesus began to teach them to work for the eternal things of God, not for the food which perishes. The crowd asked what they needed to do to be doing the work of God. Jesus responded that the work of God was to believe in Him whom God had sent, meaning Himself.
The crowd asked Jesus for a sign, saying that the proof Moses had been sent from God as he gave their fathers manna from Heaven in the wilderness. Jesus pointed out that it was God who gave the manna, not Moses, and God was now giving them the true bread from Heaven which gives life to the world. Excitedly the crowd said,“Sir, give us this bread always.” That is when Jesus said, “I Am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
The manna from Heaven is an Old Testament picture of Jesus as the Bread of Life:
- The manna was small (Exodus 16:14); Jesus came as a small baby.
- The manna was round (Exodus 16:14) – a symbol of eternity; Jesus is the eternal Son of God.
- That manna was white (Exodus 16:31) – a symbol of purity; Jesus lived a sinless life on Earth and is the holy Son of God.
- The manna satisfied the people for 40 years in the wilderness; Jesus satisfies for all eternity.
- When the people saw the manna in the morning, they saw the glory of the Lord (Exodus 16:7); Jesus said, “When you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). We see the glory of the Lord that resurrection morning when Jesus left the tomb alive.
The manna is an Old Testament picture of how Jesus came to Earth:
- The manna came down from Heaven (Exodus 16:4); so also did Jesus.
- The manna came at night (Exodus 16:12); Jesus was born at night.
- The manna came down in the wilderness (Exodus 16:14); Jesus came to a world that was a wilderness of sin.
- The manna came to a rebellious people (Exodus 16:1-3); so also did Jesus.
The manna is an Old Testament picture of what we must do with Jesus:
- The people’s physical hunger could only be satisfied by the manna; spiritual hunger can only be satisfied by Jesus.
- The people had to stoop down to pick up the manna; we must humble ourselves and come to Jesus.
- The people had to take the manna for themselves and eat it; Jesus must be received inwardly.
- The manna had to be taken early in the day; we must accept Christ now.
- The people had to continue to feed on the manna each day for physical health; we need to feed on the Word of God (Jesus) to grow spiritually.
Isaiah 55:2 tells us “to eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” There is nothing that tastes better or is richer than “The Bread of Life,” Jesus Christ.