Bread of Life

11th study in the series on the ‘Names of Christ’ adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 5 Oct 2007

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35; cf. vv. 48, 51).

We have been studying the names and titles of Christ. These names and titles occur all over the Scriptures. They appear in the historical records, in the psalms, in prophecy, and in the letters. They do not always appear distinctly as a name or title such as ‘Jesus’, ‘Immanuel’, ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ’.

Sometimes they appear in somewhat obscure prophetic references to Him such as ‘Seed of the Woman’, ‘Lion of Judah’, ‘Wonderful’, ‘Counsellor’ etc.

But how ever they are presented, each of these references to Christ tells us a different aspect of His person and work.

The name “Bread of Life” is no different. It is one of Christ’s seven ‘I am’ statements in the book of John.

The rest of His statements are:

· “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12);

· “I am the door of the sheep” (Jn 10:7);

· “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11);

· “I am the resurrection, and the life” (Jn 11:25);

· “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6);

· “I am the true vine” (Jn 15:1).

In this study, the Lord helping us, we want to consider the Lord’s self-designation as ‘Bread of Life’.

Let us begin by considering the context in which the Lord spoke of Himself as such.

1. Context

The Lord had just performed the miracle of feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. So amazed were those who saw the miracle that they exclaimed, verse 14—“This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” They were referring to the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 18; and they were right.

Sadly, however, they did not fully understand the role of the Prophet who had come. They wanted to make Him king by force. When the Lord perceived that, He quietly slipped away and went up the mountain by Himself (v. 15). He would rejoin the disciples on the Lake of Galilee later in the night.

But the people would not give up. They sought after Him and the following day, they found Him on the other side of the Lake.

Our Lord appears a little exasperated by their persistence and their lack of understanding. He admonished them:

26 …Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour [or work] not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

The people, it appears, did not take in what He was saying. They asked him: “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (v. 28).

At first sight this seems to be a very pious question, but when we examine it further, we realize that they are still thinking about their stomach. They are asking: ‘What work do we need to do so that we can have food that will keep our stomach full forever?’

The Lord told them plainly that they must believe in God. But again they did not take it in, for they were still thinking of their stomach. They asked him to show them a sign that they might believe!

This is amazing. They had just a day before witnessed the Lord feeding 5000 men beside women and children with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, and now they are asking for a sign!

They were not really interested in the sign or in faith, you see. They wanted another free meal. This is why they went on to suggest to the Lord what miracle He could perform as a sign:

“Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (v. 31).

Our Lord, no doubt, knew what was in their heart. But He took the opportunity to teach the crowd that peradventure some might be converted.

He reminded them that it is not Moses who gave them bread from heaven; and pointed out to them that the manna that God gave to the people in Moses’ days was but a type of the true bread from heaven.

“My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” He says. “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” He adds (v. 32-33).

Still the people did not understand what He was saying. They were still thinking of their stomach! They exclaimed: “Lord, evermore give us this bread” (v. 34).

Reminds us of the Samaritan woman, doesn’t it? She was thinking of the water that would quench her physical thirst forever. They were thinking of bread that could fill their stomach forever.

This was when our Lord made it clear:

35…I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

But what does the Lord mean? I believe that the Lord is saying that He alone can give life eternal, abundant and free.

As bread nourishes us and gives us physical life and strength; so Christ nourishes us and gives us spiritual life and strength.

This is what He is saying in verse 51 too—

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.

How do we partake of Christ? We eat bread physically, and it gives us physical life and strength. So we must, as it were, eat Christ spiritually that He might give us spiritual life and strength.

But what does it mean to eat Christ spiritually? It is to come to Him. It is to believe in Him, says our Lord.

What are we to believe about Him? We must believe all that is revealed of Him in His word—especially of His deity, His birth, His life, His suffering, His death and His resurrection on behalf of His church.

But to believe Him involves also keeping His commandments and His ordinances.

And there is one ordinance which I believe our Lord was alluding to in this passage as He teaches us that He is the bread of life. I am referring to the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord says in verses 53-56—

53 …Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

This statement of our Lord is extremely puzzling. It even led to some of His own disciples departing from Him. This is even after He explained: “The flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (v. 63).

Why is this doctrine so offensive? Well, it is offensive because the Lord seems to be suggesting that His disciple must literally eat Him!

But surely He is not saying that.

What then does He mean? Well, I believe that the Lord is alluding to the yet to be instituted Lord’s Supper.

You see, the Lord Jesus is our Savior in the whole man. He is not only the Saviour of our souls. He is the Savior of our body as well. We are after all, created with a body and soul. This is why every child of God must experience 2 resurrections.

The first is the resurrection of our souls. We were dead in sin and trespasses. We are made alive or quickened in our soul in the first resurrection known as regeneration.

The second resurrection is the resurrection of our bodies which will occur at the Last Day when Christ comes again. In that day all who are united to Christ will be raised with a glorious, incorruptible body.

What does it mean to be united to Christ? Well, it means to be represented by Him as the covenant head, and to believe in Him. But I believe there is more. I believe that as we are united to Adam by flesh, Christ would have us united to Him by our flesh.

This is where the Lord’s Supper comes in. In the Lord’s Supper, those who partake by faith partake of Christ’s body and blood crucified for them. Now, make no mistake: The bread and wine do not become the flesh and blood of Christ as Rome teaches. No, no, I believe they remain purely bread and wine. However, when we partake of the bread and wine at the Supper, we partake of the body and blood of Christ spiritually, for by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is presented to us in His body and soul.

Without the word and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s Supper is powerless. But together with the Word and the Spirit, Christ actually feeds us His body and soul in a way that will give us life abundant and free in the whole man.

Now, I am not sure if partaking the Lord’s Supper faithfully will mean better health. But one thing is sure, the apostle Paul teaches us that if we partake the Lord’s Supper unworthily we shall be guilty of His body and blood and we shall be judged with temporal ailments including death (1 Cor 11:29-30).

I trust that all these make biblical sense. Christ is the bread of life. He nourishes us body and soul when we receive Him by faith—not only in believing what He has done for us, but by partaking of His body and blood through the Lord’s Supper.

2. What shall we do with
this knowledge?

If Christ is the ‘Bread of Life’ how should respond to Him? Let me suggest 3 ways.

a. First of all, if Christ is the Bread of Life, it is essential for us to look to Him and to depend on Him daily. As we must eat every day to sustain our physical life, so we must look to Christ daily to sustain our spiritual life. We must not fall into complacency upon the doctrine ‘once saved always saved’. While this doctrine is true, such as cease to walk with Christ and to depend on Him actually prove themselves to have never been saved.

The name of Christ, ‘Bread of Life’ reminds us that we must depend on Christ daily if we are to enjoy the abundant life that He promised.

Such as depend of Christ and walk with Him daily will find joy, peace, love and hope through all the changing scenes of life until they reach their final destination in the house of the Lord.

b. Secondly, if Christ is the Bread of Life, and He is presented as the Bread of Life especially at the Lord’s Table, then let us take the Lord’s Supper seriously. Let us understand that the Lord’s Supper is not an optional part of our Christian life.

It is a means of grace, by which Christ feeds us in the total man. It has a tremendous contribution to our health as Christians. I can’t tell you exactly how this is the case. We need only to think of how physical health will affect our spiritual health. For example, we can hardly enjoy a good season of prayer or of hearing God’s Word unless we have enough sleep and are not physically over-exhausted.

The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance that in some ways touches both our body and soul. Through the Lord’s Supper we are strengthened to serve the Lord.

Let us therefore examine ourselves and prepare ourselves to come to the Table.

c. Thirdly, if Christ is the Bread of Life, and there is only one Bread of Life, let us strive to be ‘one bread.’

The apostle Paul says, 1Corinthians 10:17—

For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

McCheyne commenting about our partici-pation at the Table of the Lord in the light of this verse, expresses with his typical flourish:

It is a solemn declaration that you are one with all true Christians, one in peace, one in feeling, one in holiness; and that if one member suffer, you will suffer with it, or if one member be honored, you will rejoice with it. You thereby declare that you are branches of the true Vine, and are vitally united to all the branches, that you wish the same Holy Spirit to pervade every bosom. You declare that you are lamps of the same golden candlestick, and that you wish the same golden oil to keep you and them burning and shining as lights in a dark world.

Now, since this is our declaration and wish, let us pray and work toward it. That is, since Christ is the Bread of Life, and we are one bread in Him, let us pray for unity and work towards unity in all areas of our live together. Let us seek to cultivate oneness in the church that bears honest testimony to our spiritual life that we enjoy in Christ. As such let us by the Lord’s grace, seek to heal all the wounds that exist in the body by way of mutual confession, mutual forgiveness and mutual love. Let us do so that the name of Christ might be highly exalted.


Christ is the Bread of Life. He is our Bread of Life. By Him we are fed spiritually. By Him we have life everlasting, abundant and free. May the Lord help us that we may partake of this bread together in sincere love that is centred on Him. Amen.

—JJ Lim