The Seven “I Am” Statements in the Gospel of John: “I Am the Bread of Life.”

Chapter six of John’s gospel opens in the spring, at the time of Passover. A large crowd is following Jesus because they had witnessed him working miracles of healing. Looking out over the multitude, Jesus asked his disciple Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (v. 5). This begins the story where Jesus fed five thousand men, along with women and children, by miraculously multiplying five loaves of barley bread and two fish.
After the people had eaten their fill, John reported that they were about to take Jesus by force and make him king, and Jesus, perceiving this, withdrew to the mountain by himself (vv. 15-16). When evening came, the disciples got into a boat, intending to row across the sea of Galilee to Capernaum where they had been staying, when a storm came up. From the mountaintop, in the dark, Jesus looked out over the sea and saw the little ship struggling in the wind and waves. He set out to rescue them, walking across the water. As he neared the boat the disciples were terrified, believing they were seeing an apparition. Jesus said, “It is I, do not be afraid,” and as he entered the boat, they immediately found themselves on the other side (vv. 20-21).
The next morning, the people whom Jesus had miraculously fed the day before came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. “When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves’” (vv. 25-26).

Let’s stop right here and take note that these folks did not make the effort to cross the sea of Galilee so that they could follow Jesus, be in his presence, or hear him speak. He had fed them yesterday, and they wanted to be fed again. Even though they tried to butter him up by calling him Rabbi (scholar or teacher), Jesus knew what they were up to. But he did not hold it against them. Rather, he used their craving for a good breakfast as a teaching moment, saying, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” (v. 27).
Thinking that maybe they could nudge Jesus in the direction of pulling more bread and fish out of the storehouses of heaven, they asked, “…’What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’  So they said to him, ‘Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (vv. 28-31).
They said, in other words, “If you are who you say you are, show us a sign by giving us bread from heaven like you did yesterday.” However, they were not quite as greedy as they seemed to be. When they reminded Jesus of the manna with which God fed Israel in the wilderness (See Exodus 16), the Jews were acknowledging that when Moses led their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt, God rained down manna from heaven for them every day. In fact, God ordered the ancient Israelites not to store manna overnight but depend on him to produce it every morning. They were not actually insulting Jesus here. They were asking him to give them the same sign that Moses did by giving them bread from heaven on a day-to-day basis.

The day before, after Jesus had fed them, the multitude had said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (v. 14b). At first, they came to Jesus because they had witnessed miracles of healing. After taking part in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, they wondered whether he could be the prophesied Messiah. The next day they came to him again seeking not only breakfast, but a sign. The people were asking for proof.
Listen to what Paul wrote about Jesus being greater than Moses in his letter to the Hebrews, “Therefore, holy brothers [and sisters], you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Hebrews 3:1-6). 

Moses was a faithful servant, but Jesus is the Son of God. Moses represented the Law and the Old Covenant. Jesus embodies Grace and the New Covenant. Therefore, the bread that Jesus gives is better than the bread of Moses. Jesus responded to the crowd, “…’Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’” (vv. 32-35).
The people were asking for the sign of Moses to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. But Jesus told them that he was greater than Moses – that the Son is greater than the servant. The manna that God provided Israel in the wilderness fed them every day, but it was not meant to be eternal. It was a “type” of the Bread of Life that is Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes [in me] has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (vv. 47-51).
Jesus went on to say that “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me” (vv. 56-57).

The people could not understand what Jesus was saying. He had given them bread yesterday, and they ate it. What kind of bread was Jesus talking about today? “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him’” (vv. 52-56).
As John begins chapter 13 of his gospel, we again find Jesus at Passover. This time he was not being pressed by a curious crowd but was gathered with his inner circle in the upper room in Jerusalem: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (v. 1). In the story of the Last Supper in the gospel of John, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, but the gospel of Matthew relates how Jesus blessed the bread and the wine: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom’” (26:26-29).
Meanwhile, Jesus knew that he would soon drink from yet another cup, in the Garden of Gethsemane: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).
John 1:17 states that, “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Although Jesus was without sin, to fulfill the requirements of the Law, he drank the full cup of God’s wrath as our substitute. Therefore, by the Grace of God we can drink of his blood and eat of his flesh and live forever. Jesus did not come to give us bread that would perish. He came because he is the Bread of Life.




All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation.

How to Hear from God – Part Three: The Word of God Speaks.

What does it mean that every part of Scripture is God-breathed? The English Standard Version translation says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Greek word theopneustos means ‘inspired by God’. It comes from the root word pneo, which means ‘to breathe,’ combined with the word Theo, which means ‘God.’ The English verb to inspire means ‘to fill someone with the urge to do something creative’, and it also means ‘to breathe in’. Therefore, the word of God is full of the divine breath of God and is intended to inspire us – to stir up the creative, generative impulse in us.  As Paul wrote, “To equip us for every good work.”
The first chapter of Genesis tells us that God spoke creation into existence. Afterward Genesis 2:7 relates that “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” Job 33:4 states that, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The breath of God is not ordinary breath. The Hebrew for the Spirit of God in Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life,” is ruah el, which means ‘the Spirit of God’ or ‘the breath of power and might.’ In other words, the Spirit of God is the Breath of the Almighty.
Now that we see this, we can understand that when Paul wrote to Timothy that all scripture is breathed out by God, he was indicating that the scripture is ‘brought to life’ through the Holy Spirit. In fact, we can see in the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 42:5, that life, spirit, and breath go together: “Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…”
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “For we know, brothers [and sisters] loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a). When we read the Word of God, we have the opportunity for an encounter with the Holy Spirit.
We do not have to wonder whether God is willing to speak to us. As Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” It is God’s will that we be taught by his Holy Spirit, and it is through reading the Word of God that we can partake of intimate relationship with him. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, his words were inspired through the Holy Spirit. It is that same Spirit who teaches us through God’s Word today.
As Peter wrote, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Have you ever heard it said that the Bible is different than any other book because when we read the Bible, the Bible is reading us? That is because through the Word of God the Holy Spirit plays many roles in our sanctification process. Isaiah 11:2 describes him as the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. It is these attributes of the Holy Spirit applied to our hearts and minds as we read our Bibles. And Job 32:8 explains “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.”
Therefore, Steps Six and Seven in how to hear from God are: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
For Step Six, please pick up your Bible and then take a moment and “Be Still.” Ask God to fill you with the inspiration of his Holy Spirit as you read. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as Jesus promised he would in John 14:26. Then take a few deep breaths, quiet your heart and mind, and listen for the still, small voice of the Spirit of God welling up from your spirit as he guides you into all truth.

Step Seven is to “know that I am God.” This step illustrates why it is important to take our time as we read the scriptures. Do not be in a hurry! While it is perfectly wonderful to read the Bible straight through from Genesis to Maps, remember that the Word of God is the Bread of Life, and whenever we open our Bibles, God invites us to a feast! In the same way that our earthly bodies must partake of food every day to stay strong and healthy, our spirits require Daily Bread from God’s table.
If you had been in attendance at the Last Supper, would you have rushed through the meal? Certainly not! Jesus wants us to enjoy the Bread of Life and the Wine of Salvation with him today, and the Holy Spirit wants to linger with us at our Father’s table so he can teach us everything we need to know as the Body of Christ. Let the presence of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures nourish your spirit.
In fact, the nourishment that we receive from the Word of God is so powerful, that Jesus used this phrase to rebuke the enemy when he endured temptation in the wilderness: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Paul understood this when he wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit of Truth speaks to God’s people. Welcome to the feast!



All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation unless otherwise noted.