John 6:51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
The Bread of Life
Why were there so many people following Jesus everywhere? In John 6 we discover the reason. The day after the miraculous feeding of 5000 men (at least 20,000 counting women and children) this large crowd was looking for Jesus but could not find Him. They were puzzled because they knew He had not gotten into the boat with His disciples the night before. They were not aware that He had walked on the water to His disciples in the middle of the night and got into their boat. And so everyone got into boats and crossed the Sea of Galilee in search for Him. When they found Him, they were surprised and asked Him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus immediately perceives their motives for following Him, “You want to be with Me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given Me the seal of his approval" (John 6:25b-27, NLT).
This event leads into Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life, where He explains to them that the food which nourishes their bodies can never satisfy their souls. Tragically, their chief reason for following Him was to have their physical needs met. For them, it would mean never having to worry about where their next meal would come from. They could just live off Him!
However, they completely missed the point of the miracle, which was intended to show them who He is, the One who could give them eternal life. That was the whole purpose of His mission. That is why He calls Himself, “The Bread of Life.” They were only thinking on the human-fleshly level, but He was referring to a deeper one—the spiritual level. That is also why they were clueless when He spoke to them, not in literal terms, but in figurative terms. It wasn’t as if He was advocating some form of cannibalism when He made the declaration that He was the living bread (verse cited at the top). But that is exactly how they took it, “. . . the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ (John 6:52, NLT) .What He meant was that they needed to have His very life flow into theirs so that they might live spiritually and eternally, in contrast to the ancient Israelites who ate the manna from heaven but died. Thus, to “eat” of the Son of Man meant to receive Him, to participate in His life, to welcome Him and trust Him fully and completely.
Unfortunately, the people in His day were scandalized by this language. And so are people today. Not only so, but too many people think that “believing in Jesus” is only a matter of accepting a few facts about Him, and that’s it. But the language of John 6 indicates that “believing” means much more than that. It incorporates a living and vibrant relationship with Him every day, and all day!
So why do we follow Him (assuming we are)? We had better be certain we are doing so for the right reasons. If we have any concern at all for our immortal souls, we had better be sure we have a real relationship with Him!