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Bread from Heaven


Many churches take steps to make certain that visitors feel comfortable. The greeting at the door, the music during the service, and the illustrations used in the sermon are all especially designed to make people curious about faith feel at home, in the hope that they will consider the gospel.

Jesus’ interaction with the crowd that came seeking Him after the miraculous feeding of thousands of people took a radically different approach. First, Jesus rebuked the multitude for their motives in seeking Him out. When they demanded that He provide a miraculous sign to back up His claims, Jesus pushed back by saying that He was the bread from heaven (v. 48).

In one of the most staggering statements of His entire ministry Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (v. 51). These words were not intended to make those who heard it feel comfortable. If anything, they were designed to disturb.

When the crowd asked for clarification, Jesus did not say that He was trying to make a spiritual point by using a figure of speech. Instead He answered, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (vv. 53–54). These words were so shocking that even His disciples balked at them (v. 60).

Instead of marketing appeals, Jesus used inflammatory language. His aim was not to make people feel good about the experience but to awaken them to the truth.

Apply the Word

We do not have to be comfortable with this truth to benefit from it. Our only hope for life with God is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unless we are willing to take the offer of the living Bread—fully trusting that Jesus is who He said He was and we can find salvation only in Him—our spiritual hunger will never be satisfied.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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