The Bread controversy

Bread has never bred such controversy as Jesus makes some bold and staggeringly outrageous claims in an impromptu discourse he has with some men who sought Him – but for all the wrong reasons. After a frank and direct conversation about their motives for seeking Him, The Lord gets to the heart of the matter claiming to be the bread of life that came down from heaven to end every hunger and thirst of the human soul. This was a preposterous proposition considering he was close to home in Capernaum, and they would have known His family and ancestry quite well. Here are the verses in which He repeatedly makes this claim –

John 6:35
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.

John 6:48
I am the bread of life.

John 6:51
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.”

In one sweeping statement (John 6:35) Jesus puts an end to all human hunger and thirst for purpose, meaning and satisfaction in life. By claiming to be the bread of life that came down from heaven (John 6:51), The Lord Jesus summarily ends every hunger and thirst of the human soul. Not only that. He goes on further to expand on His claims by saying that the “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” For these people this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They could not take it any longer.

These were out-of-this-world claims that Jesus was making and ones that these people were neither prepared nor bargained for when they initially went searching for Him. This stuff was way too heavy for them and seemed to just go over their heads. All they wanted and sought was really food security. Nothing more. That seemed to be the reason why they sought Jesus in the first place as He had miraculously multiplied the five loaves and two fish to feed no less than 5000 people.

The Father’s role in coming to faith in Christ.

In the discourse that followed, Jesus repeatedly put to them God the Father’s role in coming to faith in Him. Coming to faith in Him and receiving His life was not just a matter of exercising one’s will but one that required the involvement of God the Father as a matter of absolute necessity.

John 6:36 -37
But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

The Lord Jesus seemed to imply that their lack of faith in Him was linked to them not being given to Him by the Father as He would wholeheartedly embrace – and, as we shall see later, to the bitter end –  all those the Father gave Him. The clear implication is that it is not possible to come to faith in Christ without the initiating work of God the Father. In the verses that follow, The Lord reiterates and emphasizes this point from different directions freely and openly admitting that The Father is key in drawing men to Him.

John 6:39
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

John 6:44
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Jesus’ words could not be any clearer and His repeated emphasis any stronger – men are not drawn to Christ in and of themselves but by the Father in Heaven.

His repetition of this truth regarding the Father’s role in drawing people to Him indicate how essential it is and what was lacking in those who found it difficult to trust in Him for eternal life. In John 6:45 The Lord even cites scripture to further consolidate this truth…

It is written in the Prophets, And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—

According to The Lord’s interpretation of Isaiah 54:13 from where this quote is taken, it is God’s teaching and instruction, God’s leading and direction that would bring people to faith in Him. The Lord Jesus interpreted this scripture passage as referring to Himself. The entire goal of being taught by God was to come to faith and trust in Christ. God’s entire teaching and instruction pointed to and culminated in Christ.

God’s role in bringing people to faith in Christ was (and still is) so critical that The Lord singled it out for highlighting, emphasising and even labouring it with His own disciples – John 6:65

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

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