Living Bread

He really did say that.

John 6:41–52

The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 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 Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

The Jews are wondering how Jesus could have come down from heaven when they know His parents. Jesus overhears this “murmuring” and answers it seemingly by ignoring it. Instead, He turns back to the issue of Him being the bread. Now he explicitly claims that this bread (Himself) is to be eaten.

The Jews’ question, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” serves a very important function in this passage; it shows that we didn’t misunderstand what Jesus said.

Because we are reading a translation of the Bible, we must always be mindful of the possibility of mistranslation or misunderstanding. Language idioms can be, shall we say, interesting. In fact, we’re reading a translation of a translation. Jesus wasn’t speaking in Greek; He was speaking in Aramaic.

But because of the crowd reaction, we know that what Jesus said in the original tongue must have meant what it sounds like in English.

He really did say that.

Okay then. So, answer the question. “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?

He can’t, literally. It’s a metaphor. In hindsight, with the cross in the rear-view mirror, we know that Jesus “giving” us His flesh is giving up His flesh on the cross, and “eating” it means receiving it. But the people hearing this don’t have that perspective.

I often wonder what it would have been like to have walked with the incarnate Lord. It would have been an awesome privilege.

Yes, but awesome doesn’t mean easy.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.