What does it mean for Jesus to be the bread of life? What does it mean to ‘feast on your King’?
John 6:25-60 helps us understand what feasting on Jesus means.
25 When they found him [Jesus] on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 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.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “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. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Jesus’ language in this passage is uncomfortably graphic: ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ (v53). No wonder those listening said it is a ‘hard teaching’ (v60). But when you read this passage carefully, Jesus makes clear that he isn’t endorsing cannibalism. He isn’t holding up Hannibal as a role model. He’s using ‘eating’ and ‘drinking’ as a metaphor – as symbolism – for believing in him – for faith in him. To eat Jesus’ flesh is to believe in him. To drink Jesus’ blood is to trust in him. Feasting on Jesus means turning to him, trusting him, hoping in him, following him, loving him. Feasting on Jesus means NOT feasting on alternatives to Jesus to satisfy the eternal hunger of our souls. It means turning to Jesus, the only feast that will satisfy.
Head: Read through the passage again, noting when Jesus switches between talking metaphorically about ‘feasting’ on him (the ‘eating’ and ‘drinking’ bits), and speaking literally (the ‘believing’ bits). How does this passage help us understand what feasting on Jesus means?
Heart: Have you realised that only Jesus will fill the eternal hunger of your soul? What (or who) are you tempted to turn to to fill your hunger instead of turning to Jesus?
Hands: Jesus says, ‘Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ How can you ensure that you satisfy your deepest hunger by feasting on Jesus, rather than feasting on things that will leave you hungry?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus gave his very flesh and blood to satisfy the eternal hunger of my soul. Thank you that his body was broken for me, and that his blood was poured out for me. Thank you that by believing in his name I will never be hungry, and never be thirsty. What an amazing thing Father. By your Spirit within me, please help me to stop trying to satisfy my hunger by turning to anything or anyone other than Jesus. Help me to feast on Jesus alone. In his name I pray, Amen.
This Grow Daily was first posted with the Spirit of Jesus series in 2016.