'I Am the Bread of Life' Meaning and Scripture

I Am the Bread of Life quote by Jesus with bread and grapes
Jesus, The Bread of Life.

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Bread of Life is a title Jesus Christ used to describe himself in John 6:35: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty" (NLT). The phrase, "I am the bread of life," is one of several "I Am" statements that Jesus spoke in the Gospel of John

'I Am the Bread of Life'

  • Throughout the Bible, bread is a symbolic representation of God's life-sustaining provision.
  • When Jesus told the hungry crowds that he was the Bread of Life, he was teaching his followers that He alone was their true source of spiritual life, both in this present world and in the everlasting life to come.
  • The Bread of Life that Jesus represents never perishes, spoils, or runs out.  

'I Am the Bread of Life' Sermon - John 6:35

In John 6, Jesus fed a large crowd—far more than 5,000 people—with just five loaves of barley bread and two fish (John 6:1-15). This miracle astounded the people who declared that Jesus was a great prophet—the one they had been expecting. But when Jesus saw that the people wanted to force him to be their king, he quietly slipped away to be alone in the hills.

The next day the crowds went in search of Jesus, not because they had understood his miracle, but because he had filled their appetites. The people were caught up in the day to day treadmill of getting their needs met and providing food for their hungry bellies. But Jesus was concerned with saving their souls. He told them, "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" (John 6:27, NLT).

Lesson: Believing in Jesus Christ as the source of our spiritual existence is how we gain eternal life (John 3:16). When we put our faith in him, he gives us spiritual bread that will not spoil and abundant life that will never end.

Jesus wanted the people to comprehend who he was: "The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:33; NLT). Again, the crowd asked for a miraculous sign, like when Moses gave the people manna to eat in the wilderness.

The crowds still saw Jesus merely as someone who could meet their physical needs. So, Jesus responded with this powerful and profound truth: "I am the bread of life that came down from heaven" (John 6:41). Christ explained that anyone who came to him in saving faith would never be hungry or thirsty again. God would not reject them, for it was his will that all should come to faith in him (verses 37-40).

The listeners knew that Jesus, by claiming to come from heaven, was declaring that he was God. He was the real Bread of Heaven—the ever-present daily Manna—the lifegiving, eternal source of provision for today, tomorrow, and all eternity.

The people wanted this bread, but when Jesus explained that he himself was the Bread, they became more and more offended. Their offense turned to revulsion when Jesus explained that he had come to give his flesh and blood—to sacrifice His life—so that the world could have eternal life (John 6:51).

He declared, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you" (John 6:53, NLT). The teaching was so difficult to understand that many of his disciples deserted him.

Only those whose spiritual hearts had been opened could comprehend that to eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood meant to grasp by faith the significance of Jesus' death on the cross.

Lesson: It is the death of Jesus Christ that takes away the curse of sin and rescues those who receive his forgiveness from spiritual death. Christ's sacrifice on the cross enables us to receive eternal life. To all who believe in him and accept him as Savior, He is the Bread of Life.

Bread of Life in the Old Testament

The idea of bread as a symbol of God's provision and life was a well-developed concept in the Old Testament. Early on, when God established the wilderness tabernacle for worship among the people of Israel, he gave instructions to build a table called "the table of the showbread." Every Sabbath, the priests of the tabernacle (and later, in the temple) would arrange twelve loaves of bread called "the bread of the presence" on the table near God's presence in the holy place (Leviticus 24:9; Numbers 4:7).

This presentation of the bread symbolized God's eternal, covenant relationship with his people and his constant care and provision for the tribes of Israel, represented by the twelve loaves of bread. When Jesus preached his sermon about being the Bread of Life, discerning Jews in the crowd would have connected the dots to this long-practiced aspect of their worship.

God also provided manna in the wilderness—a miraculous daily provision of food sent from heaven—to save the Jews from dying of starvation in the desert. Unlike the Bread of Life that Jesus offered in John 6, manna was food that spoiled by the end of the day:

Then Moses told them, "Do not keep any of it until morning." But some of them didn't listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them. After this the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. And as the sun became hot, the flakes they had not picked up melted and disappeared. (Exodus 16:19–21, NLT)

Daily Prayer

The Bread of Life that Jesus embodies will never perish, spoil, or run out. But like manna in the wilderness, the life-sustaining bread of Jesus is meant to be received by his followers daily. In the New Testament, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11, ESV)

We can trust God to take care of our everyday needs. Jesus said:

"Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you." (Matthew 6:26–30, NLT)

Part of feeding on our daily bread means spending time each day in the Word of God. According to Scripture, the Word of the Lord is more important than food to sustain our daily existence:

Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3, NLT)

Not by Bread Alone

Jesus showed us the importance of depending on God's Word when Satan tempted him in the wilderness. After the Lord had fasted for 40 days and nights, the devil came and enticed him to rely on his own resources and turn stones into loaves of bread to eat. But Jesus resisted the devil's seduction with a powerful declaration of God's truth: "No! The Scriptures say, 'People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4, NLT).

Jesus would not be tempted to rely on his own power. He lived to do the will of his Father: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” (John 4:34, NLT)

Christ is our example. If he trusted God to provide his daily needs, so ought we.

When we obey God's will and live by his Word, we feed on the Bread of Life given by our heavenly Father. The Bible promises that God is faithful to sustain those who are devoted to him:

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. (Psalm 37:25, NLT)
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Fairchild, Mary. "'I Am the Bread of Life' Meaning and Scripture." Learn Religions, Oct. 27, 2020, learnreligions.com/i-am-the-bread-of-life-sermon-5080111. Fairchild, Mary. (2020, October 27). 'I Am the Bread of Life' Meaning and Scripture. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/i-am-the-bread-of-life-sermon-5080111 Fairchild, Mary. "'I Am the Bread of Life' Meaning and Scripture." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/i-am-the-bread-of-life-sermon-5080111 (accessed May 29, 2023).