Jesus tells His listeners that their ancestors ate manna when they were in the wilderness, and they died. He is the bread that came down from Heaven. Those who eat it will not die. Here is where Jesus says He is the “living” bread. All those who eat of this “living” bread, shall live forever. This bread is Jesus’ flesh. He will give it for the life of the world. We will enter into the full meaning of these verses when we recognize that in them Jesus Christ voices a great claim, reveals a requirement, and then offers a wonderful promise.
The claim that the Lord Jesus makes in these verses is, quite simply, to be the “bread of life.” This is the second time Jesus makes this claim. This image itself constitutes the first of the great “I am” sayings that are a characteristic of this Gospel. Jesus tells His listeners that He is all that men and women will ever need. He is the sole way to come to God the Father.
Another way of setting the context for this saying is to notice that it is the third great Old Testament image. It has been appropriated as a description of who Jesus Christ is and what He does. Note http://ref.ly/Jn1.31 where Jesus uses the figure of Jacob’s ladder. The angels are descending and ascending on this ladder from heaven. This suggests that Jesus is the One through whom God the Father is revealed to humanity. In John 3, he is the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. The crucifixion is portrayed here. The people were delivered from sin by looking up to the serpent that was lifted up before them. Jesus is the new manna (the bread of life). The new people of God are fed during the years of their desert wandering. Of course, there are two mannas. There is the manna the Israelites ate under the direction of Moses. This manna sustained physical life. It had to be gathered each day. If any were left over, it would spoil. They were to gather only what was needed for the day. Then there is the manna that Jesus gives. It sustains the kind of life that lasts forever.
Jesus is your manna. He sustains and strengthens you one day at a time. He satisfies the deepest longings and needs of the human soul. Jesus will not satisfy every want or desire that you have. Some things we do not need because they could hinder our spiritual life. I believe I will use an illustration from Boice Expositional Commentary.
Take a child who is beginning to grow up with a highly sharpened sense of what he “needs,” as most children do. He thinks he needs candy–about every hour throughout the day. He thinks he needs to watch the late, late show on television. He thinks he should be able to set his own schedule. Get up when he wants, and go to bed when he wants. He thinks he wants to go in and out when he chooses.
Do you understand what I am getting at? These are things that he considers”needs.” These “needs” are from the perspective of a child. If he is allowed to do what he wants, he will become a brat. He will develop unrestrained desires on everyone else. He might end up in jail.
Needs-legitimate needs are things that are necessary for the sustaining of one’s life. The child needs discipline in order to become a responsible adult. He needs to be loved, have goals, guidance, and encouragement. He needs the necessary things of life.
Real needs differ from our imagined needs. Jesus Christ will give these needs. In Him alone, we have salvation and life eternal. This I AM implies that we should feed upon Him and grow. We are also loved, disciplined, encouraged, comforted, and spiritually strengthened.