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Women World Leaders' Podcast

Jun 21, 2023

Jesus said in John 6:41-59 “I am the bread of life.” The crowd murmured in disagreement. But that didn’t stop Jesus from teaching truth. What did this statement mean to the Jewish people and what does it mean for us today? Join Julie Jenkins today as we unpack this together


Last week we focused on the blessing after the miracle – that is, Jesus using the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 to point to the glory of God. Now Jesus moves from the area of Genessaret to teach in Capernaum, his home base and a prosperous town of about 1000 people. The lesson He shared is difficult for us to understand TODAY, but if we put ourselves in the shoes of the Jewish people who were contemporaries of Jesus, we can barely begin to imagine the difficulty they would have had with His words. Which is why John states in chapter 6 verse 41 as written in the New Living Translation…

41 Then the people[a] began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

I can hear it now…What was that He said? Some translations say that the people “grumbled” which can give us a different picture…my dad would have called that “bellyaching” … and that can make us think that the crowd may have even been speaking belligerently; but the correct interpretation, I believe, is that they were all kind of whispering to each other, a bit shocked and in unbelief, not knowing what to make of this statement that was said openly in the synagogue. “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

To give you some background, after the Israelites left Egypt, and as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, God provided them manna every single day. The actual word manna means “what is it?” – because the people didn’t know what it was! They quickly learned that manna was bread from heaven that would keep them alive if eaten daily but would only last for a single day. They were to gather what would sustain them for the upcoming 24 hours – or 48 hours if it was the day prior to the Sabbath. If they collected more than that, it would rot in a disgusting way. So they had to trust that God would provide more for them every single day. Later, the Jews were taught that when the Messiah came, He would also bring manna, or bread, that was capable of giving them life. So now Jesus said, not “I BRING the bread of life,” – which is what they would have been expecting from the Messiah… but “I AM the bread of life – sent down FROM heaven.”

What could this mean?

Instead of trying to understand Jesus’ words, however, they simply dismissed Him by attacking His character. Verse 42…

42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

They didn’t understand what Jesus said, so their response was to dismiss His authority. As WE study the Bible and apply it to our lives, there are certainly going to be things we don’t understand. Our job is to keep seeking God’s answer and to trust Him AS the authority even when we don’t understand.

Have you ever heard a word from God, and then questioned whether you heard it at all? Any relationship counselor will tell you that the key to a good relationship is listening. If something confuses you about God or the Bible, keep seeking…keep listening…keep asking questions. Our God is not a God of confusion, and He knows better than we do how we learn and grow. We can always trust His timing and revelation to us.

Jesus didn’t answer their murmurs that dismissed His authority. Instead, He told them to focus in…He wasn’t done explaining. Verse 43…

43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.

Anyone who hears about Jesus or feels the pull of faith in Jesus, does so because God has had them in His sight since the beginning of time. We cannot draw ourselves to God – that is one of the reasons we marvel at how gracious and loving He is! Just like the Israelites could do NOTHING to make the manna that would sustain them fall from the sky, we cannot bring God closer to us. On the contrary, God has positioned HIMSELF in our lives – He has OFFERED Himself – our job is to say yes. To accept the manna and ingest it…to receive Jesus, THE bread of life, into our very lives. But unlike manna, which lasted only 24-48 hours, the one who openly receives Jesus, receives life eternal. Jesus is THE bread that will sustain us for ETERNITY.

Jesus backs up this bombshell with the news that He is now their direct access to God the Father. Isaiah and Jeremiah both had prophesied that a time would come when the people would have a direct connection with God … something they had always had to rely on the high priest for…and Jesus is saying that HE is now that direct contact…verse 45

45 As it is written in the Scriptures,[b] ‘They will ALL be taught BY God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me...