Welcome back to another “cup of coffee” length post about Jesus’ “Verily, verily” statements as recorded by John. As I have said before, I believe these statements were intentionally written beginning “Amen, amen” to draw specific attention to the lessons being taught by Jesus. Of course, all of the teachings of Jesus are important. However, I believe these to be thematically important in John’s viewpoint walking and talking with Jesus.
In this particular passage, the passage rendered “Verily, verily (KJV)” and “Truly, truly (ESV)” is speaking of the act of believing in Jesus leads to “everlasting life”.
47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
First of all, looking at that first verse, the word “believes” is a continued act. You don’t just believe once and then that’s all. You continue to believe or you don’t. Up until now, He has been teaching that He is the Bread of Life. Here, He adds a new clarifying element. Jesus is going to give His life in the flesh so that those who believe in Him may live beginning the moment they truly believe.
In order to continue living in the physical, we continue to eat food and drink water. We must continue to consume spiritually the sustenance of Jesus Christ. Once the process begins with believing and confessing, we must continue to take in His Word so that we can assimilate Him into us and begin living life in Him and He in us. This metaphor of “Bread of Life” gives the emphasis on how truly important Jesus is to life. He is absolutely essential. Of course, this “eating of the flesh” should be taken figuratively of the benefits of His sacrifice. He is saying that He is giving this bread, which symbolizes His body given in death to save the world.
Also, Jesus is contrasting between the physical bread, as in the manna that God gave the Israelites in the wilderness, and the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. Manna met only a limited need. It provided temporary physical life. The Israelites came to loathe it, and ultimately they died. Jesus is the Bread of a different kind. He is from heaven and gives life. A person who consumes or takes in that bread will not die.
Now there are some that say that this passage is referring to the sacramentalism of the Lord’s Supper. However, the Lord’s Supper happened a year or so later than what was occurring here. So we can take this passage to illuminate the meaning behind the Lord’s Supper, but not the other way around. Eating the living Bread was an expression meaning that man must accept by faith what Christ did for him and live by obedience to Him without sin so that the penalty will not have to be paid again. The act of remembering the Lord’s Supper does not cause one to be saved and have eternal life. That is simply a calling for us to remember Him often. As many times as we gather for bread, we need to remember what Christ did for us in His sacrifice.
Speaking of His sacrifice, did you know that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies and laws? In the Torah (the first five books of our Bibles), the Israelites were given many, many laws. There were a lot of sacrificial type of laws that one must do to stay in right standing with God. And there was a High Priest and regular priests of varying degrees that attended to the Tabernacle of God making intercessions to God on behalf of the people. Jesus fulfilled specifically ALL of them. He truly is the only way to have a relationship with God.
It is so amazing that God has given us literally everything. He has caused us to be back in right relationship with Him even though we were the one to mess up the relationship in the first place. He gives us every thing we need including bread (sustenance). He gives us the very substance that we need for life to continue. And He is the living bread, meaning because of Him we can continue to live. That is life. And the confidence we have in believing him brings life.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..