From the Word
“I AM I AM the Bread of Life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the Bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” John 6:48-50
Jesus had fed a huge crowd of people the previous day and now they have found Him wanting more. So He gives them more, but not what they came for. They came because they thought He would provide them food like God did for the children of Israel when he sent manna from heaven to feed them each day. They saw an opportunity to be relieved of bringing forth food from the ground through toil and sweat. They wanted him to provide for their daily bread in a wondrous and miraculous way, as He had done the day before.
What Jesus gave them, and gives us, is far more miraculous than multiplying fish and loaves to feed their bodies. He points out to them that their fathers ate the manna and died. He then promised them bread that would give them eternal life. The bread He gives is Him. He uses “I AM I AM” to show them that the true bread from heaven is God who took on flesh to feed us for eternal life with God. He came to take our sins, and to dress us in His righteousness so that we might live forever with God.
How do we get this bread? We get it when we interact with Him and receive His grace. People often wonder whether this bread is the Sacrament of the Altar. He is not speaking only of the Sacrament, but anytime we come in contact with God’s grace. We receive the Bread of Life when we hear God’s Word, most especially the Gospel of Jesus. It is the Gospel that makes us alive forever. So reception of the Word of Christ is reception of God’s grace; the Bread of Life. In Baptism we receive the blessings Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, thus we receive the Bread of Life. In the Sacrament we receive the very body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, thus we receive the Bread of Life. Jesus comes into our midst with His grace to bless us. We receive Him in Word and Sacrament, thus we receive the Bread of Life.
As we live each day, God grants our prayer for daily bread. He blesses us with food, and good stewardship to use it. We give Him thanks for this. But no matter how nourished we are by daily bread, it cannot give us eternal life. We invite the Bread of Life to be our guest as we eat our daily bread for He is eternal life.