Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (4)


Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)

The Apostle John penned his Gospel with the purpose of demonstrating the deity of Jesus Christ through the “signs” He performed and His teachings. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31, emphasis mine). In the section I am covering today, John presents two “signs”: Jesus feeding the 5000,[1] Jesus walking on the water;[2] and Jesus’ first “I AM” statement, “I Am the bread of life” (John 6:35, emphasis mine).[3]

On the previous day, Jesus demonstrated His deity by feeding over 5000 people with only five loaves and two fish, and now those who were fed came looking for more. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26, emphasis mine). This launched Jesus’ fourth discourse as recorded by John to explain how Jesus is “the Bread of Life.”

Today, like then, we tend to focus on the material things of life. The poor worry about where the next meal will come from. The rich worry about accumulating more wealth and keeping the wealth they already possess. Solomon said, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30:8-9). The trouble with Solomon’s Goldilocks system – not too hot, not too cold, but just right – is that the concept of rich or poor is subjective as defined by fallen individuals. Jesus was more succinct. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:25, 33-34, emphasis mine). This is true regardless of one’s perceived financial status.

“Meat” refers to food, and combined with clothing (“raiment”) implies the material necessities of life. Jesus said that life is more than the material stuff required to sustain it. Without food, our physical body will die of starvation. Without raiment, i.e. covering/shelter, we die of exposure. However, Jesus contends that life is more than our temporary physical existence. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).

“Meat” costs. One must work to earn the means to obtain it, so their question was understandable. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28, emphasis mine).  The Bible teaches that eternal life cannot be bought. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, emphasis mine). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, emphasis mine). However, Jesus concurs with them that work is required for eternal life. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29, emphasis mine). “Belief” is the work! It is probably the fundamental element for salvation. The Greek word translated “believe” is pisteuō meaning to “have faith in” or “to trust in.” Without it, it is impossible to obtain eternal life. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine). Jesus makes no pretense that believing comes easily. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, emphasis mine). It takes a certain amount of effort to place your trust in “things not seen.” It is work; Jesus said so. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29, emphasis mine).

However, the work is not entirely that of the believer. Look again at what Jesus said. “This is the work of God.” “God” is in the genitive case, meaning that the “work” belongs to Him. Looking again at Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (emphasis mine). “Grace” is God’s unmerited favor obtained through the channel of “faith,” which “is the gift of God.” In other words, God gives the “faith” to believe. That is His work through the Holy Spirit working in the heart of the believer. Of the Holy Spirit Jesus said, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment … Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:8, 13, emphasis mine).

Having been fed and seen the miracles performed by Jesus, His hearers remained incredulous. “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (John 6:30-31, emphasis mine). It is sadly comical that they believed their history having only heard or read of it, and here they witnessed Jesus’ miracles, and still wanted more proof. Their minds remained bound to their bellies with thoughts of endless manna. “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:32-33, emphasis mine).

Obvious to us, but not to His listeners, Jesus spoke of Himself. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35, emphasis mine).[4] Just as physical bread contains properties to sustain physical life, the “spiritual” bread that is Jesus sustains life through eternity. Unlike the physical bread that is consumed continually through the mouth, the spirit through faith consumes the spiritual bread once. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, emphasis mine). The method of consumption is through belief. “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not” (John 6:36, emphasis mine).

As stated earlier, “belief” is work. It is the required work for obtaining eternal life. Jesus’ hearers had witnessed miracles of healing. They ate from the five loaves and two fish He multiplied by His creative power. They saw and yet did not believe. No work took place in their lives. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37, emphasis mine). We saw that salvation is the work of God. Obviously, God did not work in the lives of these people, or, according to Jesus, they would have come to Him. This raises the question of God’s election, something Jesus clearly teaches. “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16, emphasis mine). Superficially, this teaching conflicts with concept of free will. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17, emphasis mine). A tense paradox exists between God’s sovereign will and man’s responsibility. Theologians have debated the question throughout church history without clear resolution to the puzzle. I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle,[5] and cannot be answered here in the short course of this writing. The point is that those who do come to Jesus are eternally secure. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37, emphasis mine).

John informs us at the beginning of his Gospel that Jesus, the Word, is the eternal Creator God (John 1:1-3), and that He came and put on human flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus affirms John’s claim. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38, emphasis mine). Jesus’ expression seems to indicate that He and the Father are two separate entities, as my father and I are two completely different people. That is not the case in the relationship within the Godhead. (See last week’s article for a little better explanation.)[6] In perhaps overly simplified terms, the Body does what the Head directs.

Here is the bottom line: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39-40, emphasis mine). Consuming, i.e. taking in or accepting, the Bread of Life assures the believer of eternal life that is sure and secure for eternity.

Reader, have you partaken of the Bread of Life?


[1]  “Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (4),”

[2]  “Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (5),”

[3]  “Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (1),”

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  “Somewhere in the Middle,”

[6]  “Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (3),”


1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Evangelism, Gospel, Religion, Salvation, Theology

One response to “Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (4)

  1. Ahhhh … the Bread of Life! 🙂