Jesus uses the image of bread to demonstrate that, even compared to all the great things God has done before, God’s greatest miracle is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, the bread of life, is a greater miracle than the manna God sent in the dessert (Exod. 16:14), greater than the bread the angel brought to restore Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-8), greater even than the loaves Jesus had just multiplied to feed a crowd of more than five thousand people (John 6:1-14)! In Jesus, God gives bread for the journey—not only for this life, but also into eternal life.
We’re so familiar with this image that it loses some of its original power. But the claim Jesus is making here is a radical one—and a dangerous one. To Jesus’ original audience, his claim to be the bread from heaven, the Son of God, must have sounded like outrageous blasphemy. “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” they say. “How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:42). Who does this guy think he is?
Jesus’ message is both outrageous and outrageously comforting: anyone who eats this bread will live forever. The Son of God meets us in this life and gives us real and certain hope for eternal life. Normal bread is amazing in its own right; manna is miraculous. But Jesus Christ is the true bread and the greatest miracle of all. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).