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Spiritual vs. physical food

Bread of God and Living Water

True Bread vs Manna

Eating and Eternal Life

Eating and Believing

Spirit vs Flesh


A series of articles exploring what God says is the ultimate Truth. Once established, all other truths are subject to it... including yours, mine, everyone's.


John 6

Preface: Jesus as Lamb, The Temple, a Serpent, True Bread, Light, Door, Shepard, Grain of Wheat, and Vine.
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to either Himself or what He gives as something figuratively. He referes to eternal life (which He gives) as Living Water. He is frequently using common everyday earthly items that people could easily relate to in order to describe Himself or spiritual things. Bread is simply one from among them:

John 1 - Jesus = Lamb
Joh 1:29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Joh 1:35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
Joh 1:36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"


John 2 - Jesus = Temple
Joh 2:19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
Joh 2:20 The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"
Joh 2:21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.


John 3 - Jesus = Serpent in the wilderness, Light
Joh 3:13 "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
Joh 3:14 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
Joh 3:15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Joh 3:19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
Joh 3:20 "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
Joh 3:21 "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."


John 4 - Jesus gives living water (eternal life)
Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
Joh 4:11 She *said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?
Joh 4:12 "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?"
Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;
Joh 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
Joh 4:25 The woman *said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us."
Joh 4:26 Jesus *said to her, "I who speak to you am He."


John 6 - Jesus = True Bread
To be discussed below.

John 7 - Jesus gives living water
Joh 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
Joh 7:38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"


John 9 - Jesus = Light
Joh 9:5 "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."

John 10 - Jesus = The Door, Good Shepard
Joh 10:9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
Joh 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Joh 10:11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Joh 10:12 "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
Joh 10:13 "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
Joh 10:14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,
Joh 10:15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.


John 12 - Jesus = grain of wheat, Light
Joh 12:23 And Jesus *answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Joh 12:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Joh 12:35 So Jesus said to them, "For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.
Joh 12:36 "While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light." These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.
Joh 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.
Joh 12:45 "He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.
Joh 12:46 "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
Joh 12:47 "If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
Joh 12:48 "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
Joh 12:49 "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.
Joh 12:50 "I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."


John 15 - Jesus = True Vine
Joh 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Joh 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Joh 15:4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Joh 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
Joh 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

As can easily be seen, Jesus often likened Himself to everyday earthly things that everyday people would easily understand. He did not have to go through the likely complex teaching of Pharisees, Saducee, etc. He went straight to the people with a message that they could relate to and understand. Now, onto our text: John 6

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John 6

Physical food vs. "spiritual food"
Joh 6:24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus.
Joh 6:25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You get here?"
Joh 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Joh 6:27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."
Joh 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
Jesus draws a clear distinction between "spiritual food" and "physical food". Jesus contrasts the work of God (that they believe in Him) - belief being a spiritual "thing" rather than a physical thing. Jesus also contrasts "physical food" that perishes with "spiritual food" that endures to eternal life. Throughout John 6, Jesus is continuously comparing and contrasting physical things with spiritual things. Physical things being temporary or sometimes illustrations of the vastly more important spiritual things which are eternal. The physical things are a mere shadow or type of the spiritual things:
Col 2:16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--
- all physical things: a mere shadow of the real substance:
Col 2:17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Heb 8:4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law;
Heb 8:5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN." - physical earthly things are a mere shadow of the spiritual realities. They are not the substance, but merely something that we are familiar with that can illustrate a spiritual reality. Heb 10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
- again, Law was primarily dealing with physical things (sacrifices, temple, etc.) which are not the realities, but shadows of the spiritual realities.

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Bread of God and Living Water
Joh 6:30 So they said to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?
Joh 6:31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'"
Joh 6:32 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.
Joh 6:33 "For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
Again, Jesus contrasts "physical food" bread associated with Moses (manna) with true "spiritual food" that is He, Himself.
Joh 6:34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread."
Notice that this request is nearly parallel to the request that the woman at the well made back in John 4:
Joh 4:15 The woman *said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw."
Except in the case of the woman, she is asking for water instead of food. In both cases, the respondees to Jesus had no idea He was talking of "spiritual food and drink", they were thinking purely in physical terms. In both cases, they wanted to ease their physical labor to find the source of ongoing physical food (the Jews who just got fed wanted access to manna that would be a food source forever and the woman who wanted access to an eternal source of physical water so she wouldn't have to go often to draw water).
Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;
Joh 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
Joh 4:15 The woman *said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw."
But notice that Jesus is clearly not speaking of physical water, but rather, He, Himself. He is the one Who gives His life (Himself) for the world for the the forgiveness of sins (eternal life). Jesus uses very parallel language when he speaks of Himself being "spiritual food":
Joh 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
Joh 6:36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
Both the water and food in the conversations are being thought of as "physical" by the people. Jesus is clearly speaking of a "spiritual" water and food that will lead to eternal life (as highlighted in red).

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True Bread vs Manna (physical bread)
Joh 6:48 "I am the bread of life.
Joh 6:49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
Joh 6:50 "This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
Jesus plainly states that He is the bread of life. It is obvious that He is speaking of eternal life, but may be less obvious to know wheter He is speaking of the "spiritual food" or the "physical food".

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Eating and eternal life
Joh 6:51 "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."
Joh 6:52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"
Joh 6:53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
Joh 6:54 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Here, Jesus is equating eating His flesh and drinking His blood with those whom have eternal life. Elsewhere, we see more plainly what is required for eternal life:
Joh 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Joh 3:15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Joh 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Joh 6:47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
Joh 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

In 1John5, the Lord further ties "he who has the Son" with those who have eternal life. In a very real way, those who have the Son have to believe in Him or "have Him". A figurative way of illustrating "having Him" that all of His hearers could easily relate to would be "eating Him":
1Jn 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1Jn 5:12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.


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Eating and believing
Joh 6:55 "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
Joh 6:56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

Jesus is equating "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood" with he who "abides in Me, and I in him.": equating "eating Him" with "abiding in Him". That is, those who believe in Him abide in Him. He has become a part of them figuratively shown here as "eating" Him. In order for Him to abide in you, you need to have Him in you: you need to eat Him like you would eat bread - He has to become a part of you. The bread becomes a part of you just like He becomes a part of those whom believe in Him:
Joh 15:4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Joh 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
1Jn 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
1Jn 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1Jn 3:24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1Jn 2:24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
2Jn 1:9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.
1Jn 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1Jn 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

To "abide" in something also means to be "in" something. "Abiding in Him" can also mean "in Him" or "one" with Him:
1Co_6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Joh 17:21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
Joh 17:22 "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;
Joh 17:23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
Eph 5:30 because we are members of His body.
Joh 14:10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
Joh 14:20 "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
Rom 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Rom 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Rom 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
1Co 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
2Ti 1:14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

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Spirit vs flesh (spiritual vs. physical)
Joh 6:57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
Joh 6:58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."
Joh 6:59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
Joh 6:60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"
Joh 6:61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?
Joh 6:62 "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
Joh 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

Jesus clearly constrasts the Spirit vs. the flesh. That is, the spiritual vs. the physical. His whole treatise here has been about manna vs. the True Bread. He sums it up here by clearly stating that the physical is of no eternal value. He further explains that it is the spiritual that gives life (not the physical). Finally, He emphasises that His Words are spirit and they are life. It is Him and His Words (He is the Word - John1:1) that give life - not a piece of physical bread. Joh 6:64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
Joh 6:65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
Joh 6:66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Joh 6:67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"
Joh 6:68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
Joh 6:69 "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
Simon Peter adds the exclamation point to the whole chapter in emphasizing again that it is the Lord and His Words that lead to eternal life - not a piece of physical bread.

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