Bread of Life

Sunday, February 13, 2022
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier

John 6:51-58

It was a communion Sunday, and the altar was draped with starched linen and set with silver chalices and plates. The congregation listened in silent reverence as the pastor read the communion liturgy in a dignified voice. But when he repeated Jesus’ words, ‘This is my body, broken for you; this is my blood, shed for you’ a small girl yelled out from one of the front pews, ‘Ew, yuk!’  The congregation looked horrified,” the pastor wrote, “as if someone had splattered blood all over the altar —

Jesus had multiplied five little loaves and two fish to feed over 5,000 people. After that miracle, the people wanted to make him their king. They knew a good thing when they saw it. Here was someone who would keep their bellies full, and they didn’t want to let him get away.

But, Jesus wasn’t interested in being that kind of a king.  Instead, he tells them that he is not just a bread provider, but that he IS bread.  The bread of life that has come down from heaven.

That was confusing enough, but as the conversation went on, Jesus amps up the imagery and it gets even more astounding – even gruesome. “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh,” he tells them.

WHAT?!  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” the Jewish leaders respond.

Ew, Yuk!

Surely Jesus meant to say something else?

To eat someone’s flesh does appear in Old Testament but it is used as a metaphor for great hostility.   And the drinking of blood? That was an abomination. Offensive in the extreme. Dietary laws prohibited this:

Genesis 9 says, “you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, it’s blood.”

And, Leviticus 17 reads: “You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood.”

So, they ask for clarification.  But Jesus tells them “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.

The word Jesus uses for “EAT” here is, trogo, which means to gnaw or to chomp. Not a delicate nibble.  But more like a ravenous dog scarfing down their food.

The whole thing sounds a lot like cannibalism. Or the script of a vampire film or horror story.

Indeed, the early Christians were actually accused of Cannibalism when they celebrated the Lord’s Supper, recognizing the bread and wine as Christ’s body and blood.

Interestingly, “flesh and blood” is also a Hebrew idiom that means the whole person.  It is like us saying “body and soul.”  So, if I were to say, “I love you, body and soul,” it means, “I love you with my entire being.”  In the same way “flesh and blood” means the whole person.

Jesus is all in.  He is giving us his absolute everything… flesh and blood. And invites us to eat, taking him into ourselves, and drink deeply of all he offers so freely. It conveys an intimacy in relationship that us hard wrap or minds around. Jesus offers you himself – his life.  And bids you to feast on him.

56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.  Abide here is the Greek word menno which means to remain, to linger, to dwell.

When you eat food, it literally becomes a part of you. It integrates into your tissue, bones, and blood.  One preacher wrote, “For those who receive Jesus, the whole Jesus, his life clings to their bones and courses through their veins. He can no more be taken from the believer’s life than last Tuesday’s breakfast can by plucked from one’s body.”

He dwells within you in such a relationship so intimate, that his life is intertwined in yours. This relationship is so much more a creed we profess, a religion we practice, or a moral teacher we follow. And far more visceral than an intellectual assent to Christian doctrine.

When you feed on the Christ by faith, head knowledge becomes heart knowledge.

Instead of knowing a lot about Jesus, you come to know him intimately.

And Intellectual belief becomes a life-giving relationship that feeds our souls.

For example: You may enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread, warm from the oven. You may enjoy watching your friends and family eat it. You might research recipes, study its chemical make-up, or even write poetry about bread. But it will not do much for your hunger unless You EAT it!

So here is where faith meets life.

We all hunger, both physically and spiritually. For meaning and purpose, to be known, to love and to be loved, for joy, beauty, peace, wholeness, and healing. We chase after so many things, hoping to fill our emptiness – but ultimately only the “bread of heaven” can truly satisfy.

We were made for him. And he is our true bread, our true drink.


Jesus invites you to take him into the deepest part of your being.

Drink, Chew, Swallow… and receive His life, a life that lasts forever.


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