The Bread of Life
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Last week we were introduced to John’s Gospel and looked at an overview of Jesus’ “I AM” statements and their purpose. This week we’ll be looking at one particular “I AM” statement – Jesus’ claim that, “I AM the Bread of Life,” in John 6. Before we look at John 6, it would be helpful to get some context by looking at an overview of what has happened in John’s Gospel so far. The first three chapters of John introduce John’s vision of Jesus as the Word of God made flesh and cover the beginning of His ministry. This includes the following events:
John the Baptist’s testimony of Jesus as the promised Messiah
The calling of the disciples
Jesus’ first miracle at Cana
Jesus’ clearing of the Temple and first conflict with the Pharisees
Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus
John the Baptist’s Second Testimony of Jesus
The events of chapters 4-5 set the stage for Jesus’ first “I AM” statement.
In John chapter 4, Jesus has a well-known conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well in which He talks about living water. Jesus contrasts the well water, which will leave the one who drinks still thirsty, with water that He gives, by which, the one who drinks will never thirst. In verse 25, the woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus responds to her and says, “I who speak to you am he.” Although this is not constructed as an “I AM” statement, Jesus is beginning to speak about His unique identity using metaphor.
John 5 begins with Jesus healing a crippled man on the Sabbath by a pool of water. The Pharisees accused Him of doing work on the Sabbath. He responded by saying “My father is working until now, and I am working.” The Pharisees then accused Him of making Himself equal with God. This encounter, along with Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritans, is causing tension to build with the Pharisees; that tension is going to increase in chapter 6 and throughout the book of John.
As chapter 6 begins, the crowds following Jesus have seen two miracles of healing (John 4:43-54 and John 5:1-13). Now Jesus reveals His identity by “feeding 5,000 men, not including women and children.” This miracle is the only one recorded in all four of the Gospels (Matthew 14; Mark 6, and Luke 9). After the miracle, Jesus withdraws by Himself to a mountain. The disciples get into a boat and start to cross the sea to Capernaum when they see Jesus walking on the water and are frightened. He says to them “It is I, do not be afraid.” The literal Greek rendering of “It is I” is “I am” (in Greek: eimi). Although this is not a direct “I AM” statement, John’s choice of wording was certainly aimed at directing His audience to the idea that Jesus is divine.
What does the text say?
This stage of learning involves reading repetitively to gain familiarity with the text and looking for detail. We look for any words or phrases that are repeated. We may need to use a dictionary to look up definitions of words we may not fully understand. We look for key transition words (if/then, therefore, but) and see how they connect the text. We write out any questions that arise because it is okay to have questions as you study.
What does the text mean?
This stage of learning involves inferring things from the text beyond what it says. While it is easy to read a blog or listen to a sermon and get the answer, we want to use our own minds in this process. We do our best to answer, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. We look up cross-references to better answer the question, “what does this mean?”
How should this change me?
While we are now looking at how to apply the text to ourselves, this stage of learning is drawn from a God-centered perspective. We ask questions like- What does this teach me about God? Is there an example to follow? Is there a sin to avoid? Is there a promise to claim? While it is more natural for us to look at others and how the text would apply to them, we must apply the text to ourselves first and foremost. It is only after our own personal application that we are equipped to share how it works in the lives of others.
I AM HE
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I AM Study Introduction
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How this study will work
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