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John 6:22-40 Study Guide: I am the Bread of Life

Community Group Study Guide — I am the Bread of Life
John 6:22-40

Study Information:
In our last section we learned that the crowd was following Jesus because they saw the signs he did with healing the sick. This crowd came to Jesus with expectations that he was some sort of prophetic miracle worker. Jesus was bigger than their expectations. We learned that he took them through a physical crisis to demonstrate their spiritual need. Jesus taught this crowd for a long time out in the middle of nowhere and the crowd developed a physical hunger and could not just go home without the danger of fainting on the way. Jesus brought them to a place where they’d realize their physical hunger and he used that to communicate to them their spiritual hunger and need to be satisfied in him. In our text for this study guide, Jesus explains that in greater detail and connects it to a core aspect of who he is: the one who gives life to those who hunger and thirst. 

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee to the town of Capernaum and the crowd followed him over there the next day. Upon seeing the crowd, Jesus once again addressed their motives saying they were only following him because they ate their fill of the bread (John 6:26). They had experienced the signs of Jesus firsthand but had missed the point of the signs. Jesus truly did care about their physical needs, just like he cares about our physical needs, however these signs were meant to communicate something greater about our spiritual needs and the crowd did not understand this yet.

One of the dangers we can face in our Christian life is “working for the food that perishes.” Jesus is not saying that we should be unconcerned about our physical needs, but that there is a temptation to overly focus on these things. This teaching is similar to what Jesus communicated about anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34. “Seeking first God’s kingdom” is to believe that he is our provider and that he is trustworthy. This crowd that experienced the feeding of the 5,000 was more concerned about their physical needs being met, and missed the sign’s point, that Jesus is the one who came to satisfy our spiritual needs. John 6:27 commands us to work for “food that endures to eternal life.” We do not need to wait long for Jesus to explain this to us because he tells us exactly what this means in verse 29, “the work of God is that we believe in him and whom he has sent.” God does not require you to do more, the work he requires is for us to believe. The signs were meant to lead to believing and believing leads to eternal life. If God was only concerned with their physical needs being met he could have sent more manna in the wilderness. Manna was the seed like substance the Israelites would find on the ground each morning as they wandered in the wilderness between being freed from Egypt and entering the promised land. God faithfully provided for them each morning. Jesus told this crowd that a better manna had come, true bread from heaven because he himself was the Bread of Life. Our soul hunger and thirst is satisfied in Christ (John 6:35). More than that, it is also fully secure. John 6:37 is one of the greatest statements in the chapter. All that the Father gives to the son will come to him and will never be cast out. The word “never” here was written in the original language (Greek) in such a way that it communicates something that can never happen, specifically that those who come to Jesus will never be turned away. It was like writing “never ever times infinity.” Something that is a practical impossibility. God is not on the verge of getting tired with us and looking for a way to cut his losses. Rather, God is steadfastly committed to his people and has shown us this in sending his son so that we may have life in his name. Jesus underscored this by talking about the “will of God” in verses 37-40. God’s will was to bring about restored relationship with the Father through the son’s life. Jesus will go on to explain this in the next section (John 6:41-59) but he will die so that they may live. The will of God is to raise up (resurrect to eternal life) all who believe in the son. 

Jesus is not looking for the crowd to do more, but rather to see the significance of the sign and to believe in God in a fuller and deeper way. God sent his son to give all who believe in him true and real life because he is the Bread of Life. Their physical hunger was a daily reminder of the life and satisfaction they can have through Jesus. The danger we face is to have our attention and focus overly drawn to physical things that are temporary and perishing. The signs that Jesus did met their physical needs and alleviated suffering and hunger but they were designed to  point to a deeper reality that the one who brings new creation has come and there is life in believing in him. Jesus is the Bread of Life. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

Read John 6:22-26. Why did the crowd follow Jesus and what were some of the obstacles they had to overcome to get to where he was? What do you think they were hoping to see or find?

Read John 6:27-40. What does it mean to “work for food that perishes?” What alternative does Jesus offer the crowd? 

How is it ironic that the crowd asks to see a sign? What sign did they point to and how did Jesus use that to talk about who he is and what he came to accomplish?

Look at verses 37-40. How does this passage define God’s will in relationship to sending Jesus? What comfort does verse 37 give you in your Christian life?