A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000-20,000 by Jesus included in all the gospels. The disciples did not understand the miracle and the provision of God in Christ as being our bread or sustenance in all things. Manna had been provided to the Israelites in Exodus. God said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4). The people had been grumbling to Moses about their new freedom from slavery ironically. God had provided the bread from heaven, yet the people just kept complaining until God annihilated the entire generation for rebellion against Him. The only safe haven is in the mercy of God’s provision.
Fast forward to John 6 and the feeding of the 5,000-20,000. Here God in Christ provides the bread bountifully through a little boy’s lunch. The crowd looks to Jesus for provision of material things in this miracle. So having preached Jesus sends the disciples across Galilee to Capernaum while He went up the mountain alone to pray.
Once together again in Capernaum, after Jesus miraculously carried their boat “immediately” across the lake, He addresses the 12 about the bread again. He lectures them of their material orientation telling them to look for eternal things. They ask Him what they must do to do the works God requires. ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent’ (John 6:29). Jesus now prepares them to understand the whole bread thing. He tells them that the manna was bread from heaven and that God is giving them “true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never grow hungry, and he who believes will never grow thirsty” (John 6:32-35). The Jews were grumbling again after Jesus tells the Jews assembled that believing in Him would bring eternal life. He tells them that He is “The living bread.” He says that if you eat this bread “you will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world.” Jesus is speaking of communion with Him.
This very dramatic representation is not usually read for Holy Communion services. In John 6:53-54 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” He is speaking of believing in Him as life and life eternal. It is not saying that just eating this communion brings eternal life. We need to receive and believe.
Jesus continues His teaching telling them and us today that “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe” (John 6:63-64). God is saying that trusting in Jesus as God through His Spirit filling brings life, and apart from Him you are nothing as John 15 says.
Therefore, what is Holy Communion? It is remembering what Jesus has done for you and reclaiming your faith in His life, death and resurrection for your life. Remember when the two men walking to Emmaus witnessed Jesus breaking the bread and giving thanks? Their eyes were immediately opened and they recognized Him. Trust in the “Bread of Life” for your salvation today.