John 6:56-69 (NRSV)
Verse 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Verse 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. Verse 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." Verse 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
Verse 60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" Verse 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? Verse 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? Verse 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. Verse 64But among you there are some who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. Verse 65And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father." Verse 66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. Verse 67So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Verse 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. Verse 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
There is a saying that goes, “You are what you eat.” This usually refers to whether you eat healthy foods (and hopefully, enjoy good health) or eat unhealthy foods that can, over time, cause health problems. So for those able to eat bread daily, it’s better to eat fresh, whole-grain bread baked with enriched flour than deep-fried donuts with too much sweetener. That is one way in which bread can give life. But God gives what we need even more—the bread of life. In the gospel, Jesus compares his own body and blood to the bread and wine of the eucharist, that gives life forever. “This is the bread that came down from heaven”—not like the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness—“but the one who eats this bread will live forever.” It’s a hard teaching if taken literally. But as we come to the Lord’s Table for weekly eucharist and hear God’s Word of life, we hope and pray that we grow stronger in faith.
Lord, you give us the bread from heaven, your own flesh and blood, in the bread and wine that bring us life forever. Thank you for your promise, and help us to always receive this bread with faith. Amen.