After Jesus feeds a crowd of 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, the people come back to Jesus the next day looking for more food. He chides them to not work for bread that perishes, but that the food that the Son of Man will give them will give eternal life. The crowds agree that they desire this bread and ask for Jesus to give it to them. 

It is at this moment that Jesus declares I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and that He has come down from heaven to do the will of His Father. The people began to murmur at this statement, unsure how to react. Jesus takes this moment to emphasize His previous statement. He solemnly states,  I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (John 6:48-51). 

Using words and phrases like Amen, Amen… I am…. The bread that I will give is my flesh, Jesus is making sure that we understand He is not using symbolic language. The reaction of the Jews indicates this as well. They started getting angry and quarreling about how Jesus could possibly say this. As a result, large crowds left Him as well as many disciples who had followed Jesus for years. Jesus then challenges those who were left, the Apostles, and asks if they also want to leave. Led by Peter, they respond not in understanding, but that Jesus has the words of eternal life so there is nowhere else to go. 

In reading this passage two things are very clear. First, Jesus meant what He said when he stated, I am the bread of life. He has many opportunities to clarify that it is only a symbolic statement, however at each opportunity He emphasizes the truth in His statement. Second, Peter and the Apostles give us the key to belief in the Eucharist. Even if we find it hard to believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God then we have to trust His words, even if they seem crazy.  For the Apostles, it is only later in receiving the Eucharist, learning of Jesus’ passion, and experiencing sharing in the Eucharist of the early Church community that they come to fully understand the words of Jesus from the Bread of Life Discourse. Faith led them to experiential understanding, and the same will happen for us as long as we take Jesus at His word.

Originally published in Prime Soil Magazine | Vol. 1 No. 2

Originally presented at The 10th National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024



At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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