What Did Jesus Mean When He Said He Was the Bread of Life?

When Jesus spoke to the crowds in John 6:35, He declared Himself to be the Bread of Life. This statement puzzled many of His listeners. What did Jesus mean by this metaphor?

The Historical Context:

To understand Jesus’ statement, we need to understand the historical context. At the time, bread was a staple food in Israel and was essential for survival.

People would bake bread daily or purchase it from local bakeries. Bread represented life itself and was a fundamental part of Jewish culture.

The Significance of Bread in Jewish Culture:

In Jewish culture, bread had deep spiritual significance as well. During Passover, the Jewish festival celebrating their freedom from slavery in Egypt, they would eat unleavened bread as a reminder of their hasty escape from slavery when they did not have time to let their bread rise.

In addition, during the wilderness journey, God fed the Israelites with manna from heaven, which sustained them for forty years. The manna was referred to as “bread from heaven” and was seen as a miraculous provision by God.

What Did Jesus Mean?

With this context in mind, we can begin to understand what Jesus meant when he said He was the Bread of Life. He wasn’t saying that He literally was bread; rather, He was using bread as a metaphor for His role in our lives.

Jesus is the Bread of Life because just as physical bread sustains our bodies and keeps us alive physically, Jesus is what sustains us spiritually and keeps us alive eternally. When we accept Him into our hearts and lives, we are filled with His presence and nourished by His love.

The Deeper Meaning:

Jesus also meant that just as physical food needs to be eaten regularly for sustenance, so too must we regularly commune with Him through prayer and reading His Word for spiritual sustenance. He is the source of our spiritual nourishment and without Him, we cannot thrive.

In addition, just as bread is broken and shared, Jesus’ body was broken for us on the cross, and His sacrifice is what provides us with eternal life. When we partake in communion, we are reminded of this sacrifice and our need for His sustenance.


In conclusion, when Jesus said He was the Bread of Life, He was using a metaphor to communicate His role in our lives as our spiritual sustenance. Just as physical bread sustained the Israelites in the wilderness and keeps us alive physically today, Jesus sustains us spiritually and gives us eternal life. Let us remember to regularly commune with Him through prayer and reading His Word to be filled with His presence and love.