Don't Choke on the Bread

Reading Time: 2 mins

Jesus reveals to them again who He is. And that life can only be given when we feed on Christ.

I’ve always been a fast eater. So much so, that I had to learn to pace myself on dates with my now wife, Katie, because I would be done with my meal, and she would just be seasoning her food. I think it started when I was in junior high. I would have to race all the way across campus to get in the back of a crazy long line for lunch – only to have 10 minutes to eat once I got my food before I had to rush back to class. As a kid, my mom would regularly tell me, “Slow down son, you’re gonna’ choke!”  At the risk of sounding like a therapy session, there’s a reason I share this. The Gospel of John could be summarized in one big sentence: Believe in Jesus Christ and have eternal life. In fact, John says as much at the end of his Gospel,

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

And yet, when we get to chapter 6, we find that the crowd and to some extent, even the Twelve, are having a hard time believing Jesus for who He is claiming to be. We know this because after feeding the 5,000, Jesus appears to his disciples walking on the water in the middle of the night and declaring to them,  “It is I; do not be afraid.” (John 6:20)  Literally translated it says, “No fear. I AM.” When we read Mark’s account of this story, we see that Jesus does that for them because, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:52) This event is sandwiched (pun intended) in between what is known as The Bread of Life Discourse. All of John 6 is about Jesus being The Bread of Life. The true food and drink that gives life in himself.  Jesus feeds the 5,000 just like God fed Israel in the wilderness with manna in Exodus 16. Jesus even goes on to tell them directly that he is the true bread of life come down from him. He is the true manna.(v.33-35) And yet they were missing it. In other words, they were choking on The Bread. can only be given when we feed on Christ.

It's interesting here what John is showing us, because he shows the struggle from different angles. There is Jesus’ private interactions with the Twelve, first in walking on water and calming the storm and later when he asks them if they were going to abandon him too. (v.16-21, 67) These guys were the ones that were with him all day every day and yet still missing it. (Just like us). And then there is the crowd. They have found their prophet who can feed their bellies, but they don’t have much interest in believing in him. They just want him to do more stuff. (Just like us) And Jesus calls them on it. (v.26) This is the warning for us in chapter 6 of John. Are we working for the food that perishes? Are we placing our hope, identity, and security in our own means, our self-righteousness, our name, our reputation? Or are we coming to Jesus like beggars because He is the one with true bread and true drink? Are we coming because He is the source of eternal life, and He is the only one who can satisfy?

The chapter ends with a gut punch. Jesus reveals to them again who He is. And that life can only be given when we feed on Christ. But it’s too much for most of them and they walk away. 

After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:66) 

They choked on The Bread. And yet hear the cry from Peter when Jesus asked The Twelve if they were going to leave him too. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68) John beautifully lays it out for us here. The table is set. True bread and true drink are before you. Where else are you going to go? Sit down, take your time, eat slowly and savor. Don’t choke on the bread.