John’s gospel is full of Jesus’ “I Am” statements. One of the first statements John records comes in John 6 and is connected to many stories. Let’s set up the scenario before we dive in.
Jesus performs a couple of miracles before he reveals a truth about who he is. Jesus fed a crowd of more than 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish. He then walked on water in front of his disciples. When he returns, the crowd he fed is still looking for him and they find him on the other side of the lake. Jesus tells them they are not looking for him because of his miracles, they just want the bread he gave them to eat. Jesus tells them about eternal bread and tells them that the Father gives this bread. The bread is the one who comes to give life (vv32-33).
The people ask Jesus for this bread, since they still are not understanding. So Jesus says in v.35, “I am the bread of life”. Jesus’ declaration is proof of everything he had said before. He is eternal life and he gives eternal bread or eternal life. This is why Jesus goes on to say we will never be hungry or thirsty when we come to him and believe (v.35), because he will give us eternal life.
This declaration is so important to Jesus that he repeats the truth 2 more times in v.48 and v.51 that he is the bread of life or living bread. Jesus also hyperlinks back to the story of Exodus when their ancestors ate manna in the wilderness. Jesus is now the bread that they must eat (believe in). They will not die if they believe in Jesus since he gives eternal life.
Jesus’ declaration that he is the bread is the gospel. He has come from heaven and is giving life to those who believe in him. Jesus will not lose those who have come to him and those who believe will be raised with him to eternal life.