Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35)
It is interesting that in John’s Gospel there is no account of the Last Supper itself. John’s Gospel does talk about Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, teaching and praying; but there is no mention of bread and wine in chapter 13. But throughout John’s Gospel, the Eucharist is there in the many chapters that talk about Jesus as the bread of life and the true vine. About feeding on him and the importance of his blood. It’s here very clearly in chapter 6:
‘For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.’ (John 6:55)
We need more than just physical food, Jesus is telling us that we must feed the souls. When we feed on Jesus we feed our minds and our souls. We need spiritual food not just physical food.
When we come to church we get that kind of nourishment, in the songs we sing, in the profound liturgy we say, in the prayers, in the bible readings, in the sermon. In the sharing of communion with our church family and in the fellowship afterward.
But it’s not just on Sundays at Church that we can get spiritual nourishment. We can feed on the words of Jesus, by reading the Bible a little every day, by talking about our faith with others. We can feed on Jesus through praying together or by ourselves. We should never stop learning about God’s love, we should never stop feeding on Jesus.
‘I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me’ (v11)
Here Jesus is drawing on an image of God from the Old Testament, from an Old Testament Book called Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel about 600 years before the time of Jesus.
It says in Ezekiel:
For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. … I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.I will shepherd the flock with justice. (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 16)
Jesus is identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd building on this Ezekiel passage about God as the shepherd. Jesus is the fulfilment of this Ezekiel passage, in Jesus’ ministry we see him healing the sick and acting justly. But Jesus goes further than the Ezekiel passage by saying that the good Shepherd will lay down His life for His sheep.
Jesus tells us a hired hand is not willing to do that, faced with danger a hired shepherd will save themselves if a wolf attacks the sheep. Jesus laid down His life for the sheep because He is the Good Shepherd because He loves us.
It’s not what you know it’s who you know. And we know the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ. Who loves us so much that He was willing to lay down His life for us. So what can we do? Well in this chapter Jesus also talks about the sheep hearing His voice.
his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (v4)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (v16)
Our job then is to get better at hearing the voice of Jesus. Hearing what Jesus is saying to us in our lives. Relationships work best when you work on them. Keep listening out for the voice of Jesus in the Bible, through prayer, in church and with friends.