"Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:46-51
At the beginning of these passages, Jesus declares His deity to His Jewish audience. No man can look directly on God and live. God told Moses "...for no man shall see My face and live....", and because of that He had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock and cover him with His hand while He passed by, thus revealing only His back parts. Anytime Scripture declares that man saw God and lived, it is speaking of a masked version of revelation. Man can only see God if God hides His full glory; otherwise, man would die. God is too holy for sinful, mortal man to look directly upon Him. In light of this, Christ declares His own deity and purity by saying that He has seen the Father.
As the sinless substitute for sin, Christ declares that all who will put saving faith in Him will be delivered from eternal death. He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life." Man, in his desire to make salvation dependant upon his own goodness, has complicated and perverted the gospel by mixing it with works. Christ gives us here the simplest form of the gospel. Anyone who is willing to acknowledge their sinful condition and turn to Him for forgiveness will be delivered. Man cannot earn, work out, or buy his redemption. The work of redemption is complete in Christ.
"I am that bread of life." As one would partake of physical food in order to live, so must he spiritually partake of Christ through saving faith. To partake of Christ as the living bread is much more than mental ascent. One can acknowledge that Christ is the Son of God and that He gives life, but for this knowledge to do a person good he must partake of Christ through repentance and faith. To partake of the living bread is to acknowledge what God has declared to be true concerning mankind. Those who partake of Christ have come before Him in humble acceptance that they are sinners and that He alone is holy and worthy of worship.
However, the Jewish audience was not interested in hearing about their need to bow the knee to Christ as the Messiah. They were holding onto their lineage and their religious rituals. This is why Christ says, "Your fathers did manna in the wilderness and are dead." They had originally tried to use this past event to challenge Jesus earlier in this chapter, therefore, Christ points out to them that the physical manna did not bring about any time of efficacious work for those who ate it. Most of the people who were fed with manna in the wilderness died as unbelievers. God fed them with manna in order to meet their physical needs for food and to declare His power and might, yet most of the Israelites were ungrateful and died in the desert during the forty years of wandering. Jesus is pointing out here that a man is not spiritually profited through some physical act but rather he is profited only by his heart attitude toward God. Many of the fathers that that these people held up so high were dead and in hell. Consider Hebrews, "But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
The gospel was preached to the children of Israel, they partook of the manna, and yet many did not enter into the Holy Land because they refused to believe God. The manna did not give spiritual life to any of them, nor did they impress God simply because they ate of it. Those who believed God still died, and those who did not believe God died as well and went to a lost eternity. The physical and the ritual can never work salvation. Thus Catholicism and every other form of manmade religion which puts stock in the saving power of physical acts, relics and rituals is of the devil. Christ, and Christ alone is the Bread of Life. Jesus did not allow these people to believe for a minute that He was impressed with the fact that they were the children of men who ate bread from heaven. Their fathers were rebellious and so were they. They needed to cease from holding onto their lineage and begin exercising the fear of God in their lives. People today do the same thing. They think God is impressed with the fact that dad was a preacher or that mom taught Sunday School and saw God's blessing on her life, but none of these things will cover sin or make up for one's own rebellion and wickedness.
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." He is living bread. Everything about Christ bespeaks life. Those who trust in Him will have eternal life and the Christian who lives their life in Him will have a life filled with the fruits of Spiritual Life. Christ ends these verses by declaring His humanity. God became man and gave His human body for the sins of a human. No other substitute but a human substitute could ever be sufficient. Thus it is; all who will be honest with themselves and acknowledge what they are before God can find forgiveness and life in the Living Bread.