[Jesus was saying to them] “Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (John 6: 50,51 NLT)
When you read John 6, you definitely don’t see a picture of Jesus trying to win followers with an “ear tickling” message. In fact, we find that as a result of some of the things he said to the people that day; many stopped following him. He began to speak of “eating his flesh,” and “drinking his blood,” and it freaked a lot of folks out. But really, God had provided hints of all of this that first Christmas night when Jesus was born.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. And do you know what the word Bethlehem means? It means “house of bread.” Let’s go a bit further. We are told that on the night of Jesus’ birth he was laid in a manger. And a manger is where the animal’s food was placed. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I believe that God was giving some clues in how and where Jesus was born. The child that lay in the manger that night in Bethlehem is the “food” God has provided for man to eat resulting in eternal life.
In John 6, the people reminded Jesus that Moses had given them manna to eat when they had come out of Egypt and wondered through the desert. The Jews that heard Jesus speak that day in John 6 were an oppressed people, suffering under the hands of the Roman Empire, and they were trying to manipulate Jesus into giving them bread under the pretense of “just wanting to believe.” Jesus told them that though their fathers had eaten the manna, they had nevertheless died. He corrected them by saying, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the [O]ne who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” He continued with, ““I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again…”
Listen, if all Jesus is, if all Christmas is to you is the little baby born in Bethlehem that night long ago, you have missed it. The Son became flesh so that you might participate (“eat my flesh” and “drink my blood”) in the very life of God. He was born in Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” and placed in a manger from which the animals ate their food, and he now invites you to come and partake of him so that you may live.