Shepherds’ Conference 2017 Session 4 Notes

Shepherds’ Conference 2017

Session 4

Ligon Duncan


John 6

Jesus: The Bread of Life


John here shows us our deepest need, and how we are blind to that need.

We need to study this and believe it for ourselves.

We need to be fed and refreshed by the word.

To feed only to feed others is an occupational hazard.

If we are not satisfied by the bread of life, we will poorly commend the bread of life.

This passage is not about the Lord’s Supper. It is about Jesus.

But the Lord’s Supper is very much about Jesus, and points to this passage.


John 6:22-59

Just fed the 5,000.

Jesus also walked on water.


A crowd pursuing Jesus while spiritually not understanding him

They are seeking, but not seeking for the right reason.

And we have Jesus’ message to them.

He stresses 3 things:


They needed to know what they really needed.

They are seeking him for the wrong reasons.

They are looking to him for the wrong things.

How practical is this?


Jesus in his reply is designed to teach them how to get what they need.

How do they appropriate what they need?


They need to understand who Jesus is, because he is the bread of heaven.

He is the sign.

He is the miracle, a far greater miracle than manna.


Jesus the bread of life is life and gives life by this death, and the life he gives is our deepest satisfaction, our eternal security, our salvation and communion.


3 things:

The bread that perishes in contrast to the bread of life (2-27)

The utter necessity of faith in the bread of life. (28-29)

The glory of Jesus as the bread of life. (30-ff)


The crowd wants another food miracle.

They hint at it in 30-31.

Jesus does not give this crowd what they are seeking.

He explains to them that they do not know what they need.


You’ve already seen signs.

They are there because they have seen a sign.

And they keep asking for a sign.

There is no lacking in miraculous manifestation in Jesus’ ministry to these folks.

Notice Jesus’ concern for their souls.

Crowds show up.

Jesus does not assume that the presence of crowds means that something good is happening.

How important is that for us?

We are all vulnerable to the calculation that when more come, good things are happening.

Narcissistic people in the ministry feed on this kind of stuff.

Jesus cares about the people’s souls.

He confronts them with their real need and their blindness to that need.


All sorts of people are following Christian ministries because they see Christ and the gospel as a ticket to what they really want, and it is not the bread of life.

This is not just out there in the charismatic world.

That can happen in our own people.

Why are they at church?

They want fellowship?

They want respectability?



The question reminds us of other places where people ask what to do to do the works of God.

What must I do to be saved? Acts 2

Jesus’ answer is remarkable.

He focuses them on faith.

This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.

Belief in him is of divine origin.

Philippians 2:13 stresses that God is at work in us for sanctification.

God must therefore be at work in our justification.


Faith is coming and eating, 2 things.

He who comes to me will not hunger.

He who believes in me will not thirst.

Coming to Jesus is believing in Jesus.


Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life.

That is designed to cause maximal offense.

Eating a sacrifice was not unheard of.

No Jew drank sacrificial blood.

Blood was forbidden.

So, the phrase, “drink my blood,” is designed to offend.

His point is that these are the constituent parts of a blood sacrifice, the flesh and blood.

Unless you put your full trust in me, you die.

We use eating imagery all the time.

We devour a good book.

We drink in a good lesson.

Jesus is saying that we need him more than we need food.

If you do not eat and drink Jesus, if you do not trust in his death, you will die like a starving and thirsting man dies without food and water.


Next, Jesus declares to them who he is.

He displays himself, in his glory, as the bread of life.


I am the bread of life.

This is very similar to how he described himself to the woman at the well in chapter 4.

The same thing happens in this passage.

They miss the deep level he is going to.

They want a miracle with bread.

He is the bread of life.

They want a miracle.

He is a miracle.

Manna pointed to Jesus.

He already fed 5,000 and walked on water yesterday.


Don’t ask me to show you something.

You have already seen signs and not believed.

You need me.


Why do you need me?


He who comes will not hunger.

Same language as with the woman at the well and water.

This is the language of satisfaction.

The root of every sin is our seeking satisfaction in something other than God.

That is original sin.

Satan convinced Eve that there was something to satisfy outside of God.

The people wanted bread to satisfy apart from Jesus.

Jesus tells them that he is what they are made for.

He is the bread they need.



All the father gives me will come to me. The one who comes, I will certainly not cast out.

V39, I will lose none of what he gives me.

You come to me, you will not be lost. I will not lose you.


Great illustration of Psalm 119,

V1 says the one who follows the word is blessed.

175 verses declare how great it is to follow God.

V176 says I have gone astray and asks the Lord to come get me.


Back to John

V40, v50 a lot of live language.

V50, eat and not die.

Gen 2 and 3, eat and die.


V56, he who eats and drinks abides in me and I in him.

Jesus is the one true sacrifice.

His flesh and blood are given for the life of the world.

He came that we may have life.

How will he give us life?

He will lay down his life for his sheep.


That abiding language is the language of communion, not the ceremony, but real communion.

He tells them he is what they need.

They do not get it.

John 4 the woman starts off missing the point.

But she gets it.

She eats and drinks of his flesh and blood, she receives him, the water of life.