We feed on Christ who literally became flesh and blood and literally poured out His life unto death. We feed through faith and that as a gift of God (John 6:36-39, 65; cf. John 1:12-13; 20:31). In other words, it is through participation in Christ’s saving work that we have eternal life and will never die.
And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’ (John 6:35, NKJV)
Bread can take a bad rap. It is a Trojan horse for carbs, anathema in some diets. A missionary friend in France told me that what we call bread doesn’t even qualify. But bread is ordinarily thought of as a staple to life. Prisoners get bread and water. Snowstorms send people to the grocery store for bread and milk.
When Jesus describes Himself as the bread of life, He is pointing to Himself as a staple for sustaining life. But He is saying much more.
After feeding 5000-plus people by multiplying five loaves of barley bread, Jesus brings up the subject of bread with the crowd following Him. He tells them not to work for bread that sustains physical life but to seek bread that offers eternal life. The people turn the topic to manna, the bread from heaven that sustained ancient Israel in their wilderness wanderings. Jesus uses that prompt to identify Himself as the true bread from heaven (John 6:32). He then says: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Jesus is true bread in that He is the actual and eventual source of life given by the Father and anticipated by the manna. People who ate manna died. People who eat the true Bread from heaven will never die (John 6:51).