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33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.


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33. For the bread of God. Christ reasons negatively from the definition to the thing defined, in this manner: “The heavenly bread is that which hath come down from heaven to give life to the world In the manna there was nothing of this sort; and, therefore, the manna was not the heavenly bread.” But, at the same time, he confirms what he formerly said, namely, that he is sent by the Father, in order that he may feed men in a manner far more excellent than Moses. True, the manna came down from the visible heaven, that is, from the clouds; but not from the eternal kingdom of God, from which life flows to us. And the Jews, whom Christ addresses, looked no higher than that the bellies of their fathers were well stuffed and fattened in the wilderness.

What he formerly called the bread of heaven, he now calls the bread of God; not that the bread which supports us in the present life comes from any other than God, but because that alone can be reckoned the bread of God 144144     “Pain de Dieu.” which quickens souls to a blessed immortality. This passage teaches that the whole world is dead to God, except so far as Christ quickens it, because life will be found nowhere else than in him.

Which hath come down from heaven. In the coming down from heaven two things are worthy of observation; first, that we have a Divine life in Christ, because he has come from God to be the Author of life to us; secondly, that the heavenly life is near us,

so that we do not need to fly above the clouds or to cross the sea,
(Deuteronomy 30:12, 13; Romans 10:6-8;)

for the reason why Christ descended to us was, that no man could ascend above.

34. Give us always this bread. There is no doubt that they speak ironically, to accuse Christ of vain boasting, when he said that he was able to give the bread of life. Thus wretched men, while they reject the promises of God, are not satisfied with this evil alone, but put Christ in their room, as if he were chargeable with their unbelief.

35. I am the bread of life. First, he shows that the bread, which they asked in mockery, is before their eyes; and, next, he reproves them. He begins with doctrine, to make it more evident that they were guilty of ingratitude. There are two parts of the doctrine; for he shows whence we ought to seek life, and how we may enjoy it. We know what gave occasion to Christ to use those metaphors; it was because manna and daily food had been mentioned. But still this figure is better adapted to teach ignorant persons than a simple style. When we eat bread for the nourishment of the body, we see more clearly not only our own weakness, but also the power of divine grace, than if, without, bread, God were to impart a secret power to nourish the body itself. Thus, the analogy which is traced between the body and the soul, enables us to perceive more clearly the grace of Christ. For when we learn that Christ is the bread by which our souls must be fed, this penetrates more deeply into our hearts than if Christ simply said that he is our life

It ought to be observed, however, that the word bread does not express the quickening power of Christ so fully as we feel it; for bread does not commence life, but nourishes and upholds that life which we already possess. But, through the kindness of Christ, we not only continue to possess life, but have the beginning of life, and therefore the comparison is partly inappropriate; but there is no inconsistency in this, for Christ adapts his style to the circumstances of the discourse which he formerly delivered. Now the question had been raised, Which of the two was more eminent in feeding men, Moses or Christ himself? This is also the reason why he calls it bread only, for it was only the manna that they objected to him, and, therefore, he reckoned it enough to contrast with it a different kind of bread The simple doctrine is, “Our souls do not live by an intrinsic power, so to speak, that is, by a power which they have naturally in themselves, 145145     “Qu’elles ayent en elles naturellement.” but borrow life from Christ.”

He who cometh to me. He now defines the way of taking this food; it is when we receive Christ by faith. For it is of no avail to unbelievers that Christ is the bread of life, because they remain always empty; but then does Christ become our bread, when we come to him as hungry persons, that he may fill us. To come to Christ and to believe mean, in this passage, the same thing; but the former word is intended to express the effect of faith, namely, that it is in consequence of being driven by the feeling of our hunger that we fly to Christ to seek life.

Those who infer from this passage that to eat Christ is faith, and nothing else, reason inconclusively. I readily acknowledge that there is no other way in which we eat Christ than by believing; but the eating is the effect and fruit of faith rather than faith itself. For faith does not look at Christ only as at a distance, but embraces him, that he may become ours and may dwell in us. It causes us to be incorporated with him, to have life in common with him, and, in short, to become one with him, (John 17:21.) It is therefore true that by faith alone we eat Christ, provided we also understand in what manner faith unites us to him.

Shall never thirst. This appears to be added without any good reason; for the office of bread is not to quench thirst, but to allay hunger. Christ therefore attributes to bread more than its nature allows. I have already said, that he employs the word bread alone because it was required by the comparison between the manna and the heavenly power of Christ, by which our souls are sustained in life. At the same time, by the word bread, he means in general all that nourishes us, and that according to the ordinary custom of his nation. For the Hebrews, by the figure of speech called synecdoche, use the word bread for dinner or supper; and when we ask from God our daily bread, (Matthew 6:11,) we include drink and all the other parts of life. The meaning therefore is, “Whoever shall betake himself to Christ, to have life from him, will want nothing, but will have in abundance all that contributes to sustain life.”




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