The first of Jesus’ great “I Am Sayings,” is perfectly suited for the moment in which it was spoken. Jesus declared “I am the Bread of Life,” in the Capernaum synagogue during the people’s Passover observance. Don’t miss the significance of this. During the festival in which the people were steeped in Scriptures and lessons concerning God’s miraculous deliverance of his people from captivity and the provision of bread in the wilderness Jesus declared that he was the bread their souls required.
Hearing Jesus’ words, the religious authorities responded with “grumbling,” which is itself a reminder of the Exodus peoples’ grumbling so many generations before. The Hebrews in the wilderness grumbled because they desired something other than manna. Now, the religious leaders grumbled because they did not want Jesus, the Bread from Heaven. Jesus rebuked them for their grumbling and then explained that the glad reception of the Bread of Life was the result of the unseen hand of God’s gracious providence: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (vs. 44).
This passage contains some of the clearest words in all of Scripture concerning God as the Sovereign Actor in the salvation of his people. There is no salvation unless God graciously and inexorably draws sinners to himself. And God’s grace is sufficient. That is, God’s grace needs no supplementing. His call is effective. When God graciously calls sinners to himself they will respond in faith (vs. 47). And those whom the Father graciously calls to himself will never be cast away: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (vs. 37).