John recorded seven “I am” sayings from Jesus in the Gospel to communicate the person of Jesus Christ. The first is in John 6:35.
The context of this first statement is actually two-fold. First, Jesus declares this about Himself on the heels of the feeding of the 5,000 as some of the Jews continued to seek from Him a sign. Second, Jesus’ description of Himself as the “bread of life” has a more specific context in that the Jews questioning Him have referred to God giving their fathers manna in the wilderness. The context of this statement continues in that the Jews continue to question how Jesus will give them His flesh (v. 52).
Jesus identified Himself as the “Bread of Life” to underscore several truths about Himself.
(1) In Him, not His signs was (and is) life. (2) In Him was eternal life in contrast to the temporary nature of the bread that had been offered in the feeding of the 5,000 as well as the temporary nature of the manna in the wilderness.
Finally, it should be noted that this is the primary passage that gives Catholics their understanding of the mass and communion. In response to the Catholic viewpoint, I would simply argue that John showed the Jews to be misguided in their understanding that Jesus spoke literally at this point. The seven sayings together give adequate proof that most of the “I am” sayings are figurative. No one believes that Jesus said that He is literally a gate. He is like a gate. Second, if Jesus would have meant for this statement to be taken in connection with communion, I feel certain that we would have reference to such an idea at the Last Supper.
Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com.