Lesson 65: John 6

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

The day after He miraculously fed a multitude of more than 5,000 people, Jesus taught that He is the Bread of Life. Some of His followers rejected His teachings and turned away from Him. In contrast, Peter testified that Jesus taught the words of eternal life and was the Son of God.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 6:1–21

Jesus miraculously feeds more than 5,000 people and walks on the sea

Explain that after the Savior testified of His divinity at Jerusalem (see John 5), He returned to Galilee, where He and His Apostles taught the gospel and healed many people (see Matthew 5–13). Jesus then crossed the Sea of Galilee with His disciples and miraculously fed a multitude of more than 5,000 people (see John 6:1–13).

Display a loaf of bread. Invite a student to summarize the account of the Savior feeding more than 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two small fish.

  • What might you have thought if you had been present for this miracle and learned that Jesus had the ability to miraculously provide food?

Ask a student to read John 6:14–15 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the people wanted to do after Jesus miraculously fed them.

  • What did the people want to do?

Explain that a tradition among the Jews at the time of Jesus suggested that when the Messiah or King of Israel came, He would feed people with bread from heaven.

  • According to verse 15, what did Jesus do rather than allow the people to crown Him as their king?

  • Why did Jesus not want to be acknowledged as the king of the Jews?

Summarize John 6:16–21 by reminding students that the Savior sent his disciples across the Sea of Galilee, and then late in the night as the disciples struggled to row against the waves and wind, Jesus walked across the sea to join them. Point out that John’s account of this event emphasizes that when the disciples “willingly” received Jesus into their ship, they “immediately” (verse 21) landed safely at their destination. Explain that as we willingly receive the Savior and His teachings, He can help guide us safely through the struggles of mortality.

John 6:22–59

Jesus teaches that He is the Bread of Life

Explain that John 6:22–25 records that many of the people whom Jesus had miraculously fed travelled to Capernaum seeking Him.

Invite a student to read John 6:26–27 aloud, including the Joseph Smith Translation (see verse 26, footnote a). Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus said to the people. Explain that the word meat in verse 27 refers to food.

  • According to the Savior, why did these people seek Him? (The Savior’s words suggest they had followed Him to obtain more food from Him.)

  • What did the Savior tell them they should be seeking?

Explain that the “meat [or food] which endureth unto everlasting life” (verse 27) can refer to the eternal truths of the Savior’s gospel.

  • How might these verses help us understand why Jesus did not allow this group of people to crown Him as their King?

Invite a student to read John 6:28–31 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the people desired of Jesus to further prove to them that He was the Messiah.

  • What did the people want Jesus to do for them? (Explain that manna was “bread from heaven” [verse 31] that God provided for the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness.)

  • Considering what the Savior did the previous day, what might this request indicate about the multitude?

  • As followers of Jesus Christ today, what are some ways we might be tempted to behave like the multitude?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from John 6:32–35, and ask the class to look for what the Savior taught the people in response to their request for a sign.

  • What did the Savior teach about Himself when He referred to manna, or bread from heaven?

You may want to suggest that students mark the phrase “I am the bread of life” in verse 35.

  • In what ways can we liken the Savior and His teachings to bread?

  • What do you think it means that those who come to Jesus Christ “shall never hunger”? (verse 35).

  • What truth can we learn from the Savior’s teachings in verse 35? (Although students may use different words, they should identify a principle similar to the following: If we come to Jesus Christ, He will nourish us spiritually. You may want to suggest that students write this principle in the margin of their scriptures next to John 6:35.)

Write the following incomplete statements on the board:

We come to Jesus Christ by …

He will nourish us by …

Divide students into pairs. Ask them to work together to make a list in their class notebooks or scripture study journals of some things we can do to come to Jesus Christ and ways He will nourish us spiritually. Invite a few students to report their responses to the class.

To help the class feel the truth and importance of the principle they identified in verse 35, consider inviting a few students to share how they have felt when they have received spiritual nourishment as they have come unto the Savior.

Summarize John 6:36–47 by explaining that some people murmured against the Savior because He taught that He was the bread that came down from heaven.

To prepare students to identify an additional principle the Savior taught, invite a few students to come to the front of the class and give them each a piece of bread. Invite them to smell the bread and imagine what it would taste like.

  • How well would this bread nourish you if you only smelled it, imagined how it tasted, and carried it with you all day?

  • What must you do to benefit from what the bread has to offer?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from John 6:49–54. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how their classmates’ experience with the bread can relate to what the Savior taught in these verses.

  • How is the Bread of Life different from regular bread? (Unlike the bread that can satisfy us only for a short time, Jesus Christ offers us blessings that will last forever.)

Point out the following phrase in verse 51: “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

  • How did the Savior offer his flesh and blood for the life of the world?

  • According to verses 53–54, what did the Savior teach the people to do?

Explain that the Savior used the terms eating and drinking symbolically. To help the class understand the Savior’s teachings, invite the student volunteers to eat the bread. Then invite them to return to their seats.

  • What happens to the bread and its nutrients when it is eaten? (The vitamins and nutrients become part of the body, giving it strength and good health.)

  • What do you think it means to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ? (It can mean to internalize His teachings and Atonement. It can also represent partaking of the sacrament, which the Savior would institute later.)

  • According to verse 54, what blessing can we receive if we internalize, or apply, the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we internalize, or apply, the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive eternal life.)

Ask students to ponder the following question, and then invite several of them to share their responses:

  • How do we internalize the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ? (Possible answers may include accepting Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God, partaking of the sacrament each week, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end in righteousness [see Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (1965–73), 1:358].)

Explain that eternal life is to live forever with and become like our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Invite a student to read John 6:56–57 aloud, and ask the class to look for how we can become like Them as we internalize the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ. Invite students to report what they find.

Explain that the Savior will not physically dwell in us, but rather His divine influence will remain with us to help us become more like Him and Heavenly Father.

Share your testimony of the truths students have identified. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a goal for how they will better internalize the Savior’s Atonement or one of His teachings.

John 6:60–71

Peter testifies that Jesus has the words of eternal life

Write the following question on the board: Continue or quit?

Ask students to think of a time when they had to choose between continuing to do something difficult or quitting. You might ask one or two students to share their experiences.

Explain that after Jesus gave the sermon recorded in John 6, His disciples faced a similar decision.

Invite a student to read John 6:60, 66 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the response of many of Jesus’s disciples to His teachings.

  • Why did many of Jesus’s disciples choose to stop following Him? (Explain that the phrase “an hard saying” [verse 60] means they felt Jesus’s teachings were too difficult to follow.)

  • Why do some people find it difficult to keep the Lord’s commandments?

Invite a student to read John 6:67 aloud, and ask the class to look for the question Jesus Christ asked His Apostles.

  • What did the Savior ask His Apostles?

Invite a student to read John 6:68–69 aloud, and ask the class to look for how Simon Peter responded to the Savior. Ask students to report what they find.

  • From Peter’s response, what truth can we learn that will help us remain faithful during times when it may be difficult to follow the Savior or live His teachings? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: A firm testimony of Jesus Christ will help us remain faithful during times when it may be difficult to follow the Savior or live His teachings.)

  • How has a firm testimony of the Savior helped you or someone you know remain faithful, even when the teachings of the gospel seemed hard to follow?

Encourage students to rely on their testimonies of Jesus Christ when the teachings of the gospel may be difficult for them to live. Invite students who may feel they lack a firm testimony of Jesus Christ to strengthen their testimony by seeking to internalize His teachings and Atonement.

Commentary and Background Information

John 6:33–35. The true Bread of Life

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life:

“I bear my witness of the living reality of the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, and of the infinite power and reach of His Atonement. Ultimately, it is His Atonement and His grace that is our daily bread” (“Recognizing God’s Hand in Our Daily Blessings,” Ensign, Jan. 2012, 23).

To learn more about how Jesus Christ used symbolism, Jewish religious history, and His listeners’ geographical location to teach His sermon on the Bread of Life (John 6), see Thomas R. Valetta, “The True Bread of Life,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 6–13; see also “John 6:32–35, 48–51. ‘The True Bread from Heaven,’” in New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 221–22.

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Manna was heavenly food; whereas the bread He had given them was of earth, and only common barley bread at that. He must show them greater signs, and give them richer provender [or finer food], before they would accept Him as the One whom they at first had taken Him to be and whom He now declared Himself to be” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd. ed. [1916], 339–40).

John 6:53. “Eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“To eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God is, first, to accept him in the most literal and full sense, with no reservation whatever, as the personal offspring in the flesh of the Eternal Father; and, secondly, it is to keep the commandments of the Son by accepting his gospel, joining his Church, and enduring in obedience and righteousness unto the end. Those who by this course eat his flesh and drink his blood shall have eternal life, meaning exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:358).

John 6:56. “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what the phrase “dwelleth in me, and I in him” means:

“Since those who are one think and believe and act alike, they thus possess the same characteristics and attributes. … Hence, in a figurative sense they are in each other, or they dwell in each other” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:766).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

John 6:30–50. “I am the bread of life”

To help students understand what the Savior taught about Himself when he referred to manna, copy the following chart on the board and ask students to copy it in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Divide students into pairs. Ask them to read John 6:30–35, 47–50 aloud with their partners and to write in the column on the right what they learn about Jesus Christ. Then ask them to discuss with their partners how the Savior can be likened to manna.

Manna

Jesus Christ

(John 6:31) Manna is bread

(John 6:35)

(John 6:31) Manna came from heaven

(John 6:33)

(John 6:32) God gave Israel the manna

(John 6:32)

(John 6:49) Those who ate manna are dead

(John 6:50)

After sufficient time, ask students the following question:

  • What did the Savior teach about Himself when He referred to manna?

video iconJohn 6:51–54. Video Presentation—“Daily Bread: Change”

To help students understand the blessings of receiving and internalizing the Bread of Life (the Savior’s Atonement and teachings) consider showing the video “Daily Bread: Change” (3:00), in which Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discusses how the Atonement of Jesus Christ helps us to change. Ask students to listen for how Jesus Christ is the bread of eternal life and how His Atonement and teachings can bless our lives. This video is available on LDS.org.

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  • According to Elder Christofferson, how is Jesus Christ the bread of eternal life?

  • What are the blessings of receiving and internalizing the Savior’s Atonement and teachings?