Jesus is the Bread from Heaven (John 6:24-35) Sunday School Lesson

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Have some bread! In this day of gluten-free, carb friendly diet consciousness, we might lose sight of how essential bread has been historically to life. It is a food staple that sees variations throughout time and culture, but which nourishes and strengthens us physically. Understanding that Jesus is our “bread” reminds us that He provides what we need for spiritual strength and health. We need more than just food to survive in life. We need Jesus!

Lesson focus: Jesus calls Himself the bread of life. This means that we rely on Him for all things, and that He spiritually nourishes us. This lesson focuses on what it means that God provides for us, and has given us the most life-fueling treasure in Jesus Christ. Students will consider the questions and behavior of people during the time of Jesus, as well as the Old Testament Israelites.

Passage: John 6:22-40; Exodus 16

Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (Adjustable according to audience)

Materials Needed: Bread; milk; food coloring; paint brushes; paper bags; construction paper; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; Bibles

More Teaching Ideas:

Game Ideas and Lesson Introduction

Lesson Opening: Start off with some activities to open up the “bread theme.” There are several fun options you could use for this, so choose one or two that work best for your audience. Here are some suggested ideas:

  • Bread shuffle relay: Split students into two teams. Have the groups line up and take turns racing across the room and back, with a “bready” twist! Have students balance slices or loaves of bread on their heads or on their feet as they make their way across the room.
  • Sandwich challenge: select one student to be blindfolded. Have the other students guide them through the process of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, using only the sound of their instructions. This could also be done as a race between two teams.
  • If time allows, bring in bread dough and allow students to mold and shape it into rolls or small loaves. Bake the bread to sample at the end of class.
  • Watch a video or look at a book describing the process of making bread, beginning with wheat and ending with a final product.
  • Consider how cultures around the world consume different types of bread in various ways.
  • Create an experiment to observe how mold forms. Place slices of bread in Ziploc bags, some with water and some without. Hang the slices in various places and return the next week to see what has happened! (Best for older groups.)
  • Put Jesus first! Identify how most dishes that include bread (pizza, sandwiches, etc.) begin with the bread component and add other things. We have to start our lives with Jesus first and foremost, and then add other things. He is the bread of life!

Ask students what kind of bread they prefer. What do they use bread for? Have they ever made it from scratch? Why is bread so important? Explain that today’s Bible story has to do with bread…but not the kind they might think!

Sunday School Lesson (John 6:22-40; Exodus 16) Jesus is Bread from Heaven

Bible Lesson:  This passage is one that can be approached in one of several ways. You might merely read it directly from your preferred Bible translation. For older students, you could also make a conversation out of the interaction between Jesus and the crowds, dividing your group of students into two sides. Or you might wish to have students take turns reading a verse or two each. As you go through the story, pause to explain what is happening and to ask clarifying questions.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” -John 6:25-27

Set a little background for the students. Not long before this, Jesus had performed an amazing miracle by feeding a huge crowd with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. He tried to get away to another spot, but the crowds followed Him. Here, Jesus calls out the group. They want to follow Him for a meal ticket! He warns them that they should seek a different kind of food.

Ask: What do you think Jesus is talking about when He tells the people to work for food that “endures to eternal life”? What might that mean?

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
-John 6:28-31

The first answer didn’t quite satisfy the crowds. Now they question what they need to do. But they missed the point! Believing Jesus isn’t about anything we do; it’s about who He is. The people wanted a task list. They wanted visible signs and miracles. They wanted works. Jesus wanted to let them know that they should trust HIM, not things He did.
The next thing brought up is how God provided the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.
*Note: if students are not familiar with this story, provide a quick review of Exodus 16. The Israelites had just escaped Egypt, and were forced to wander in the wilderness. God took care of His people and sent manna from Heaven to provide them with nourishment.

 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
-John 6:32-34

Jesus is making an amazing connection here. He first emphasizes where the manna came from: it came from God the Father, who provides what we need. He then explained that God had sent a new bread from Heaven: Jesus Himself! However, the people still didn’t quite understand…

Ask: Have you ever had a hard time understanding a difficult concept? What do you do when you’re not sure of what something means?

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” -John 6:35-40

Unfortunately, the crowds still failed to fully comprehend who Jesus was and what He came to do. Christ made things pretty clear, but a lot of people at His time missed it. It was like they tried to make a sandwich with no bread! They missed the main point! But we don’t have to do the same. We recognize that Jesus is the foundation of our lives. He wants to give us what we need to be healthy and “fed” spiritually. He has given His very life for us, and we know we can trust in His word.

Ask: How can we have “spiritual food”? (Read our Bibles, pray, go to church, etc.)

We also recognize that God will take care of us. We have Jesus, and we can trust Him to give us what we need. We might still have physical hunger, but we know He will bless us spiritually, in this life or the next. Never forget Christ’s words in Matthew:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:31-34

Craft: Have fun with some “carbohydrate-rich” crafts! Bread makes a fun platform for artistic creativity. Select one that works well with your timing and student abilities. A few to consider include:

  • A paper weaving “bread basket.”
  • “Brown Bag Bread” including paper “slices” with reminders of how Jesus nourishes us.
  • “Painted Bread”: use food coloring and milk to brush paint on slices of bread or toast; then enjoy a colorful snack!
  • Bread play-doh: Use white bread as modeling clay. Squish it into pieces and create shapes.
  • Bird feeders: Cut shapes out of old bread; spread peanut butter on them and dip into bird seed to hang for birds.
  • Bread beads: mix bread crumbs with glue and mold into shapes; allow to dry.

Close with prayer and thank God for providing us with all that we need in life. Most importantly, thank God for the nourishing fuel of Christ’s love and presence.  

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