(Vs. 28) This question appears to be the language of men temporarily impressed and aroused but still in the dark concerning communion with God end life eternal. It is the old self-righteousness of natural men who are ever occupied with their own doing. They supposed that they had to do some good works for God in order to earn His favor and blessings. Salvation, the natural man believes, comes to those who earn it. Men want to make God the debtor and reckon the reward to be of works and not of grace. This is illustrated by the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18), the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2:37), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30).
(Vs. 29) Our Lord called them to a work they never thought of nor heard of FAITH, the owning and acknowledging of HIM to be the true Messiah, the embracing and receiving HIM as the only Redeemer, and trusting HIM with all the concerns of their souls. This is the ONE THING that God requires of sinners that they believe on the ONE Whom He has sent into the world to save. It is not the works of the law, nor the ceremonies of the temple, but faith in Christ that saves (Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:28; Rom. 4:20-25).
(Vs. 30-31) They thought it reasonable that He Who brought forth this new doctrine of faith (which they had never heard from their teachers, the Pharisees) should confirm His mission by signs. This was strange considering the fact that He had just fed over five thousand of them with five loaves and two fish. But if you will note Verse 31 carefully, they STILL HAD IN MIND an earthy, Jewish kingdom like the one led by Moses, whom they said fed our fathers forty years in the wilderness (Exo. 16:12-15; Psalm 78:24-25). They were exalting Moses. They may have been saying, "You fed five thousand but ONCE, but in Moses' day our fathers ate bread for forty years." We are interested in continual prosperity.
(Vs. 32) "You are mistaken in your opinion of that bread from heaven. It was not given to you by any power or virtue in Moses. It was My Father, not Moses, Who gave you that bread." Moses told them that in Exo. 16:15. Also, that bread was not the true spiritual bread but was called spiritual bread by Paul in I Cor. 10:3 in that it was typical of Christ. 'My Father not only gave that typical bread but HE GIVES YOU ME, Who am the true bread."
(Vs. 33) The bread of God is the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom the Father sent to redeem us from the curse of the law and death by sin. That typical bread had no power against even physical death. They all died in the wilderness who ate that bread; but Christ is the true bread, for He bestows eternal life! Also, ONLY ISRAEL ate of the manna: but Christ is the Saviour of the world a people from all nations.
(Vs. 34) "Lord, give us this bread." Their reply sounds much like the woman at the well, who said, "Give me that water, so that I won't have to come to this well and draw water." They still did not understand that He spoke of spiritual bread, spiritual life, and faith. They knew not God, understood not their sins, and had no need of a Redeemer (I Cor. 2:8-14). They were interested in health and wealth and a kingdom on earth!
(Vs. 35) "I AM the Bread of Life!" (John 4:25-26; John 8:24). "I am the bread that giveth spiritual and eternal life, and the bread that upholdeth and maintaineth life. I am the Messiah Whom God hath sent to quicken those dead in trespasses and sin." To "believe on Christ" is to receive God's testimony concerning His Son and to rest on Him alone for salvation (I John 5:10-13). To "come to Christ," which is the effect of believing, is for the heart to receive and embrace Him in loving confidence. The believer shall never hunger nor thirst; that is, he shall never need nor want anything necessary for spiritual life and eternal happiness (Col. 2:9-10).
(Vs. 36) Even the very sight of Jesus Christ in the flesh and the beholding of His wondrous miracles did not bring men to believe on Him. They heard Ills words and beheld works, which never any man did, yet they did not believe (Matt. 13:13-14; John 1:10-11). Was then His mission a failure? Did He come to earth in vain? (Rom. 3:3). There can be no failure with God, as our Lord shows in his next words.
(Vs. 37) Here the Lord Jesus speaks of a definite company of people who have been given to Him by the Father in an everlasting covenant of grace. In the face of their unbelief, He encourages Himself and rejoices in God's eternal election of grace (Matt. 11:24-27). He refers to this blessed company six times in John 17 (see Verses 2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24). Each one that the Father gave to Christ in eternity past comes to Him in time, as a lost sinner to be saved! He will never forget them, forsake them, nor cast them out (John 10: 24-30).