49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.
The section running from verse 49-51 is a conclusion to verses 41-50 and an introduction to verses 52-59 (a new view of the gift of Jesus’ death). Jesus here told about the destiny of those who believe in Him.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness,
Jesus harked back to the very words of the Jews themselves. The ancestors of the Jews ate manna as a provision for temporary physical life. Manna met only a limited need of the temporary physical life. Jesus now emphasized the eating idea.
and are dead.
Manna was for this life only. Ultimately those who ate manna died because it was only a provision for temporary physical life. Having echoed the Jews’ reference to manna in the Old Testament, Jesus drew a stark comparison between death then and eternal life now. Manna could not sustain life without end. The message of the manna was empty.
This is the bread which comes down [came down] from heaven,
The nature of bread that Jesus offered was of a different ilk. He came from an eternal, preexistent state in the presence of the Father. The Jews came from a physical descent, but Jesus came from an eternal descent.
that one may eat of it and not die.
Jesus used “eat” as a metaphor for believe. There is no death to those who partake by faith of the bread that Jesus offered. Eating is the act of appropriating what Jesus offers. The appropriation is executed by faith.
There is a striking contrast between manna in the Old Testament and Jesus as the living bread. “Not die” is an assertion of eternal security. There is an unending continuity of no death when one believes in Christ. This person will “live forever,” as the next verse says.
Knowing truth is one thing, appropriation of truth is another.
There is a difference between what man offers and what God gives. It is a difference between life and death. If a person appropriates by faith what Christ offers, then God instantaneously gives him eternal life.
The table may be spread but the food does us no good until we eat of it. It is not until we personally appropriate what God offers that we can receive what God offers.