Tag Archives: bread of life

EAT me?

As we continue to read John 6 (this week, John 6:35 and 6:41-51), we see the crowd arguing.  First comes the old complaint: He can’t be special, he comes from our neighbourhood, and we know him.  Some people still take offence at the idea, not just that Jesus is special, but that he is much more than “one of us”, and one who must be followed and obeyed.

Verses 44 and 45 gives us two sides of a puzzle.  God must draw people to Christ and belief, yet any who want to find truth can be sure of help.  Each side is helpful – we need to understand that some people will not hear, but also that none who want to learn are refused.

The “bread of life” is one of the important “I am” sayings.  It would be dangerous and wrong to make it a magical understanding of receiving Holy Communion, and equally wrong to ignore the connection to the service in which we give thanks (“eucharist”) above all for the sacrifice of Jesus death and the triumph of his resurrection – the central points of faith.  We do that with more than words, with action, and by eating.

Is it just eating? No. To gobble stolen consecrated bread would be of no advantage.  It is about feeding on Jesus – through his teaching, his life, understood, obeyed, absorbed by the power of the Holy Spirit into our life, transforming from within the person.  What is eaten becomes part of me, provides energy, rebuilds my body, alters my mood.  Eating together with other believers brings us together, as sharing a meal always does.  With them we worship, becoming more like what we hold worth praising, and give thanks (remembering how much there is to be thankful for), and by our prayers try to work with God and with one another.

Jesus gives everything for us.  We are invited to receive what he gives, to let it become part of us, to change us, to energise and direct us.  Never a mere ritual, an act of personal worship may assist and advance the process.

Wrong reaction!

It wasn’t just a free lunch, it was a sign!  The story we started last week continues (John 6:24-35).  The crowd find Jesus again on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Having seen his healings, and eaten the food provided, we might hope that they see the point – but no!

The reading explains how easily this can go badly wrong! Jesus had fed the 5,000, the gathering of leftovers pointing to a great miracle. He had resisted being made King. Now, when the crowd catch up with him again, he tries to point them in the right direction – not to another free lunch, nor to revolutionary politics, but to the life and gifts of God.

They ask, “What must we do?”, and Jesus wants them to believe. He can tell them and lead them, but they must listen and learn. Sadly, the motivation is lacking. “Why should we bother with you?” “What proof do you offer?” (the lunch has been forgotten quickly) “We have Moses . .” There are plenty of retorts, but little understanding.

Jesus points out that it wasn’t Moses who gave manna in the wilderness, but God. God, who gives life, and Jesus the bread of life. Do they want what only God can give, or not?  You can see the offer, but also that it is not going smoothly. That story will be continued.

Take a moment to recognise the different responses of Jesus’ disciples and the crowd among people you know. For some their response to what God gives is: “How can I get more for myself?” “Why should I bother to do as Jesus says, or try to behave like him?”   Others are ready to receive and learn. We are supposed to be those who know, and do, better.