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.