Read John 6:25-59
John dedicates the third section in chapter six to answer some questions and raise even more. Some of the crowd finally track Jesus down after His water-walking escape. They’re confused. Their motivation is for signs and wonders more than understanding the message. John records the highlights of the conversation which ends with a section that radically alters the view of religion. Take a deep breath. This is a heavy section.
Today’s story picks up in John 6:24 where the crowds realized that Jesus and the disciples somehow slipped away without any fanfare. They ask a logistical question, “when did you get here?”, but Jesus answers the deeper question that is on their hearts.
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. John 6:27
They pick up on the word “work.” This is a concept they can relate to, i.e., give them something to do and receive the reward. Right? Nope.
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29
We might scoff at their response, but oddly enough, it all sounds incredibly familiar in this day and age: show us a sign, do something special. They recall the story of Moses and manna and try to convince Jesus by using scripture. Jesus knows the story better than they do, so He begins to broaden their minds by providing a lesson that promises life to the world. This is exciting news!
At this point it seems like they are tracking with Jesus: “Sir, always give us this bread” (John 6:34). They want the bread of life until they find out what Jesus is talking about.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
Hang on, it gets deeper:
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. John 6:38
Now they’re totally confused. Isn’t this Joseph’s boy? You know, the carpenter’s son? What is this talk about coming down from heaven? And back up a few verses, what do you mean by “it is my Father?”
Jesus explains to them using a metaphor to build on their understanding of physical events:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
Their response reminds me of Nicodemus back in chapter 3,
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” John 6:52
Seriously? Are they missing the point? Ok, let’s go along with this line of argument and feed you with words to build upon their ignorance:
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. John 6:56
Like the private conversation with Nicodemus, they know Jesus is not talking about cannibalism. The words here hold deep meaning and require that they completely agree that Jesus is who He says He is. That, my friends, is too much for them to handle.
It turns out, it’s a hard pill for the disciples to swallow, but that’s covered in the next lesson.
The good news is presented here, Jesus is the way. We have the advantage of having the whole story presented to us in the form of the Bible, especially here in John’s gospel. John captures seven incredible truths for us to ponder:
- I am the bread of life: John 6:35
- I am the light of the world: John 8:12
- I am the gate for the sheep: John 10:7,9
- I am the good shepherd: John 10:11,14
- I am the resurrection and the life: John 11:25
- I am the way and the truth and the life: John 14:6
- I am the true vine: John 15:1,5
In the next post, I’ll attempt to wrap up chapter six and learn from all the lessons John is trying to teach us here.
Lord, help us to grasp the essence of what is said in this passage and give us the faith to fully believe. Fill the gaps between the large spans between these two extremes.