Tuesday 5 November 2013

John 6:35-51 - Bread, flesh, life

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John 6:35-51 continues the conversation about bread. The crowd are impressed by the way Jesus had fed so many with so little, and have asked him to give them this bread always. So he explains that he, himself is the bread that has come down from heaven. The religious leaders (John calls them 'the Jews') were unhappy to hear him say that he came down from heaven; they began grumbling about it.

And then Jesus adds, 'This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world'. And the grumbling went up a notch. The religious leaders couldn't understand how he would give them his flesh to eat. It sounds like cannibalism. It was abhorrent to them. It would break all sorts of Mosaic Law.

Jesus is saying that we must feed on him, not literally but spiritually. [Tweet it!] The manna that the Israelites ate in the desert saved their lives, yet they still eventually died. This spiritual bread on the other hand is sustenance that will save lives eternally.

So are we looking for ordinary bread that we buy in a shop or bake in an oven? Or are we looking, as the crowd did, for miraculous bread that becomes more and more as necessary? Or are we looking for what Jesus really offers, for the spiritual bread, his body, the bread that brings eternal life? He is the true bread that has come down from heaven like the manna. And he gives himself for us so that we may live.

If we are going to be his disciples we need to begin by understanding these mysterious truths. It's not just that he gives life or brings life, but truly he is life.

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