Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
Yet again it seems as though Jesus is causing quite the stir. Not only does he talk about bread from heaven but then he claims that he IS that bread. According to Jesus, he is the bread of life. Now, this is just getting ridiculous. The claims are preposterous! What makes it even crazier is that this comes on the heels of healings, feeding of the five thousand and then he walks on water. Just when people seemed to be physically fed, Jesus claims that he can feed them even more.
This seems to not even really be the big point of Jesus’ discourse. Everything he lays out before us in this portion of chapter six is to let us know the activity of the Father. Let us not be distracted by the preposterous but focus in on what that bread implies. By laying out what gives us life, we are being drawn back to God through Jesus. This is what Jesus is really doing. He is laying out a plan of becoming more whole by getting back to God. That is truly something to munch on.
When I first read this passage, I got caught up in all of the language and extra dialogue. I got lost in the “I AM” statements, which I frequently get lost in the gospel of John. It won’t be the last time. What I forget is that every time Jesus says, “I AM” he is referencing back to God and bringing me with him. And every time I join the grumblers in this story (he is saying what? He thinks he is what? He wants me to do and eat and drink what?) Jesus keeps pulling us back to the point. Jesus keeps calling us back into relationship with him, and therefore with God. “You are not in charge here.” “I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate manna…” Jesus keeps calling me back to remembering who God is, what questions I have, and how God can feed me yet. This conversation will lead me to wholeness, relationship, and even more questions to come. In the meantime, Jesus will also continue to challenge me with obnoxious and difficult dialogue. This is what it means to be a disciple, to engage and return to God.
Quotes of the Week “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ― James Beard
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.” ― M.F.K. Fisher
“How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” – Julia Child
John 6:35-59 (Message) Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.” At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.
“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.” At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?” But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.” He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum.
Questions for the Week
How would you react to the message Jesus is giving?
What gives you life?
How does God challenge you?