Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Parsing John 6: King? Food? They don't get it.

 Jesus feeds the five thousand and then goes off to be alone when some of the crowd, all excited about the wonder of getting free food, wants to take him by force to make him the “king” Messiah that they anticipate.  

His disciples take a ship to go to Capernaum and He joins them later by walking on the water.  

Those he fed discover his departure and follow him to Capernaum, looking for Him.  And then there is this conversation:

The Crowd of Followers (TCOF): When did you come here?  (We can’t figure out how you got here.)

Jesus: You have not followed me here because of the miracles you saw me do that helped others.  You are here because you were hungry yesterday and, to your surprise, I gave you enough bread to eat that you were not hungry anymore.  But that should not be the reason why you are here.  Your motive should not be the fact that you received temporary solution to an ongoing, physical need; that I gave you food.  Your motive for being here should be a hunger for that which gives light and life to the soul sufficient to qualify you for life with God.  The Son of Man (I) can give that to you.

TCOF:  So, what do we need to do to have life with God and do his work?

Jesus:  If you wish to live a godly life, one that involves doing His work, you must believe the one He sent.

TCOF: Okay.  You're saying that's you, right?  Show us a sign so that we may believe.  Show us what you do.   (Ironic…they recently saw a him heal the sick numerous times, see John 6:2.  It seems they are mostly interested in another show.  Miracles for personal entertainment?  Miracles for generating enthusiasm?  They seem to have missed the whole purpose of those healing miracles—compassionate healing for others).  How about manna? “Bread from Heaven”. Moses did that for our ancestors.  That would be a good sign. (Back to the notion of “feed us food” again).

Jesus: Moses did not give you “bread from heaven”.  Manna was a miracle, but it was to meet a physical, earthly need. It was a physical, earthly substance for a physical, earthly need.  Heavenly bread fills a spiritual, heavenly need and comes from God.  Heavenly bread is the person who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.

TCOF: Great!  Give us some of this bread!

Jesus:  I am that bread.  A person who comes to me will never be spiritually hungry.  A person who believes me and trusts what I have said will never be spiritually thirsty.    You have seen me, but you do not believe me.  You will need to believe first.  Every good blessing that God promises, He will give to me.  And if you come to me, I will share it abundantly.  You see, I came from heaven, not with my own agenda, but with the full intent to do what God wants.  And do you know what He wants?  He wants everyone who comes to me, and understands and embraces this new way of life of loving God and fellowmen, to be raised up to everlasting life.  With me that is possible.  I will do that.

TCOF:  Good grief.  The gall of calling himself “the bread that came down from heaven”.  Everyone knows he’s Joseph and Mary’s son.  “Bread from heaven”, indeed!

Jesus: Don’t murmur.  The fact is this:  The only way to come to me is for you to do what the Father wants.  What does he want?  He wants you to accept me for who I really am: the Son.  The Father testifies that that is who I am.  And if you understand and accept that testimony from the Father, and you live a life committed to doing what the Father hopes and wants you to do, then the result will be that I will raise you up in the resurrection of the just.  Every man, woman and child will have the opportunity to be taught this.  And those who learn this from the Father (recognize its truth from personal revelation) and live a life attempting to do the will of the Father are those who “come to me”.  And that believing—the kind that transforms your life—is what everlasting life is all about.  The fact is, I am the bread of life.  That’s different from the manna.  It’s also different from the bread you ate yesterday. Those were helpful, but they did not bring everlasting life.

At this point Jesus then launches into an analogy which refers to his atoning sacrifice, his crucifixion and the ordinance of communion/sacrament which is a renewing of our covenant to come to Him and which he will revisit in his teaching at the time of the Last Supper.  And it is way over the heads of his listeners.

TCOF:  This is just too weird.

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