Summary: Let’s examine what eating bread means and how Jesus is the bread of life.
What is eaten but never totally consumed? How does eternal life transmit to us as we eat the bread of heaven? How does God want us to understand the bread from heaven?
Let’s examine what eating bread means and how Jesus is the bread of life.
We will read John 6:35, 41-51 and examine Jesus’ dialogue on bread.
What is Bread
Bread has been a staple, a main food in most societies. It is an everyday part of family meals. Though wheat is the most common bread in many parts of the world, it also comes in many other wonderful varieties. There are acorn, almond, amaranth, bean, barley, buckwheat, cassava, chestnut, chickpea, coconut, corn, emmer, fonio, hemp, kamut, mesquite, millet, oats, pea, potato, rice, rye, sorghum, soy, spelt, tapioca, teff, triticale and quinoa flours for bread. Why did Jesus use such a common daily substance to describe eating himself for eternal life? Could it be that we are to be reminded of Jesus in ordinary everyday events? Did Jesus say this is my body as a mere metaphor or is there a real mysterious presence of his body in the eucharist? One thing's for sure: we need the bread from heaven.
Why Come, Believe
Jesus invites us to come to him and believe in him. What does that mean? English is less precise than Greek so it difficult to translate some things. We do not commonly use phrases like “whoever is coming to me” or “whoever is believing in me” but that would be a more accurate translation. It means a present continuous action, not just a one-time event. That means that we “keep on coming” and “keep on believing” our whole lives long, not just when we were initiated into the Christian community. The promise that we would not hunger or thirst is future and not necessarily immediately fulfilled. Like Elizabethan English dialects, Koiné Greek used double negatives as a strong negation. It literally says they “never not shall hunger” and “never not shall thirst.” This is a strong emphasis of future guarantees.
Why Stop Complaining
They were murmuring, literally speaking in a low voice secretly as people do when they are discontented. Such complaining can easily blow up into an argument among themselves as it does after our current text. This reminds us of their ancestors who complained during the first Passover season and the Exodus. God provided them food in the wilderness too and the people complained about that bread from heaven. God barred the complainers from entry into the Promised Land. Some today will not listen to Jesus’ words and enter the eternal land of promise. What do we believe about Jesus? Was he just a man? Some today do not want to believe that Jesus came from heaven. Jesus was very clear, that the Father sent him (44), that he alone has seen God (46) and he came down from heaven (51).
How are We Drawn to Jesus by the Father
What does Jesus’ statement that no one can come to him unless the Father draws them mean? Jesus will draw everyone (John 12:32) to himself like fish caught in a net (John 21:6, 11). It is not an act of free will. The fish do nothing. We are incapable of coming to Jesus on our own. How does God net us? We are drawn miraculously by the Father’s teaching (45), using our minds. Why do some believe in Jesus and faithfully attend church and others not? Rather than ask such questions should we recognize that it is a miracle that some do believe and are faithful? Why are you a Christian? Do we recognize the miracle? Do we recognize God as having drawn us to Jesus? God has the wheel and the roadmap. Let’s sit back and relax.