A New Menu from Jesus
Perspectives on John chapter six
Written by Martin Ellgar 2005
When I was a boy going to Sunday school I began to hear the fabulous stories from the Gospel according to John. Among them were the stories of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five small bread loaves and two small fish, and the other familiar story written in chapter six is Jesus walking on the water. I still hear those stories today in sermons, at bible studies, and read them in commentaries, and in devotional materials. Generally, they all say the same thing, either from a perspective of building faith in Jesus Christ, or from a perspective of the cross where Jesus gave his life so that we may all have life. Preachers and teachers rightly say that the flesh and blood of Jesus that is his life was given as a sacrifice on the cross so that all may have life through him.
Hearing these familiar stories over again is like viewing a diamond in a fixed position seeing only one single face of the diamond. It is only when the cut diamond is rotated that light can reflect and refract within it producing a sparkle and a delight to the beholder of the diamond. Like a diamond, the Word of God needs to be rotated every which way too so that the light of God may shine through it and give us a new revelation of its beauty.
Chapter six is a diamond, amongst a field of diamonds. Within it are smaller unfamiliar stories that hold their own sparkle when rotated and examined. My endeavour is first to present these familiar and unfamiliar stories to you in a way that will add to the magnificence of the light of Jesus. Secondly, to present a perspective on these stories that will lead to a revitalised and renewed self through the working of the Holy Spirit. Finally, to create for the reader and listener images for ongoing meditation, and praising our Lord Jesus Christ as seen in a renewed light. Amen.
Part 1: Jesus the Faithful Servant
Jesus Feeds The Crowd
6:1. Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias).
A new chapter in the story of salvation begins with Jesus crossing to the far shore of the sea. The crossing communicates in part, location, a sense of distance and remoteness from home. In part, it signals also what is about to come, another new and daring mission for Jesus. As with all journeys taken by Jesus, people are touched and their life affected as he goes his way.
Jesus was on the waters of the sea that supported two names, Galilee and Tiberias. Both these names reveal the different values, beliefs, and faith of those people who used the sea and lived nearby. Tiberias was a city on the shore of the sea named in honor of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius. Romans, Greeks, and a number of Israelites lived there and in most part honored and supported the ways of Rome. It was a city avoided by many Israelites because it was known amongst them as an unclean city. Further north was another coastal city, Capernaum in the region of Galilee. Israelites occupied this city as also did a number of Romans and Greeks. Jesus and his disciples made Capernaum their headquarters for ministry. Both Capernaum and Tiberias had sizeable fishing fleets. One sea, yet two names, this one body of water was able to supply fish and give life to both the fishermen from Galilee and Tiberias. From verse one, emerges the idea of how one source of supply can support a multitude of people without distinguishing between them.
2. and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.
The people that followed Jesus were given no other identity than its collective size, a crowd. Therefore, one could assume then that this crowd was intended to represent any crowd, anywhere, and anytime that followed a hero. The crowd could represent all people from all walks of life, and to represent a crowd of today. There could have been people who were: sick or healthy, poor or rich, curious or just faithful followers of Jesus, people who spoke different languages, people who came from different regions, countries, and people with different cultures and religions. They could all have been a part of the crowd that followed Jesus.
The crowd followed Jesus because they saw him do miraculous signs on the sick. Jesus healed the sick. That was enough for some people especially those who were sick to follow Jesus in the hope that they too would receive healing from him. For others, the momentum to follow Jesus came from the miracle that was associated with the healing of the sick. Whether they had witnessed the healing act or had heard about it in the streets, they were all affected by Jesus. The direct impact he had on a few people by healing them extended to many more by giving them hope. Some hoped for healing, others hoped for a change in a world that was hungry for a better life. Through the actions of Jesus some people were encouraged to believe that God is with us again and intends to care for his people once more. They believed that God had finally returned to them and will usher in a new and brighter future for us all. And so, a multitude of people with various needs, wants, and hope followed Jesus as the one who could possibly fulfil them.
3. Then Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down with his disciples.
4. The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
There are two images presented in these verses, both pointing back to the past with the intention of linking their meaning with the present. The first, deals with mountains and the religious activities that occur on them. Briefly, it was a common practice amongst the various people to offer sacrifices to the gods on certain mountaintops. The belief was that some of the gods chose to rule from the mountaintop and reveal themselves there to the people below.
Jesus in a way is reminiscent of Moses who went up on Mt. Sinai to God for instruction while the people of Israel waited below. From there Moses brought down with him the good news that God will be their God and that they will be his people through a covenant (Exodus 19: 1-6). Verse three suggests an image of Jesus taking that position as the chosen one of God on the mountain that would serve and look after his people. Following that parallel image of Jesus as Moses on the mountain, or even as God on the mountain, one therefore can expect from the following text that Jesus would serve and look after his people. Perhaps one can even expect a new covenant from God through Jesus.
The second image presented is that of the Jewish Passover Feast which was near. It was a celebration that tells us when these events on the far shore of the sea occurred. It also gives the reader and listener a queue to reflect back to the first Passover and its importance to the life of Israel (Exodus 12: 1-17). In brief, the Passover was a time when God, the God of Abraham, freed the people of Israel from bondage and slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt. In preparation for their freedom, Moses instructed the people on the day to only eat unleavened bread, and to wipe the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their door lintels to protect themselves from death as the angel of the Lord passed over the city of Pharaoh. The Israelites continued to celebrate the event of the Passover by worshipping God and eating unleavened bread in remembrance of the event. From Egypt, God led the people through the wilderness to the mountain of God, Mt. Sinai. The reference to the Jewish Passover feast will also help the reader who is familiar with the Gospel story to make the connection to Jesus as the new Passover lamb. It was the flesh of Jesus given and his precious blood shed on the wooden cross, so that all people have been set free from eternal death and given a new life through him.
The Jewish Passover Feast brought together two groups of people in the worship of God. It brought together both the people who worked the land and those that tendered to the animals. They came together for the sole purpose of giving thanks to God for their freedom from tyranny and slavery in Egypt. They provided the necessary pastural and agricultural produce necessary for the people of Israel to eat unleavened bread and the appropriate sanctified flesh during the seven days of celebration (Leviticus 23: 4-8). In the context of the Jewish Passover Feast, the following text deals with feeding bread to the people. There is a distinct lack of emphasis on the flesh that ought to give balance to the Passover theme. Therefore, the reader ought to look forward with anticipation to the completion of the Passover theme with a text that deals with eating the sanctified flesh and the life that it brings.
The Jewish Passover Feast was near. The word near also brings to mind that the people coming to Jesus are near. Both the people and Jesus begin to enact the Passover that will bring life.
5. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
6. He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8. Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,
9. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
The author draws us away from the sight of an approaching crowd to a close encounter with a few individuals around Jesus. Unlike the crowd these individuals had names; there was Philip, Andrew, and Simon Peter. They all come from Bethsaida, a fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida may have been the closest village to where Jesus and the multitude came together. Jesus asked none other than a ‘local’ person, Philip where to buy food for the crowd.
Both the responses from Philip and Andrew together with the boy show a natural human reaction to an overwhelming task that stood before them of feeding the crowd. Their immediate response came from within which tried to deal with the ‘how’ of the situation by themselves. That is, how to feed so many people. Such a task set before anyone can be overwhelming and lead to no action at all, even for a larger local community, unless there is divine intervention and a miracle.
Jesus asked this of Philip only to test him (v.6). Some people take the perspective that Jesus was testing the faith of Philip, testing him to see what he was made of, or how much faith he had, or whether he could make the grade as a true and faithful disciple of Jesus. Many people understand and accept that meaning of the word ‘test’ because of our own cultural and educational heritage. But here, in the context which Philip finds himself in allows a shift in the meaning of the word test. Perhaps, the intention of the question would have been better understood if Jesus had said to Philip, “watch and learn”. The question given to Philip initiated a process for the building of faith for Philip, rather than measuring his present level of faith. The process was one in which Jesus endeavoured to draw Philip out of his self sufficiency and inward thinking, and to help him see Jesus as the source for help, as the bread of life.
Jesus said, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (v.5). The answer to the question ‘where,’ was ‘here’. It was to Jesus, the God on the mountain, the God who draws a people to the mountain where one looked for divine help and a miracle.
10. Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.
Like a good shepherd, Jesus leads the people, his flock to green pasture. In part, this verse recalls Psalm 23 and in particular verse two where it says, ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters, he restores my soul.’ This Old Testament picture portrays the main theme of John’s chapter six as Jesus being ‘the bread of life’, the one who restores our souls.
11. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
From so little, many were fed. Indeed, this was a miracle. The people received bread from heaven through Jesus. God gave Jesus more than enough bread to feed all the people. The miracle happened when Jesus took the very little he had and gave thanks for it before God. In faith, like the widow of Zarephath who continuously fed Elijah with very little (1Kings 17: 1-16), Jesus went about feeding all the people knowing that God would provide.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he sat them down and fed them. Jesus recognised the hand of God in the event of the people coming toward him. He also recognised them as a gift from God and responded accordingly with thanksgiving by feeding them. The following verses clearly show God’s involvement in bringing people to Jesus and Jesus’ response as the faithful servant. Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry (v.35b), and “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”(v.37) and, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me,” (v.39b), and again, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (v.44a).
Jesus Collects The Bread
12. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
13. So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
Bread had developed a special place in the life of Israel. Besides its daily use for sustenance, bread developed a cultural and religious significance in the life of Israel especially during times of hardship. For example, Israel made unleavened bread in the preparation for a hasty exodus from Egypt, and later used unleavened bread as a means to regularly celebrate that successful event (Exodus 12: 17). Bread from heaven helped sustain Israel on their trek to the mountain of God, Mt. Sinai (Exodus 16: 1-5). It helped also to sustain the prophet of God, Elijah during a time of drought in the land (1Kings 17: 1-16). Unleavened bread was also given as a grain offering on the alter of sacrifice and burnt for an aroma pleasing to God (Leviticus 2: 1-16).
In a cultural sense, Jesus continued to uphold the reverence for bread and made sure all that was left over was collected and not wasted. More importantly, in a theological sense, Jesus received something from God, and therefore whatever his Father in heaven gave him would not be wasted or lost. Jesus showed reverence even to a simple and daily thing like bread, because it was given from God. Jesus is the Faithful Servant, and how much more then will Jesus care for all the people his Father in heaven gives him? Jesus promises and declares, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (v.39).
Jesus distributed the food, while the disciples collected the bread that was left over. Twelve baskets of bread were collected. Now, much could be said about the number twelve. For example: the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve disciples of Jesus (considered by some Christians as the new Israel), and the twelve baskets of bread. Imagine the scene, twelve disciples returning each with a full basket of bread. This image is ripe for interpretation, but one important interpretation is to emphasise that none of the bread that Jesus was responsible for was wasted or lost. The result points to Jesus as the faithful servant. In addition, another image of the twelve full baskets carried by the disciples can be seen as a prophetic act created by God. It is a view that looks forward to the Christian church as a faithful disciple of Jesus feeding and providing life to all people. It is also makes a connection back to the disciple, Philip where Jesus asked him, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (v.5). The connection is a reminder to the Christian church and to all of us that Jesus is the source for life.
Jesus Saves His Disciples
14. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say. “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
15. Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
The beginning of chapter six mentions in verse two the crowd following Jesus because of miraculous signs. The story of feeding the crowd finishes with the people questioning the identity of Jesus. The recent events have shaken their popular belief in what was humanly possible. They are beginning to see more in Jesus than a man, but someone who could be divine and sent by God.
The people have had their physical needs fulfilled and yet their understanding of Jesus was incomplete. Out of their fears and anxiety came the thought of loosing a ‘good thing’ which therefore prompted them to try and grasp Jesus for themselves. They wanted to make Jesus king over them and in this way secure the source to fulfil their physical needs. It was a human response to a problem and a similar response to which Philip gave to the question from Jesus. Both responses were inward looking for a solution. Neither the crowd nor Philip turned to Jesus for help. The difference between making Jesus king and turning to him for help is that the later acknowledges Jesus as the bread of life.
Jesus did not want to be forced into a human solution knowing that he had more to offer the people than just filling their stomachs, so he withdrew from there. Jesus does fulfil our physical needs as he has shown many times throughout his public ministry. But there is a lot more to Jesus that the people need to known. He is the Son of God, the Faithful Servant of God who brings salvation to all that God has given him.
16. When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake,
17: where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.
18. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.
19. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified.
20. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
21. Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Chapter six proclaims Jesus as the bread of life. Jesus earlier fed the crowd physical bread and towards the end of the chapter he will feed them spiritual bread, and in between there is a story of a storm on the lake. The storm threatens the lives of the disciples in the boat. Storms are common, but the event of Jesus walking on the water in the storm is truly miraculous. In the context of chapter six where Jesus is the bread of life, there is a perspective that gives a good reason for Jesus to walk on the water. The perspective is from the promise Jesus made during his sermon at a synagogue in Capernaum. There Jesus declared, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (v. 39). The disciples have been given as a gift to Jesus from his Father in heaven. Jesus has already shown his faithfulness in caring for the other gifts that is, the people coming to him on the mountain, and the bread that fed them. Jesus who is the faithful servant cared for his disciples and walked on water to save them in a storm, because they were a gift from his Father in heaven.
After reaching the terrified disciples in the storm Jesus spoke to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” His words give life, and then they were willing to take Jesus into the boat. When Jesus speaks, his words have affect and lives are transformed. His words give life, and they dispelled the fear experienced by the disciples in the storm. During the night, Jesus and his disciples arrived safely together at their destination on the shore of Galilee. The next day Jesus was found preaching in a synagogue in Capernaum.
Jesus Receives The Crowd
22. The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone.
23. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
24. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
The next day after the storm, the people remaining on the other side of the lake realized that Jesus was no longer with them. Their experience with him the day earlier brought blessing into their life, and now they longed to be with him again.
There would have been no quick or easy way back to Capernaum, but a solution came with the storm during the night. A plausible scenario for the boats being nearby was due to the storm. The storm from the night before had loosed the fishing boats from their moorings at Tiberias and had landed near the place where the people were. This gave them the necessary means and opportunity to cross the lake to find Jesus. The responses to seeing the boats would have been as varied as the people in the crowd. Perhaps some of the people may have said that it was simply good luck, while others with some faith may have said that it was a miracle, a sign, that God is with us and God cares for us. There is also the perspective from faith, which sees through the storm to God sending the boats to take the people to Jesus.
The boats were found near the place where Jesus gave thanks to God for the bread that he gave to feed the people. The reference to the place of blessing therefore makes a theological connection to the boats. The place of giving bread has also become the place of giving the boats. As God was the giver of the one, he has also become the giver of the other. Like the once empty baskets that carried the bread that was given by God, so likewise the empty boats carried its precious cargo of people to Jesus. Both the bread and the people have been blessed and sent by God to Jesus. Imagine, God sends empty boats from the ‘unclean’ city of Tiberias to take a people to see Jesus. They get there to hear Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. And he was preaching about the bread of life.
Jesus declared, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (v.37). Chapter six begins with God bringing a crowd to Jesus by the mountain, and now God was sending the people to Capernaum to continue to be in the care of Jesus. Jesus who is the faithful servant cares for all the things that God gives him. He diligently fed the people by the mountain, collected twelve baskets of left over bread and did not lose any of it, he walked on water in a storm to save his disciples, and now a flotilla of boats have arrived with people in them to be in his care. We know from later on in the life of Jesus how much he loved all people, and how far he went in caring for them. Jesus gave his life and died on the cross to save all people from everlasting death and to give them eternal life with him.
The crowd that follows Jesus across the lake is a little gem of a story. With further rotation and examination of it there is more light shed revealing its great splendor. From the perspective that Jesus is the embodiment of the real presence of God, then a parallel could be drawn between Jesus and the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was a portable wooden box containing chiefly the covenant between God and Israel. Its real significance was that it represented the real presence of the invisible God in the midst of Israel. God, through his servant Moses would instruct him when to lift up the Ark of the Covenant and move it. Then all the people would break camp and follow it to wherever God led them in the wilderness and later into the Promised Land.
It is a simple picture of Jesus walking on the water and the crowd following him across the lake, but it says a lot. Jesus’ miraculous walk on the water signifies that there is a new and real presence of God in the midst of his people. Therefore, the presence of Jesus makes redundant the authority of the Ark of the Covenant and all its contents. The generic crowd that follows Jesus across the lake signifies that they belong to God, that God has accepted them as they are, as his own.
Jesus fed the people bread on one side of the lake, and now God sends them again so that they may come to hear Jesus speak on the other side of the lake. There they will hear and receive Jesus as the bread of life.
The main theme in Part 1 that connects the various stories is, Jesus the faithful servant. Jesus had shown that he was diligent in looking after and caring for everything that his Father in heaven gave him. There was the occasion when Jesus fed the people that came to him, when he collected the left over bread, when he saved his disciples in a storm, and when he continued to care for all the people that God sent to him in boats.
God was active in Jesus’ ministry on earth. He brought the people to Jesus at the mountain, he provided the bread to feed them, and he provided the boats in which the people could get to Jesus across the sea. God was always with Jesus and continued to work through him throughout his ministry on earth.
Jesus showed that he is the Son of God. The interaction between Jesus and God showed that Jesus is more than just a man. He is also the divine Son of God who is his Father in heaven. Jesus gave thanks for the bread to his Father in heaven, and God responded to his Son by multiplying it as Jesus fed the people. Jesus acknowledged his Father’s will by accepting the gifts he was sent and caring for all that God had given him.
Jesus cares for all people. The opening of chapter six shows a symbolic reference to the theme of bringing together all people to himself as seen in the two names given for the one body of water. The Passover festival can also be seen as a symbolic reference to the same theme. The festival does bring together both the agricultural and pastural elements to be used in the one celebration. Thereby, a varied and mixed people are brought together as one community before God.
Part 2: A New Menu from Jesus
The setting moves from one side of the lake to the other, from the country to the city of Capernaum, from outside to inside a synagogue. From outside to inside the people have followed Jesus. The multitude of people that followed Jesus had been brought together with all those people in the synagogue that represent Israel, the covenant and the way of their forefathers. A multitude of people have come together under one roof to hear Jesus speak.
Jesus, Real Bread For Life
25. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26. Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
27. Do not work for food that spoils. But for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Jesus knows the crowd well; they had sought him out to further satisfy their basic human need for food. Besides providing for them with physical bread, Jesus is also keen to introduce them to a new food that will be satisfying for longer. The new food may not be bread as the people have become accustomed to it in their daily life. The language of Jesus shifts from using the word bread to food. The shift and choice of words helps to prepare the listener and reader for the unexpected, or at least question in their minds what Jesus meant by a food that endures to eternal life. Jesus and the new food are closely related. He is the one who gives this food that endures to eternal life. Jesus quietly begins to introduce the whole idea of the one who gives of the new food in the third person. He says that the Son of Man will give it to you. Later in his sermon, Jesus moves from that position to the first person where he says, “I am the bread of life.”(v.48). He has identified himself as the giver, and as the substance of the new food.
Jesus continues to say that God the Father has placed his seal of approval on him. The seal of approval on the Son of Man would be thought provoking. Firstly, the word seal would recall the covenant that the people of Israel made with God. It was a covenant handed down from God by Moses to the people of Israel. It was meant to bring life to them. Secondly, the thought that the Son of Man has the seal of approval from God would throw into doubt the authority of the existing covenant with God. Jesus is introducing three new ideas to the people; first, that there will be a new food; secondly, that the giver of this new food is the Son of God; and thirdly, that a new covenant is at hand involving the Son of Man. Furthermore, a new covenant suggests that it would supersede the old covenant that Israel is so familiar with.
28. Then they asked him. “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
The mind set of the people speaking with Jesus is like that of many human beings and that is to believe that only work, God pleasing work will bring blessing from God and salvation. That was how the Israelites had perceived the covenant handed down to them by Moses from God. They worked hard to obey all the laws and ordinances in the covenant so that they could be considered suitable for blessings from God. Unfortunately, the Israelites continued to make mistakes and therefore could not uphold their agreement in the covenant with God. Sin is in all people where self-centeredness is a major part of it, and a considerable cause towards ruined lives. The Israelites left the covenant unfulfilled, and together with all people continue striving to please God in some way in a hope for a better life.
29. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Jesus gives them what they want, he sets them a task, and in fact it is no task at all, only to believe in Jesus. That is, to believe includes; to follow him, to look upon him, to listen to him, to allow him to be your shepherd, to allow him to be your food for daily life means to believe in him. For many people to believe in Jesus is an impossible task, and enforced by their pride and self-centeredness. Even for these people they are still counted amongst those sent across the lake to Jesus in a flotilla of boats. They are still counted in the care of Jesus who promises not to lose one of them. God had sent Jesus his son and who ever believed in Jesus was already eating real bread from heaven, and receiving real life, the very life that the other people unknowingly were seeking.
30. So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our fore fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
Many people are naturally blind to the love of God, and yet God continues to love all people and endeavours to place them in the care of Jesus. God through Jesus had worked signs and miracles in their presence and yet they were slow to see it. Many who were present with Jesus had experienced the miracles and signs performed by Jesus. They experienced the feeding of the crowd, God sending boats, and finding Jesus miraculously on the other side of the sea. It is ironical how the Israelites could only refer back to their fore fathers and to the bread that they had miraculously received from heaven, and yet they could not see that God had recently fed them bread from heaven. Generally, the people could not see the daily working of God in their life.
32. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
33. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus pushes to the background their heroes of the past, Moses and the forefathers. They had played their part as servants of God, like the baskets carrying the left over bread, and the boats carrying the people to Jesus. In truth, it has always been God working through his servants that provided for Israel’s daily life. Jesus brings to the fore his Father in heaven and not the local heroes as the true provider of guidance, help, peace, and true life. Without that knowledge of truth there is no hope, and only God can give hope because only he has the power for real change and transformation of life.
34. “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
35. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
36. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
The people generally continued to misunderstand who Jesus was, and they continued to be blind to the revelation of God’s love for them through Jesus. Now, Jesus continues to identify himself clearly by confessing that he is the bread of life, the bread that has come down from heaven, the one that can sustain all human life. By declaring that Jesus is the bread of life, he is also indirectly announcing that Moses and the forefathers have been made redundant by his presence, and therefore signifying also that a new covenant is at hand.
37. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
38. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
39. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
40. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Many people continued to disbelieve in Jesus, to disbelieve in the God who had sent him, and to disbelieve in the daily working of God in their life. Despite their unbelief, Jesus promises to continue to care for all of them, because the Father in heaven had given them into his care. He promises his Father in heaven not to lose any and to raise them up at the last day.
There would have been some in the crowd who had looked to Jesus and followed him, because they knew him as the Son of God and the saviour of all people. To those people they had already entered into eternal life. They had been feeding on Jesus as the bread of life and had experienced the true meaning of life that was indeed satisfying. They had heard the good news from Jesus, hearing that God had given them to Jesus and into his eternal care.
Some people may view verse forty as the final contractual agreement between Jesus and all people. That is, only those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God will have eternal life and be raised up on the last day. This verse outside of the context of chapter six and especially on its own can quite readily appear as if ‘to believe’ is a condition necessary unto salvation. Unfortunately, as people are there comes from their own pride a tendency to love the law with all its conditions. Human pride wrongly believes it can uphold all the proposed conditions and readily says, “I can do it”, and expects everyone else to be able to do it as well. Such perspectives on conditions tend only to divide a people rather than to unite them. Again, human pride treats grace with suspicion and shies away from it. Yet, grace has been freely given to all through what Jesus has done, and discovering this good news is cause enough to follow Jesus and to tell others of it.
There is a problem when any condition is applied to the salvation given through Jesus, and that it automatically negates the need for Jesus. There is already in existence for the Israelites the Law that Moses handed down them as a means to receive blessing from God. In the Law of Moses there are ample conditions and ordinances to suit anyone. Furthermore, if verse forty is perceived to be conditional unto salvation, then one does injury to the preceding verses by ignoring the stories of chapter six and their links to the promises of Jesus. Jesus promises to lose none of all the Father gives him. From the beginning, verse one points to the theme of two peoples coming together to feed from the one source. God is bringing together two peoples, Jew and Gentile, believer and unbeliever, clean and unclean, together as one crowd that Jesus promises to care for. From the perspective of chapter six as a whole there are no conditions. Therefore a perspective on verse forty speaks to the believer in Jesus and brings immediate to joy to them since they already know him. They are not separated from the unbeliever but remain in the crowd and united with them through the promise of Jesus. The unbeliever is still to experience the joy and true life from eating the Bread of Life that is in Jesus. The promise remains, Jesus shall lose none of all that the Father has given him, and raise them up at the last day.
41. At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
The Jews have come to the fore, they have been noticed from amongst the crowd who were listening to Jesus as grumbling amongst themselves and contentious to his teachings. In John’s Gospel, the Jews generally represent all those Israelites who had more education than the other people. They were educated in the Temple rites, educated in the Holy Scriptures, in its laws and ordinances, held positions of office and authority in the Temple and in the community. Above all, they were generally people who ought to have known better.
Some of the Jews understood what Jesus was saying when he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They feared that Jesus was instigating a new order and authority for himself. Jesus threatened their cultural and historical heritage, and that meant he also threatened their own way of life.
42. They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven?”
Some of the Jews were in confusion over the identity of Jesus. Who was he? Where was he from? Some belittled Jesus as merely flesh and blood, born of parents they knew as people from a nearby town. Perhaps their ridicule of Jesus was an attempt to turn away growing support for him from amongst the people.
43. “Stop grumbling among yourselves.” Jesus answered.
Jesus was in the midst of giving a sermon in a synagogue in Capernaum. More than likely the noise level was steadily rising in conjunction with levels of anxiety and tension, all because of what Jesus was saying. There was complaining against Jesus as they saw him only as a threat to their traditional interpretation of Holy Scripture and their way of life. While others who listened could hear him promising a new and brighter future for all.
44. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
The basic promise was repeated from the start of verse 37. This is good news for those people who believed that God had drawn them to Jesus on the mountain or drawn them to him by sending the boats. They would certainly hear this promise with joy because they would have heard through it the promise of salvation. Despite all their faults and weaknesses, God is with them, and counts them amongst his own. Their recent experiences with God through Jesus would have reassured them of the validity of the promise spoken by Jesus and the reason for joy.
45. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
God was teaching the people as they listened to Jesus. It does not matter whether those who hear have faith or not, they were all still being taught by God. The words of Jesus were spirit, they were from God, and they were the bread of life. Those people who had listened and thereby tasted the bread of life would have recognised that the words from Jesus are the same as those from the Father in heaven. The words are of truth and life. Since the words are the same, that is they give life, therefore Jesus functions as God with us, (Emmanuel). Many people go to Jesus for this reason as they recognise him to be the giver of real life.
The words from Jesus also brought conflict. Some Jews who heard Jesus speak took offence to his words. They were probably too busy being self righteous. They looked for fault in the words of Jesus and measured them against their own lofty opinion. They would have considered themselves as the learnt ones of the Holy Scripture, and the ones taught by God. Yet Jesus refers to those Jews as unlearned because they have not come to him, and seen in him as the giver of real life, the real bread from heaven.
46. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
47. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
48. I am the bread of life.
49. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.
50. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.
Jesus continues to speak in the first person describing himself as the bread of life and the one from God. A person who listens to the words of Jesus, takes them in as truth, and lives by them. That person has eaten from the bread of life and has been given spiritual life now and forever. For those people, such spiritual life can mean freedom from guilt, freedom from fear and anxiety, and resulting in a life far more satisfying than before. Jesus offers and provides a life that not even Moses and the forefathers of old could provide through their wisdom and teaching. Therefore, through the presence of Jesus, he supersedes Moses and the covenant, or at least fulfils that which the covenant of Moses failed to bring about, and that is real life for all people.
Jesus, Real Meat For Life
51. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
A further surprise has come to all who have been listening to Jesus. In one breath Jesus says, “This bread is my flesh.” To some Jews those few words would have brought a shock and a jolt to their piety. Symbolically and in a real sense too, Jesus brings together the agricultural and pastural elements into one body, into one consuming celebration of salvation. Jesus brings together the idea of eating bread and flesh from the one body that can provide nourishment and salvation. The possibility of eating bread and flesh from the one body allows for a greater number, in fact a multitude of people to receive salvation. This continues the theme of many receiving life from the one body. Chapter six began with that theme where it started with a sea and its two names. The two names represented two cultures, two peoples, and yet both of them received life through fishing from the one body of water.
Many Christians and other people, who are familiar with the Jesus story as taught within the Western culture, can intuitively connect the idea of Jesus giving his flesh with his death on the cross. His death on the cross is seen as the means whereby all people receive eternal life. But to all those people who do not know the full Jesus story, especially the ones who were listening to Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum would have been further astonished at what he had just said. They heard Jesus add to his original idea when he declared, “I am the bread of life,” (v.35) to include that this bread is flesh. Some pious Jews were shocked when Jesus introduced the idea of eating his flesh. Even to talk about it in a symbolic way was a thought too distasteful and irreligious for them.
52. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Some of the Jews found this thought of eating human flesh even more repulsive than when Jesus said that he was the bread from heaven. They began to argue even more amongst themselves. The atmosphere inside the synagogue would have been far from calm and peaceful with the increased level of argument amongst the Jews. The Jews were divided amongst themselves.
Perhaps this question may have been said in a voice of ridicule to belittle the authority of Jesus. Or it may have been voiced with doubt about the true nature of Jesus as the Son of God. All too often the ‘how’ question is answered with difficulty and usually reveals self reliance and an inadequate faith in God as the provider. The question also recalls verse seven where Philip was overwhelmed by a difficult situation. He was faced with a task to feed the crowd. His immediate response was to think ‘how’ it could be possible rather than looking to Jesus for the solution.
53. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
56. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
57. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
58. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
59. He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Jesus continued his sermon and in doing so continued to blow more wind into the storm in the synagogue and caused the waves of argument to rise further amongst the Jews. In the strong wind of change Jesus said, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” For some pious Jews who could not understand Jesus’ gospel message because of their own prejudice could only hear him speaking words of obscenity in the synagogue. They knew that the Law of Moses forbade the consuming of blood (Gen.9: 4, Lev.3: 17, Deut. 12: 23). The law pointed out that the eating of flesh with blood made a person unclean, and unworthy to come into the presence of God. Consuming flesh with blood was considered a foreign practice, one outside of their Jewish faith.
Many Israelites amongst others believed that the life of the animal was in its blood, and for the Israelites it belonged to God. The life of the animal that is, its spirit, its nature, its personality, its make up, its very soul was believed to be contained in the blood of the animal. Therefore, it was possible for the people to imagine that by consuming the blood of an animal they would take in the life of that animal. That would mean a transformation of life by taking in the spirit and nature of that animal through consuming its blood. Jesus uses that belief to his own advantage to communicate and teach a reality about himself. He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (v.56). The two become one. Jesus teaches that whoever feeds on him will have a life of transformation. The word of Jesus transforms people’s lives that they take in the spirit and nature of Jesus himself. The people then live a life like Jesus, a life of giving, caring, and loving others.
As Jesus was speaking about eating bread and flesh from the one body, his own, he was also transforming their beliefs. To begin with, Jesus is bringing together two images into one, or better still, removing division and leaving a concept powerless. That concept was about the things that were clean and unclean. An image of clean and acceptable to the Jews was to eat bread from heaven, and something unclean and unacceptable was to eat flesh with blood. Jesus has joined these two images into one, that is whoever eats from the bread of life, or those who eat his flesh and blood both receive life through Jesus. These two images have throughout chapter six represented; two cultures, two peoples, and those people who were considered clean and unclean. Both can now feed from Jesus and receive eternal life. It means that Jesus has brought together both Jew and Gentile. They can both now feed from Jesus and receive life. Jesus has done away with the great divide between people and allowed all to come to him for life. And that is the good news to all who were listening to Jesus inside and also outside the synagogue. Chapter six began with a sea with two names showing how two cultures, two people both received life through fishing from the one body of water. And now Jesus is this one body in which all can receive real life.
Furthermore, with the bringing together of the clean and unclean, it also means bringing together that which was once considered holy with the profane. In the eyes of God the two have now become one. Jesus challenges the people’s belief in what they have considered to be holy and the nature of holiness. God is holy by his very nature. He is the almighty, the all powerful, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and all that exists in it. His holiness sets him apart from the powerless gods made by people. Those little gods are often revealed in the money trail. On the things people spend their time and money on often reveals what they value the most. They can’t bring real life since they have no power to transform life.
God called the nation of Israel and set them apart from other nations to become a holy people. Through the covenant and ordinances handed to them by Moses their lives were to be transformed into the likeness of God. Israel’s purpose as a holy nation was to reveal through their life God’s nature of love and care to all nations. In this way all nations would be drawn into and joined with Israel as one people under the love and care of God. Unfortunately, Israel’s calling to be a holy nation only made them proud and aloof, and indeed set them apart from God, his purpose, and from other nations. The covenant and the ordinances that were handed down to them from God through Moses became instead a tool and a means to maintain their pride and aloofness as a privileged nation under God, and to enforce their separateness from other people.
God by his very nature remains holy, and Jesus the Son of God reveals to all people the loving nature of God. Jesus shares in the likeness and holy nature of his Father in heaven. Jesus is fulfilling what Israel had failed to do, and that is to be a holy witness to all people and to care for them. Jesus has descended from his kingly throne in heaven to care for all creation, for all people on earth. Jesus is the bread from heaven from which all people can eat and receive real life. The actions of Jesus have clarified the meaning of the nature of holiness. Holiness is to descend from one’s throne and get down to care for others. The words of Jesus can transform lives so that a person takes on the nature and holiness of Jesus. The result of a holy life is seen in humble service to others, and such a life is pleasing to God.
For some pious Jews it was bad enough that Jesus used offensive language in the synagogue, and now the challenging idea of having to share their worship of God with the unclean, with the Gentiles was too much for some.
Indigestion And Departure
60. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61. Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them. “Does this offend you?
62. What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
Like many of the Jews, the disciples of Jesus were also challenged through what Jesus was saying. Jesus challenged their cultural and traditional values. He challenged their belief in the usefulness of Moses and the Law that he had presented to Israel at Mt Sinai. He challenged the current covenant made between God and the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai as to whether they were fulfilling their part in it. He challenged the things that were holy to Israel and whether they had any real value. All in all Jesus challenged their own identity; who they were as a nation before God, and how they themselves fitted into it as individuals. For many of the disciples, it was a mind blowing experience, and no wonder they found it difficult to accept the teaching of Jesus.
Many of the disciples said, “Who can accept it?” The people who could readily accept the teaching of Jesus were those who found themselves outside of all that Moses and the Law represented. The teaching of Jesus was good news to all who found themselves to be unholy and unworthy before God. They were the ones that could now feel included in the kingdom of God because of what Jesus was saying and doing.
The joining of the holy with the profane caused many of the disciples of Jesus to grumble. Jesus said to them, “What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!” In a way Jesus was presenting a challenge to his disciples for them to rightly discern the true nature of Jesus. They needed to answer between whether Jesus is merely flesh and blood or whether he is truly the Son of God. There was an inadequate understanding of Jesus by many of his disciples. Therefore they were offended when Jesus presented a vision of a man who is mere flesh and blood to them ascending into the realm of holiness where God resides. That vision for many of his disciples meant the bringing together of the holy with the profane, and so Jesus asked them, “Does this offend you?”
63. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
Jesus undermines the entire value system of the Jews and many of his disciples by saying that all human effort counts for nothing. The only things that count are the spoken words of Jesus. His words give life. The Spirit works through the words of Jesus by drawing people to Jesus, by teaching them about the Father’s love for all people, by strengthening their faith in Jesus as the faithful servant, and by feeding their soul so that they have real life now and forever.
64. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
65. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
66. From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Some pious Jews and many of Jesus’ disciples were offended at what Jesus said, so much so that many of his disciples left him. Imagine the scene in the synagogue where Jesus was giving a sermon. His sermon caused so much division that many of his own followers got up and walked out on their leader. Such was the radical message he gave to his audience. It is a message where both Jew and gentile can share in a new God given gift for real life. Many disciples left Jesus because they did not listen to his words, nor did he fit any longer into their agenda of hope. Perhaps their false hopes for Jesus were similar to those people who were fed by Jesus on the other side of the lake where they wanted to make Jesus king of Israel.
67. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the twelve.
68. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69.We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus asked the remaining few disciples where their loyalties lay. Simon Peter speaks for the disciples and answers Jesus. He confesses allegiance to Jesus. His confession summarises the essence of chapter six. Firstly, Simon Peter believes that Jesus is the faithful Son of God, and secondly, that he is the only one that can give real life now and forever.
Andrew’s brother, Simon Peter bears two names for the one body. More than the other Gospel writers, John uses both names to refer to him. Names reveal heritage, identity, and often contain the hopes of the one who gave the name. Other than the parents of Simon, Jesus also named him, and called him Peter (John 1: 42). Upon naming Simon Peter, Jesus takes on the responsibility as his Good Shepherd. Simon Peter’s name adjoins his confession of faith in Jesus as a continuing witness to Jesus and his promise. His name reveals that Jesus will feed him the bread of life and to all who follow Jesus as their Good Shepherd.
70. Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”
71. (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
It is interesting to note how John the writer of this Gospel brings forward a reference to Judas and his betrayal of Jesus so early in the Gospel story. There is a similar context between chapter six and Jesus’ last supper where Judas betrays Jesus. The context of chapter six is about receiving real life from Jesus by eating his bread, eating his flesh and drinking his blood. It was at Jesus’ last supper (Matthew 26: 17-30) where he celebrated the Passover with his disciples that Jesus ‘toasted’ to the new covenant. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” ” (Matt. 26: 26). “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” ” (Matt. 26: 27 – 28). It was in this similar context of eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood that Judas like many other disciples before him got up and walked out on Jesus.
In the Synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus spoke to the crowd about receiving life from him. He spoke about his words as being bread, flesh and blood, and a means to real life for all people. The variety of people in the crowd justified the use of inclusive language by Jesus. He used the words: bread, flesh and blood to include Jew and Gentile in his message of salvation to them. Those words were used again when Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples in Jerusalem. That inclusive language further suggests that there was a variety of people in the upper-room with Jesus and the disciples. Therefore, the crowd in the upper room not only heard Jesus retell his promise for real life, but also they probably participated in the meal with Jesus as his confirmation of his life to them.
The disciples continued to have difficulties with the teachings of Jesus even after the death and resurrection of Jesus as portrayed in a story dealing with Simon Peter (Acts 10 & 11). In a brief over view of that story, Simon Peter has a vision from God. He is presented with an array of food to eat, both clean and unclean. Simon Peter refuses to eat anything unclean. God’s reply to Simon Peter was, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10: 15). After that, he relented and allowed the Gentiles to join in fellowship and worship of the one true God, since God had extended salvation also to the Gentiles.
Conclusion: Jesus, The New Covenant
Again in chapter six, Jesus continues to reveal who he is. He is the Faithful One, the faithful servant of God, the one descended from heaven. Jesus commits himself to the people who came to him as their Good Shepherd. He declared to them, “And this is the will of him who sent me that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (v. 39). This promise is repeated a number of times throughout the chapter. The faithfulness of Jesus to God and his promise is illustrated through the stories of Jesus feeding the multitude, Jesus collecting the bread left over, Jesus walking on stormy waters to save his disciples, and Jesus receiving the people that God had sent in boats.
The faithfulness of Jesus to God challenges and surpasses the faithfulness of Israel in all matters. Therefore, the faithfulness of Jesus shakes the foundations of the values Israel has held on to from their forefathers. It challenges their self importance before God and their ability to fulfil the covenant handed down to them by Moses. The faithful actions of Jesus fulfils all that the covenant from Moses demanded of Israel. From that perspective Jesus takes the place of Israel and he could rightly be called the New Israel. Since Jesus is now recognised as the Faithful Servant of God and who replaces Israel, he then also takes the place of Israel in the covenant with God.
The role Jesus plays in the covenant with God can be better appreciated with a brief description of that same covenant formally handed down to Israel by Moses. The covenant agreement that Israel had with God can basically be described as a king and servant relationship. Israel was meant to be the faithful servant and through their faithfulness would receive fullness of life from their divine King. Their duty was to be a holy nation, a nation set apart from the others. Through their expected faithfulness and godly lives they were to be a witness to the other nations including their old enemy, Egypt. Through their witness of God’s love in their lives they were to draw all nations into the kingdom of God so that they too could receive the fullness of life and salvation. That was God’s plan. Unfortunately, Israel failed in their part of the covenant because of their pride and self centeredness. As a result of their sin the other nations were left without a true witness of Gods love, and left without the hope that only God can give for real life.
The basic terms of the covenant has not changed, only the responsibility of it has changed from Israel to Jesus. Jesus continues to fulfil faithfully the obligations of the covenant as assigned by God. Jesus is the Holy One of God who witnesses the love of God to all people, and accepts all people into his care as they are given to him by God. The covenant is no longer between God and people, King and servant, but between God the Father in heaven and his faithful Son, Jesus. In the sight of God, Israel is now placed and counted as one nation amongst the others in the care of Jesus.
With Jesus now in charge of the covenant the other thing that is new with the covenant are the benefits. This time the benefits are real, actual, now and forever. The covenant in the hands of Jesus is like a new covenant. Therefore, Jesus through his presence makes the distinction between new and old covenant, successful and failed. Where Moses was related to the old covenant, Jesus has become known amongst Christians as the New Covenant bringing real life to all people.
In part, chapter six begins with Jesus feeding the people with physical bread and towards the end Jesus was feeding them spiritual bread, that is, his word. Jesus shows that he not only cares for their physical needs but more importantly provides also for their spiritual needs. It is the spiritual bread that Jesus gives through his word that can only give everlasting peace.
Jesus speaks about himself as the bread of life, the very bread that is necessary for real life. In doing so he was also pushing to the background the importance of Moses and his teachings that Israel became dependant upon for life. Israel failed to fulfill all that was tabulated in the covenant delivered to them by Moses. Through their failure they suffered and missed out on the fullness of life that God had originally intended. Through Jesus, God was changing the means in which a person could receive real life.
The entire sermon of Jesus in the synagogue was to reveal himself as the new covenant to the people and the benefits available to them. Jesus first began by offering himself to Israel as the new bread for life and how they ought to listen to his words for real life rather than Moses and his words. He continued to offer himself again and this time to all people by presenting his flesh and blood to them as real food for life. Through the actions of Jesus, he is bringing together the clean and unclean, the holy and the profane, the Jew and Gentile, and all people together so that they would have real life through him. His words give life now, and together with his own life that he freely gave on the cross all have eternal life. Jesus freely gave his life as the price to fulfil the promise that none would be lost and that he will raise them up on the last day to eternal life.
The teaching of Jesus caused tension and division even amongst Jesus’ own followers. It was a teaching that carried with it the essence of the old covenant. It challenged all people to turn from their self centred ways and to care for others. Whether it was fully understood or not, many did not like the idea of having to share their God, their worship of him, with enemies, strangers, and all those once considered unsuitable to be with. For many, including Jesus’ own disciples the new teaching was too much to take and so they left him.
Nonetheless, leaving or following Jesus, God gave all people into his care. Through Jesus’ activities we now have an assured hope that he will continue to fulfil faithfully his obligations to his Father in heaven by giving life to all people. Jesus has given us reassurances that he will walk on water to save his own, and to the extent that he has given his life to save us all. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, he lives today. Jesus lives today, so that our hope for life is real. He continues as in the pass to bring life to all people so that none will be lost.
The events of chapter six began at a time when the Jewish Passover Feast was near. At the completion of these events, Jesus has become the new celebration. He is the one in which all people can receive the bread that he gives, his flesh and his blood for deliverance from slavery to sin, guilt, fear, and death. Through Jesus all can celebrate and have real life. Amen.