Jesus’ popularity was growing due to both his miraculous signs and his teaching. When over 5,000 ended up being out too late to find food, Jesus fed them with five barley loaves and two fish. Then Jesus left.
The next day they caught up with him in the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:59). This developed into a conversation with Jesus talking on a ‘spiritual’ level about who he was but the people understanding his words on a ‘physical’ level. They really could not comprehend what he was saying.
“I tell you the solemn truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate all the loaves of bread you wanted. Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life – the food which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has put his seal of approval on him” (John 6:26-27).
That peaked their interest, so they asked Jesus what deed they needed to do. Jesus replied: “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent” (John 6:29).
They seemed to realise that Jesus was talking about himself, so they asked him what miraculous sign he would do so they could believe in him (keep in mind that he had just fed 5,000 men with a few pieces of food!). Moses gave them the manna in the wilderness – what could Jesus give them?
Jesus told them that it was “not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33).
That sounded too good to miss – they wanted this bread and all the time. That was when Jesus explained who he was.
“I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty…For this is the will of my Father – for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:35-40)
Bread they could understand, but not Jesus being the bread of life. So they began complaining – they knew who Jesus’ parents were, how could he say that he came down from heaven? Jesus explained a bit more: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).
That really confused them – how could Jesus give them his flesh to eat? That simply did not make any sense to them. What Jesus said next they absolutely did not comprehend.
“The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes me will live because of me…The one who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:52-58)
This was too difficult for them – many were offended and left.
But what does it mean? What Jesus was saying was that they needed to take him into their lives and allow him to live in them and they to live in him. He was talking about a person giving their life to him by accepting his teaching and believing in him. Jesus’ thoughts and character become part of us.
When we live this way, we will live forever – we will have eternal life.
Photo by Jon Galloway: the synagogue in Capernaum, built on the foundation of the one Jesus’ taught in
Readings for next week:
15 April – John 6
16 April – John 7
17 April – John 8
18 April – John 9
19 April – John 10