by Christopher Harbin

Life Giving Bread
Christopher B. Harbin
John 6:35-51

We think of bread, or food, as sustaining life. We think of it as a necessity to prolong, extend, nurture, or make life possible. Jesus turned that image around as he did with so many others. He spoke of himself as bread, but as a bread that gave life, not simply extending or amplifying it in some way. He spoke of giving life in terms of making life a reality, perhaps of a different order than human existence, but making life real in a new manner. For many, that may seem like a simple semantic argument that makes no difference, but Jesus' words caused a stir on many occasions, and this was one of those. The people who heard him were confused by his teaching, as it did not mesh with the realities they knew and understood. He meant something more and different from the reality they knew. They just could not quite process Jesus' meaning.

From the context of today's narrative, you will remember that Jesus had just fed a crowd of five thousand men, along with women and children. They had searched for him and found him the next day, looking for more food. Jesus had spoken of a different reality they needed to be seeking. They needed something more than physical food for their bodily nourishment. They needed more than a show for entertainment. They needed a new relationship with Yahweh, the God of Israel. Rather than manna in the wilderness, they needed Yahweh in their lives full time.

Jesus spoke of several issues pertaining to access to this life. He said that all who would receive this life would do it coming to him. All who came to him would find acceptance. They would receive the life of the ages of which he taught. This was in agreement with the will of the God. Those who would listen to God would come to him. The purpose in all this was to grant life to the world.

Jesus' words did not sit well with all, for many of those hearing him were skeptical and concerned over the fact that he was calling atte ...

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