One thing we know about Jesus, he was terrible at PR….or at least he didn’t care about it. He makes bold statements that confuse his listeners and causes them to bristle and push back – but Jesus never flinches. He keeps right on pushing an agenda and worldview that completely upended the religious expectations of the day. It’s important that you understand, what Jesus is going to be saying in the verses we’ll be looking at is meant to be shocking. There was no age or culture where his words wouldn’t be weird and offensive. What we really want to consider is why Jesus would want to use such disquieting language.
We’ll be reading John 6:22-59 this Sunday. It’s the famous “Bread from Heaven/Bread of Life” discourse that Jesus gives.
As this section begins, Jesus makes a pretty clear delineation between physical and spiritual bread. What do think an example of spiritual bread is? How was looking for physical bread revealing bad motives for the crowd? When you consider your own relationship with Jesus – what kind of “bread” do you value most in life?
When the people realize that Jesus is describing something more than normal bread, they ask what they must do to work for the bread Jesus is describing. What is his answer? V29 is the key to understanding all the imagery Jesus will use in the rest of the passage.
Jesus ignores the growing hostility of the crowd and takes things even further – describing himself as the bread come from heaven that the manna from the Exodus story was simply foreshadowing. He describes his flesh and blood as elemental food and drink – what does that make us think of immediately? Jesus said that the bread that gives life to the world (v51) is his flesh. What do you believe this is a reference to? In what way can you imagine that Jesus’ flesh gives you life?
The language Jesus uses for eating grows progressively more intense as the discourse goes along. He begins by using a word that simply means to consume, but in the later verses of this passage, he says feed, which in the Greek is the word trogo, meaning to chew, crunch or gnaw. He’s talking about how it is that we believe on him – the intensity of the word he uses is trying to tell us something. What do you think it is?
This will be an admittedly heady study. It’s just the nature of this passage, and we certainly won’t plumb the depths of it by any means. We’ll only scrape the surface, but that in itself is a lot to wrestle with. Hope to see you Sunday!