16 July 2014John 6:41-51
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (v. 51)
Jesus has been speaking of himself as the "bread of life" (vv. 35, 48) and saying that coming to him is like eating bread such as never to be hungry. He has underlined that message with the assertion that he has come from heaven and that responding positively to him is what God desires.
Now there is the straightforward objection that Jesus is known to many, as are his family: he's grown up among them so how can he claim to have come from heaven? Jesus doesn't deny his family background but simply repeats that coming to him as the heavenly man is like eating bread from which you will never hunger and that coming to him is the will of God.
Having thus repeated his argument the significant addition comes at the close of the passage: "Whoever eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh". This is a plain reference to his death. In the verses that follow it will open up a further conversation, but for now we hold to the stark assertion that Jesus makes. For Jesus, his life's purpose is seen through the lens of his death.
- When someone dies and people begin to share their memories of the deceased we may find that, though we thought we knew them well, there's much we didn't know and missed out on. Familiarity can dull our ability to see afresh. How do we stay open to learning new things through longstanding relationships?
- There's much about modern society that leads us to be silent about death, but if Jesus sees the purpose of his earthly life through the lens of his death to what extent should we do the same? And how do we talk of it?
- The great Welsh hymn Guide me, O thou great Jehovah has the lines "Bread of heaven - feed me now and evermore". How does God feed you and your faith?