7 June 2017

John 6:44-51

“Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (v. 47)

Psalm: Psalm 146


"Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven"?" (John 6:42)

This scornful response of Galileans to Jesus' claims about his origins brings a repost in which Jesus is explicit both about where and who he has come from and about where those who believe in him can expect their journey to take them.

Jesus firstly explains his relationship to God the Father. It the Father who enables a response to the Son (verse 44), the Father whose teaching reveals the need for that response (verse 45, paraphrasing Isaiah 54:13), andthe Father whose revelation comes through the Son who uniquely has seen God (verse 46). In these verses Jesus is leaving no misunderstanding as to the unity of the Father and the Son in essence and in purpose.

Jesus then underlines that the divine purpose is the salvation of those who believe in him (verse 47). He has already spoken of resurrection to eternal life (verse 44) and now he outlines using the metaphor of bread to describe how he will give that resurrection life to those who receive him, just as bread nourishes those who eat it. Like the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16) this bread originates in heaven, but unlike the manna in the wilderness, this bread does not give life for a limited time (verse 50) but for eternity. All bread though, has to be received and ingested to be efficacious.Jesus' gift of his flesh on the cross is for the whole world yet it too has to be embraced and internalised for it to be the bread of life; "whoever eats of thisbread will live forever" (v. 50).

To Ponder

  • Do you have preconceived ideas about people based upon their origins which hinder us seeing Christ in and through them? If so, how might you open your eyes?
  • "Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread" (D T Niles). How helpful is this image for the church's mission and evangelism? What other one(s) can you think of?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Tim Woolley

The Revd Dr Tim Woolley is superintendent minister of the Hinckley Circuit in Leicestershire and an adjunct faculty member at Cliff College. Tim has a passion for Wesleyan theology and for fresh ways of being church and doing evangelism, and he is a vice chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together.