Sunday 12 August 2018

Bible Book:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life.’” (v. 35a)

John 6:35, 41-51 Sunday 12 August 2018

Psalm: Psalm 34


Sometimes it seems like much of life is about feeding different kinds of hunger. Hunger for security keeps us in jobs we might be less than thrilled with. Hunger for youth keeps us buying new face potions and firming creams. Hunger for new life keeps our malls open and online shopping busy. And in all this, we in the west consume far more than we need: we keep buying and getting when our closets are already full. We end up throwing away food.

Jesus offers an end to this insatiable hunger, this cycle of anxious consumption: “…Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (v. 35).

The statement “I am the bread of life” is one of the seven mysterious and evocative ‘I AM’ statements in John’s Gospel, in which Jesus builds a picture of how he relates to God the creator, and also how he expects to relate to people on earth. Others of these ‘I am’ statements include “I am the gate” (John 10:7) and “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14).

The ‘I AM’ reminded the Gospel’s first audience of the voice that spoke to Moses from the burning bush: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I AM” has sent me to you.”’” (Exodus 3:14) Jesus makes this link specific, speaking of the manna the Israelites were fed with when starving in the wilderness with Moses (verses 49-51, referring to Exodus 16). They had escaped slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt, but were starving: God fed them with manna that fell from heaven every night, but disappeared after the first day. Jesus contrasts this constant need for more with a permanent gift of fullness in the bread he offers.

But the people listening to Jesus’ teaching misunderstood entirely. Jesus continued to explain, but did not dumb down or make his message less mysterious. Those who heard and understood, heard and understood. Many also in the verses to come would stop following Jesus because this teaching was too difficult (John 6:60, 66-69).

To Ponder

  • What do you hunger for?
  • Many of our consumer goods are made in factories with low pay and poor conditions. Do you think we would consume less if we could see the conditions of production up close? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel about the notion of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood in Holy Communion?
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