7 July 2020John 6:30-40
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’ (v. 35)
Psalm: Psalm 71:1-16
The crowds have picked up the reference to the Exodus. They have Moses in mind and the manna that their ancestors received in the desert. So, amazingly, they ask Jesus for a sign. One might ask where this crowd has been. How short is their memory? Have they already forgotten that Jesus fed them on the hillside? Jesus reminds them of a very important fact – namely that it was not Moses who gave the people manna in the desert but God. "It is the bread of God which comes down from heaven that gives life to the world."
So the crowd, still far from understanding what Jesus is talking about, ask Jesus to give them this true bread. Here one is reminded of the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well and the discussion about physical water and the water of life.
Verse 35 removes all ambiguity. Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." From this point onwards until the end of the chapter the question of who Jesus actually is comes to the fore. But what a leap of understanding this revelation demanded. This passage underscores the difficulty of faith – the intellectual, cultural and even religious barriers in the way of true belief.
The passage also introduces the idea of eternal life – a quality of life in both the here and the hereafter which will be further explored in the rest of the chapter.
- The identity of Jesus is a theme found throughout the Gospel accounts. We remember Jesus asking his close disciples, "Who do you say I am?" in the context of the Transfiguration. This is as much a question for us as it was for them. Who do we say Jesus is?
- We can feel a frustration at the attitude of the crowd in this passage who repeatedly keep asking for signs. Are there ways, perhaps more nuanced, in which we continue to display this behaviour in our faith?