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Sunday, August 12, 2012

John Chapter 6 - The Bread of Life Discourse John 6:41-51

John 6:41-51The Bread of Life

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever
." (John 6:51)

Last week Jesus opened the conversation on the Bread of Life with, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35) In today’s Gospel the discourse continues with the Jews rather indignant response to Jesus’ prophetic proclamation, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”(John 6:41-42)

 What Jesus had said was too difficult for the crowd to understand and believe; they could only see him as a carpenter’s son. How could this son of Joseph and Mary, be the True Bread come down from Heaven?

On a side note, it is interesting, and probably no coincidence, that the crowd’s response to Jesus is the same as the Israelite’s response to Moses and Aaron in the Old Testament, grumbling and murmuring. (Exodus 16:2-8) It seems that whenever God's people (myself included) grow impatient or confused they complain until God in His mercy sets them straight.

In fairness, it is not uncommon, in the Gospels, for Jesus to be misunderstood by those who hear him. For example in Matthew 16:6-12, Jesus warns the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The disciples concluded that Jesus is telling them about bread when they respond, “It is because we have brought no bread.”

The disciples mistook Jesus as speaking literally here, when he was really speaking metaphorically. Jesus wasted no time in correcting the disciples by saying, “You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand…How do you not comprehend that I was not speaking to you about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

In this passage from Matthew, Jesus speaks metaphorically about food, the disciples mistakenly interpret his words literally and Jesus quickly corrects them by explaining he was not speaking literally, but rather metaphorically.

In today’s Gospel and for the remainder of the Bread of Life Discourse, the opposite will be true; Jesus speaks literally, but the crowds as they attempt to understand him will interpret his words metaphorically.

How does Jesus respond to the crowds murmur and lack of understanding? Immediately and quite forcefully, he says, “Stop murmuring among yourselves,” then continues, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:47-51)

The Bread of Life Discourse will continue next Sunday with the crowd's response to Jesus' literal description of his flesh as the Living Bread from Heaven.

Part Four John Chapter 6:51-58
For devotional items related to the Catholic faith
please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures  
Institution of the Eucharist - van Wassenhove

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