At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
”Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
"This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
Bread. Flesh. Given. Of course the Eucharist springs to mind. But I think there's something more than just a reference to the sacrament going on here.
Just the day before, the crowds didn’t "get it" when Jesus fed the five thousand from some kid’s lunchbox. Whoa! Awesome trick! Who is this guy? Maybe there’s more where that came from!
Jesus tries to explain, but he can’t get through to them. All you want is more bread. More bread? You should want so much more! I'm here to give you the kind of bread that will nourish eternal life inside you. All you've got to do is believe in me, Jesus says.
First we want more proof, they say. Loaves and fishes are nice, but how about calling down some manna? That’s something they say the Messiah will be able to do. Then comes the show-stopper: “I am the bread of life…I have come down from heaven.”
"At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’" From heaven? Yeah, right. We know where you live.
I recall reading somewhere that manna was often a symbol for the Torah. At Mount Sinai, the Torah, too, came down from heaven. So the Israelites liked to speak of Torah as manna, the wisdom and the word coming down like angelic bread from heaven, the candid disclosure of God’s holy and gracious heart.
To hear and believe Torah, to be nourished and filled by God’s Word, to let it guide all your steps, was to come to know God in the most intimate way. It was to learn how to live and flourish in His presence. It was joy and delight.
It was REAL LIFE, clear-headed and astonishing.
Not so long ago, Jesus scolded his disciples when they tried to press some pita sandwiches on him: “My food is to obey the will of the one who sent me, and to finish the work he gave me to do” (4:34).
These are words spoken by a man who KNEW intimate communion with the Father, and the deep joy and liberty of conforming his own will to that best and most beautiful Will.
Now, here is Jesus, claiming that HE HIMSELF is God’s Torah, God’s Word which “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). Everything Jesus shows us comes straight from the heart of the Father.
And the disclosed Word is this: I love you. I love you. I love you so much I will lay down my life for you. I call you “friends.”
Hear and believe this Word, Jesus says, trust with your life the One who sent it, and it’s yours, always. This Word will be very near you, in your mouth and in your heart.
Let me nourish you with this Word, Jesus says, let me refresh and sustain you with my own life. Walk with me. Let my will become your will. Share in my joy, my delight. Live life to the full. Live forever....