Flesh and Bread
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “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’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” ~ John 6:35,41-51
This passage takes place immediately after the last passage from John in the Bread of Life discourse. In fact, it includes the line that finished the last passage.
So what makes the Bread of Life discourse so important that the lectionary includes it in multiple weeks?
Imagine you are a first century Jew listening to Jesus speak these words? How crazy would they sound?
The bread he gives for the world is his flesh? What?
I think these words are still difficult for us today. We use them often as a way to describe our participation in Holy Communion, but it is still hard to wrap our minds around.
Maybe that's why we get this whole discourse. Maybe so we get to hear this message from Jesus over and over again. Maybe that's why just reading the Bible cover to cover once isn't enough. Jesus was great at repeating his message to get things to sink in with his followers. He seemed to know that it might take us a while to get it.
Gracious God, help us to hear your message, even when it is difficult to understand. Amen