Eating

jesus-and-disciples47 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.  48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 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.”

The expression “Amen, amen, I say to you” (v. 47) also signals the beginning of a new section in the discourse (as before in 5:19, 24–25; 6:32). Yet this section opens with a reprise of familiar Johannine themes: The believer receives eternal life (6:27, 40); Jesus is the bread of life (6:35). These themes provide the theological grounding for what follows. As in 5:19–30, here the Fourth Evangelist advances Jesus’ argument by placing what Jesus has said previously in a new context. The interweaving and overlapping of theological themes evident here and throughout Jesus’ discourses help to create a cohesiveness of theological perspective throughout the Fourth Gospel Continue reading

Coming to the Lord

jesus-and-disciples43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.

Jesus now addresses the crowd for a second time and tells then to stop their grumbling. Then he repeats the saying of v.37, but in a slightly stronger form. In v.37 the word “come” (hēxei) is future, active voice and means that the person (subject) will be in the process of “coming.” But in v.44 the subject is God who will helkysē (draw, haul by force – EDNT v.1:435) the person to him. Continue reading

Grumbling

jesus-and-disciples41 The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” 42 and they said, “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’?”

Jesus’ words were not what the people wanted to hear. From the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 to the crowd’s references to mana in the desert, the context has been about bread they could eat. However, from v.35 onward, it is clear that Jesus’ meaning is about belief in himself, the one provides bread from heaven that last forever. The people are beginning to understand that they are not getting more bread and that this person before them is claiming to be someone greater than Moses. They rebel against the claims implied in what he said, feeling that they know very well who he is. In the face of this Jesus emphatically repeats his words. And the people grumble some more. Continue reading

Not losing anything

jesus-and-disciplesThis coming Sunday, the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we continue with the Gospel of John, chapter 6, the Bread of Life Discourse. This is the third of five Sundays from this important Johannine Eucharistic discourse. The sequence of Sunday gospels does leave out verses 6:35-41. The text from the 18th Sunday centers around Jesus challenging the people’s motivation for coming to Jesus. He tells them they only came to see more signs, eat their fill, but not really “work” for the bread that is eternal. The people not only do not understand Jesus’ point, but become bogged down in “what do I have to do to get it” as though they could accomplish this on their own talents and perseverance.  Continue reading

Metaphor? Sacramental?

John 6+crowd+feedingIs the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6), metaphor or sacramental? There are many commentaries and religious traditions that insist on a metaphorical interpretation of “eat” and “drink” and thus “eat” and “drink” as metaphors for belief.  There are some Catholic commentators (e.g. LaGrange) who insist there is no metaphor, that the entirety of Jesus’ discourse is sacramental/Eucharistic.  As Fr. Raymond Brown and Fr. Francis Moloney point out, the truly Catholic position is “both-and.”  What begins in John 6:22-50 as metaphor for belief, is ultimately answered in John 6:51-58 as Eucharist. With that in mind let us consider (a) a “big picture” view of this core question of John 6, but (b) fair warning: it does get a bit technical and dense in places. But give it a go!! Continue reading

Comes down from heaven

John 6+crowd+feedingWrapping up our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

32 So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

At verses 12 and 27 (gathering the fragments after feeding the crowd and referencing perishable food), Jesus implicitly linked the feeding miracle with the manna story of Exodus 16. In v.32, he does so explicitly. For the second time in this chapter Jesus prefaces his remarks with the solemn, Amen, amen, I say to you. Continue reading

The challenge

John 6+crowd+feedingContinuing our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

 30 So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Throughout vv. 27–31, Jesus and the crowd use the same words but with very different meanings, another instance of the Johannine literary technique of misunderstanding. The crowd’s questions in v. 30 repeat key words from vv. 26–29: “sign” (sēmeion, v. 26), “do” (poieō, v. 28), “see” (eidete, v. 26, idōmen, v. 30), “believe” (pisteuō, v. 29), “work” (ergazomai, vv. 27–28). They shift the burden of who is to work from themselves (vv. 27–29) to Jesus (v. 30). The crowd’s questions imply a contingency: They will do God’s work only if Jesus does God’s work first and performs a sign. Continue reading

For what are you working?

John 6+crowd+feedingContinuing our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

 27 Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” 28 So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” Continue reading

Why are you looking?

John 6+crowd+feedingContinuing our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

The implication of the narrative is the crowd who finally caught up with Jesus in Capernaum could not have known about the miraculous events (vv.16-21) of the evening nor would they have had an opportunity to react to the ego emini statement – to even ponder, “Who is this that calms the sea.” Their last encounter with Jesus was at the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and their desire then was to take Jesus by force and make him kind. It is at this point Jesus withdrew from them as the people wanted to remake the Messiah in their own conception. Jesus would not allow that; perhaps Jesus does not want to be found by the crowd “looking for Jesus.Continue reading

Come down from Heaven

John 6+crowd+feeding24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” 28 So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. (John 6:24-35) Continue reading