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John 6:35-59, Bread of Life

Thursday, February 15

Bread of Life

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from Clergy Stuff.

Today's reading is a continuation of the story we read this past Tuesday from John 6:22-34. He clarifies specifically that he himself embodies all that which has come from the Father.

Naturally, the leaders don't like this too much. But, who could blame them? The Jewish authorities were, after all, monotheists. They believed in one God. How could this son of a carpenter—from Nazareth, of all places!—make such bold claims? As before, they completely misunderstand Jesus. They misinterpret his claim as the "bread of life" and understand the statement only literally. "He's telling us to eat his own flesh!" they exclaim.

Jesus then turns the confusion on its head and doubles down: "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink."

Bold statements, indeed. However, we who understand that Jesus will give of himself in the Lord's Supper (communion) understand that we partake in a mystery—God's own "flesh" becomes our "flesh" and we embody Christ as "little Christs" ourselves.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 6:35-59

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. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’

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 for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

Earlier Event: February 14
John 10:1-18, The Good Shepherd
Later Event: February 16
John 6:60-71, Words of Eternal Life