Day 141 – The Bread of Life

I have discovered that if I really want to be heard, I repeat myself. Alot.

If my kids don’t do what I say, they get so annoyed at the repetition that they stop to inform me so. Then I finally have their attention and can ask them one last time to do what I want. That’s when it gets done (after a few excuses are dealt with).

Repetition works. And, yes, I know, it goes against all those childrearing manuals that talk about first time obedience. Sigh.

It does make me feel a bit better to know that Jesus did it. In fact, He repeats Himself a lot in the last half of John 6. Alot.

Here are some of the repeated words and phrases:

  • Bread16 (sixteen!) times in 27 verses (6:22-59  NIV)
  • Bread from heaven, bread that comes down from heaven, or bread that came down from heaven  – 8 times. The first references is to manna; the rest, to Jesus.
  • Believe  – 6 times
  • Come or comes to me – 6 times (the last one in vs. 65)
  • Flesh6 times
  • Blood5 times
  • Raise them up at the last day4 times

So, I guess Jesus is trying to make a point (or a few points…). And to make sure his hearers really listen. He expounds on the topic of bread the day after miraculously feeding 5000 – with bread. So the topic is on everyone’s mind.

What kind of bread is Jesus?  When Jesus talks about bread in reference to Himself, He says that He is the true bread, the bread of God, the bread of life, the living bread, and that “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” vs. 51b This bread does not come from Moses, but from the Father.

What does the bread do?  Jesus also says that when people eat of this bread, they will never be hungry (or thirsty). They will not die, but they will live forever (He says this last twice). Jesus gives “food that endures to eternal life.” (vs. 27)

Who eats the bread of life?  “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.” vs. 40. And these shall be raised up at the last day.

Who believes?  Those who come to the Son. And how do they come? They come when the Father gives them to the Son, draws them, and enables them to come. These people come when they have “heard the Father and learned from him.” (vs. 45)

The bread metaphor makes sense to me.  As I thought about how much Jesus repeated Himself  here, it seemed to me that He wanted to make sure His synagogue audience heard and listened. Even though only those who were being drawn would truly “hear” Him.

But there’s one part of  whole bread passage that gets a bit hinky. It even sends His disciples over the edge:

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. vs. 54-56

Frankly, if someone told me I’d have to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life, I’d have a few questions, too. Are we talking vampires or something here?

Obviously it’s a pre-reference to the Lord’s supper and Jesus’ death. But why talk about ingesting Jesus (and any Jew would be further offended because it was wrong to drink the blood of a sacrifice). What can this more intense metaphor mean?

  • The ESV Study Bible equates ingesting with belief. We believe and receive the death of Jesus’ flesh, the shedding of His blood, as the atoning sacrifice for our own sins.
  • Another commentary (NIV Study Bible) pointed out that ingesting means that we take Jesus’ death for us into our lives. It didn’t just happen – it happened for us. It’s ours.
  • I also think there’s a way in which when we ingest Jesus’ sacrifice, it’s as if we replace our flesh and blood with His: “He lived the life we couldn’t live and He died the death we should have died.” When we “ingest” Jesus’ flesh and blood, His life and death replace ours.
  • The New Geneva Study Bible says that the idea of ingesting shows how intimate our union with Jesus becomes through His death. We become one with Him – we abide in Him, and He in us. The ESV Study Bible indicates this is also a foreshadowing of our marriage to Jesus, when our union is complete.

Okay. Sunday School lesson complete. Goodnight!

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 11:1-12:31,  Psalm 65:9-13, Proverbs 16:22-24, John 6:22-59. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).

2 thoughts on “Day 141 – The Bread of Life

  1. the ingesting the flesh and blood bit reminds me of the reasons some cultures have given for why they eat the heart or other parts of a conquered enemy… to gain some of their strength, power, energy…

    as for first time obedience? It sounds nice in theory, but it seems to me that most of the ways of obtaining it create a rather mindless compliance that could be dangerous — as messy and annoying as it can be, I’d rather have a kid who questions, negotiates, and pursues her own desires and interests.

  2. I really like your post. I like the way you relate parenting repetition to Jesus’ repetition – it’s true, and I hadn’t considered this before! I struggle with repetition as a parent too, and it makes me feel better to think of Jesus gently reminding us of his lessons, such as with the bread of life analogies. Thanks for this food for thought 🙂

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