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:
- Bread – 16 (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)
- Flesh – 6 times
- Blood – 5 times
- Raise them up at the last day – 4 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 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).