- Religion and Philosophy
John's Gospel -a new look no9
John 6:1-71 The bread of life.
John does not record the parables and pithy sayings of Jesus as the other Gospel writers do. He is not interested in recording many of the events in the life of Jesus although he was well aware of them ("What we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, and what we have touched with our own hands" 1 John 1:1) The historical Jesus is approached from a different view. It is not that John did not know about the events that he and the other Apostles shared with Jesus, they are just not important to his aim in the 4th Gospel.
He rather focuses on the grand themes of God’s eternal plan. He builds his Gospel around seven signs or miracles that Jesus did, and uses them to show who Jesus was. In the long 6th chapter (71 verses) he introduces the concept of Jesus being the bread of life.
Today many in our world are starving to death, be it in the slums of Mumbai or the rural areas of Somaliland or Swaziland. As drought and poverty takes its toll the majority of people in the world will go to bed hungry today and really most of those who have enough to eat don't really care. All the statistics seem to indicate that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. And so life goes on with many just struggling to survive.
The trouble is that there is an even greater famine in the world. Spiritually today many are starving to death! The bread of life is missing in the hearts and minds of the rich and poor. This spiritual starvation known no social boundaries. The Son of God, who came to give us the sustenance that leads to eternal life, is either ignored or pushed aside like a dry crust of bread on the plate of those who eat well.
As John approaches the important theme of Jesus being the bread of life two miracles occur in this chapter. Firstly Jesus shows his compassion to the hungry crowd who had come out to hear him teach by feeding 5000 plus with 5 small barley loaves and two small fish. Jesus links this miracle with God’s provision of salvation. As God provided for his people in the wilderness during the sojourn in the wilderness he today reaches out to us with the "Good News" of salvation.
The image in Ezekiel of the valley of dry bones (Ez. 37) is as real in todays world as it was in the time of the prophet. "The hand of the Lord was with me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; It was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, 'Son of man can theses bones live?' (NIV) Many are alive physically but dead spiritually today and are figurative lying in a valley of dry bones..
Then as Jesus walks on stormy water to join his disciples in the boat as they cross the lake of Galilee towards Capernaum he illustrates the power that God has over nature.Then follows the powerful teaching about Jesus being the bread of life. He had already claimed to be able to supply “living water”, in his discussion with the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well.
The response to this long and interesting teaching is that some found his teaching hard to understand. They decided to leave him and “followed him no more”.(vs 66) Some find the same problem today! On his question to those who were still following him, “will you also leave me? It was Simon Peter who replied in the negative “to who shall we go, you have the words of life!”
He still has the words of life today. If you open your mind and your heart to God’s great message of love you can share in the promises that he has made when he said "I am the way, the truth and the life".(John 14:6) Unfortunately many souls are thirsty and hungry spititually in today’s materialistic and lost world because they do not “thirst and hunger after righteousness.” (Mt 5:6) To miss out on the blessings of the “new life” that Jesus came to deliver is sad. It’s your choice however and the result of your choice today will decide where you will spend eternity!