Lectionary Year B
August 13, 2000
John 6:35, 41-51

Step III: Immediate Context


[see JEA's sermon "Bread" from last week, August 6 !!!]

Pre: 6:22-35
The immediate context, I would suggest, actually begins with chapter 6 of John's gospel, i.e. the feeding of the five-thousand [and is interrupted by the pericope of Jesus' walking on the water]. After Jesus has withdrawn from the crow, people start looking for him and find him "on the other side (v.25)." He asserts that they came looking for him because they ate of the loaves and were filled. He demands work for the food of eternal life which the Son of Man will give -- God the Father has set his seal on this One (v.27). This sounds like a sure and certain promise. The kind of work, then, that is demanded of the believer is "to believe in him whom he has sent (v.29)." No one provides "manna from heaven" but God -- neither Moses, nor anyone else. And Jesus is the manna from heaven, "I AM the bread of life (v.35). Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Yet, the people have seen the bread coming down and do not believe. Only the Father can work this belief in them (v.37-38). The Father gave these believers to the Son who shall not lose anything that has been given to him, but raise it on the last day. This is the will of the Father (v.40).

Post: 6:52-59
The dispute about Jesus' flesh for food continues among the Jews. Jesus responds that it is necessary for anyone to have life to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man [is this a Eucharistic reference drawing from a liturgical practice/tradition of the Johannine community?] (v.53-55). If this practice is held up, Jesus will abide in the ones who practice it, and they will abide in him. Just as Jesus was sent by the living Father and lives on account of him, so will the believers live on account of their participation in the "Eucharist" (v.57). This "new" bread is nothing like their [i.e. the Jews] ancestors ate. The "old" bread provided only sustenance for life on earth, and then people died. But eating the "new" bread provides sustenance for the life eternal (v.58).

[Yet, many did not believe Jesus' words and left him. (v.67): "So Jesus asked the twelve: 'Do you also wish to go away?' (v.68) Simon Peter answered him: 'Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (v.69) We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.' (v.70) Jesus answered them: 'Did I not choose you? Yet one of you is a devil."]

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