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Monday, 17 October 2011

Day 291: The bread of life

John reflects theologically on the feeding of the 5000 as he describes one of Jesus’ arguments with the Jews.
The people seek Jesus
John 6:22-24
Jesus teaches about spiritual food
John 6:35-33
Jesus the bread of life
John 6:34-59
Many disciples desert Jesus
John 6:60-71
The hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees
Matthew 15:1-9, Mark 7:1-13
Things that make a person unclean
Matthew 15:10-20, Mark 7:14-23

In a manner reminiscent of his discussion with the woman of Samaria, Jesus begins telling the crowds that they shouldn’t be looking for bread, but looking for BREAD. I am the bread of life, he tells them. They are skeptical, this is just Joseph’s son, how can he be the bread from heaven? Jesus insists, and makes it more graphically clear by saying that they must eat his flesh. This idea clearly repels people, but Jesus doesn’t care, he just repeats it more and more graphically.
This is a stumbling block for many. Even the 12 disciples are taken aback. Jesus asks if they want to leave him, but Peter says for them all, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Matthew and Mark record another argument with the scribes and pharisees, about what makes someone unclean. For the Jews, it’s to do with externals, for Jesus, it’s internals. This is another example of Jesus being out of step with Jewish thinking. We’ve seen how he thought good could positively affect evil, as opposed to worrying that evil will corrupt good. Now he tells his opponents that it’s not what they take on board they should worry about, it’s what they give out.

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