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The bread of heaven, John 6:52-65

19th Mar 2019

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”(NRSV)

As a disciple of Jesus, I had been near him when he fed the 5,000.  It was a miracle the likes of which I had never seen before and people were stunned, not to mention well fed. 

You would have expected people to flock to Jesus at the end of that and believe, but many did not.  I listened the next day in Capernaum as they argued about how they could possibly have eaten his body.  I was stunned as I heard his reply, “Unless you eat of the body of the Son of Man and drink of his blood, you will not have life, but whoever does eat and drink will be raised on the last day.”

Years later as I reflect on these words, I see little difference in people.  There are those who gladly feed on Jesus but then argue about his every word and there are those who feed on Jesus and yet genuinely do not yet understand.  But what about you and me?  Is it not true that we feed on Jesus regularly but then our own doubts creep in.  We wonder whether we have received enough from Jesus.  We worry about what we are supposed to do in response.  We query whether or not we have done enough to justify being fed by him.  In truth doubts can rage in our minds sometimes.  We perhaps become lost in the weekly services and wonder why we are not stimulated as once we were.

Maybe, it is as it was when I first heard Jesus explain these words.  I took them in and knew they meant something, but I was not sure how to respond.  Later I thought I understood, but there is always more to learn as I reflect on those words.

The key to it all is probably in what Jesus said next.  We need to understand that Jesus is from Father God.  We need to accept again and again that he is like no one else before or since.  Once we grasp that wonderful truth that he is from the Father then we should recognise our own security for Jesus himself told those early Jews that they only come to him if the Father has truly called them.

So like a little child running to the table of the family home when called by their parents and then enjoying food and time with them, let us remember we too can run to the Lord and feed from him, whatever state we are in, if we remember first we are called by the Father.

Mark Madeley, Distance Learning Tutor