Origin is everything. If I know where something comes from, I get an idea of it’s quality or reliability. Branding is built on this premise. So companies like In-N-Out spend careful consideration in how they prepare their hamburgers on fresh bread so I will enjoy their Double-Doubles and come back for more.
Last week, we asked the question, “Who Is Jesus?” and learned He is the bread of life. Responding to the crowd, Jesus clarified what the Father’s will for them was: “…to believe in the one whom he sent” (Jn 6:29). Believe in the one (i.e. Jesus) whom He (i.e. the Father) sent. As the story unfolds, this idea of Jesus coming from His Father will get the crowd’s blood boiling.
Grumbling, the Jews said, “…Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (Jn 6:42) These Jews knew Jesus’ origin—or so they thought. They heard rumors of Mary having Jesus from another man who wasn’t her husband Joseph. Jesus was a… well, you know. So the crowd, after hearing Jesus’ bold claims, raised their eyebrows upon hearing Him say, “…I am the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:41). To them, Jesus was merely an illegitimate carpenter’s son from Nazareth. He didn’t come from heaven.
Jesus told them everyone who believes has everlasting life and that He was the bread of life. Then Jesus reminded the crowd about their family history. He pointed out their grandpas and grandmas ate the manna in the wilderness but died. Although the manna came down from heaven, it met their physical need but not their spiritual need.
The crowd, still unclear of what point Jesus was making, narrowed their eyebrows and leaned forward. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever…” (Jn 6:51). Jesus was relating Himself to the manna. Not only did both come from heaven, but Jesus transcended the manna because He provided eternal life and the flakey substance did not. The crowd must have pondered, Ok teacher, but what is it we are to eat?
Jesus continued and told them His bread was His flesh. “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” they reacted. Common, this guy is crazy. Flesh? The crowd stirred and became fidgety. A low rumble of conversation unfolded. They just couldn’t believe what Jesus was telling them.
The table was now prepared for Jesus to clearly reveal how they were to have eternal life. “…I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:53-54). Did He just say drink His blood? the crowd would have thought. Didn’t Moses tell us not to drink blood? “…by no means eat the blood, for the blood is life itself…” (Deut 12:23)
The crowd had enough and left. They couldn’t accept what Jesus was telling them. “This is a difficult saying!” they exclaimed. And so “After this many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer” (Jn 6:66). They tossed aside the bread of life and departed.
Turning to His disciples, Jesus asked a question that may also be applied to you, the reader: “…You don’t want to go away too, do you?” (Jn 6:67)
Scripture and/or notes quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org All rights reserved.