Tenth Sunday after Trinity 12.8.12 John 6.35, 41-51

4 08 2012

Bread Again

We are still in the spiritual bakery. Whatever else we do we must not grumble.

John 6.35, 41-51

35 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ 43Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

Reflections and Questions

‘I am the bread of life’ v 35, 48

This has become a refrain. See also v 51 ‘I am the living bread’.

Before you get bored with the refrain ask yourself some questions:  Why is this point made so repeatedly? What is the deep truth here?  And the reflective one: what is my refrain?

Alternatively,  if you did not follow-up this idea last week, try it now:

This is only one of Jesus’ ‘I am’ sayings in John. He is also: ‘light of the world’, ‘gate’, ‘good shepherd’, ‘resurrection and life’, ‘way, truth and life’, and ‘true vine’,

What might a visual representation of all these together look like? Why not design an ‘I am’ stained glass window’ or write an ‘I am’ poem?  Let your imagination go!

‘complain’  v41 and v 43

This word should take your imagination back to the wilderness wanderings of the ancient Hebrews.  They complained, murmured or grumbled against Moses. See, for example, Exodus 14.

Hopefully your refrain is not in the idiom of complaint or grumble. But there is a lot of grumbling about. Do you need to preach a sermon about grumbling?  By which I mean, does your congregation need to hear a sermon about grumbling? (BTW  There is a chapter about grumbling in my book ‘Barefoot Disciple’ – see the link on the sidebar. Just so you know, I am against it.)

‘flesh’ v 55

The very last word of the reading completes the punchline. It connects us back with the opening verses of John – ‘the word became flesh’. And notice (again, see last week’s comments if you like) ‘ that the word ‘give’ is pivotal. It is the bread that I will ‘give’.

The giving of flesh as bread is for ‘the life of the world’.  What can you say about the quality of this ‘life’? What adjectives can you use?  (Hint: ‘new’ might be one of them.)

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