The Bread of Life

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 56, 57, [58] (Morning)
Psalm 64-65 (Evening)
Gen. 19:1-17(18-23)24-29
Heb. 11:1-12
John 6:27-40


The Bread of Life

In the passage this morning Jesus is confronted by a crowd looking to short the market. Jesus has presented himself as a remarkable teacher (they call him “Rabbi”) able to perform works beyond explanation. Just before this scene in northern Galilee, Jesus had feed five thousand people. And yet the crowd before him asks for more. They want to secure Jesus’ value without really buying in to the message Jesus has offered. Give us a sign, they ask him.

Perhaps they were looking for a more traditional messiah. A messiah that could shore up the wealth and security of Israel’s fractured (and occupied) society. Perhaps a messiah like Moses who led them out of Egypt, into the promised land, and provided them with all their physical needs (manna from heaven). Jesus uses this moment to underline that he is not interested in earthly rule. He is not a traditional messiah and not interested in buying off the people with an endless supply of bread.

If he’s not interested in that, then what? The Gospel of John is a wonderful, complex book. Jesus’ answer is that to really believe in him means entering into the mysterious life of God. Later in John Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” (Jn. 14:6) and reminds his followers that “I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you” (Jn 14:20). Believing in Jesus is not about magic or worldly power but about living the message that Jesus embodied. About giving over to the love and mercy and forgiveness of God.

Eternal life is not a really great vacation after death. Rather, as the prophet Micah says,

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what the Lord requires of you:

But to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

 


Joshua Daniel, Ph.D.

Joshua is serving as St. Paul’s seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he is (God willing) in his final year of graduate school.

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