Metaphorically Speaking

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  John 6:51.

 No where is there a more poignant argument for what Jesus does for us than this passage.  When Jesus says “bread,” we think about loaves of wheat or white, but at this point I don’t think He’s talking just about food, do you?  What “bread” does for a person is sustain their life, but not only keep them alive, for it gives necessary energy to accomplish love, work, celebration, faith, hope, family, fun, and more.  Without food we die, it’s that simple.

So when Jesus calls Himself the “bread of life” or the “living bread that came down from heaven,” He’s telling us metaphorically that He is the essence of life.  With all that bread does for us, He created the possibilities; nothing has life in and of itself, for all things are for Him, to Him and from Him; nothing was made without Him.  His death and resurrection would bring life to the world.

The very life coursing through our veins is His energy in us.

When He speaks of eternal life, Jesus isn’t merely pointing to a meaningless existence where the years roll by endlessly without point or purpose.  No, He offers us more life than we’ve ever known or been able to imagine.  How do I know this to be what He promises?  Scripture tells us so.

When things are repeated in Scripture, it means the writer or God wants us to get a specific point.  The phrase Jesus keeps saying,  “and I will raise him up at the last day,”  is said four times in this chapter to emphasize what?  The resurrection specifically?  Yes, but also to point out the fact that the world cannot defeat those who are in Christ.  The believer cannot lose by dying because it is merely a state of rest before the morning dawns.  Yet raising a man up not only means Jesus will raise us bodily from grip of death, but also exalt us to be with Him forever.

There is a caveat, however, to all this promise of reward, for Jesus tells them,  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…”  which makes it impossible to miss the point.  In another reference to this Jesus claimed,  “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  Everyone is called to salvation, life and obedience.  God calls us all to reconcile with Him and forgives our past with the blood of Jesus.  However, if someone refuses this call, they cannot be chosen for life because the only life that can endure eternity is one purified by the blood of the Lamb.

The Jews believed they were listening and understanding God.  Jesus disabuses them of that notion by giving them a sign of their disobedience to Scripture,  “It is written in the Prophets:  ‘They will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me.”  By default the opposite is true as well, those who don’t listen to the Father will not come to Jesus.  In other words these very people who were so educated in the Law and Prophets and considered themselves careful observers of both, demonstrated by their unbelief they hadn’t listened to the Father.  So not everyone who says,  “Lord, Lord” will enter eternal life.

Now the Master confronts their argument about manna, which they used to pressure Him into giving them a sign again.  It didn’t make sense before today to me why they were calling on this fact from history thinking it would persuade Christ to act, but now I think I grasp what they were saying.  Manna fell every morning before dawn like dew or frost on the ground.  Every morning the Children of Israel would gather enough food for the day except on the weekly Sabbath.  The Jews who had eaten across the lake the day before, were insinuating Jesus should feed them daily as a sign of His authority.

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.  I am the bread of life.  Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.”  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”

He totally annihilates their argument.  The Jews in the wilderness were disobedient even though they had a daily demonstration of God’s provision.  In fact, those above a certain age were forbidden to enter the promised land because of their lack of faith.  You remember when the 12 explorers came back with their stories of how powerful the Canaanites were, the entire camp grew so afraid they were ready to stone Moses and Aaron.  Because of their lack of faith they died in the wilderness.

Jesus reminds them of the fact that their forefathers had the sign of the manna everyday yet still didn’t believe.  If manna didn’t save the people in the wilderness, another meal wouldn’t be enough to save those challenging Jesus.  Only those who believe can enter the promised land.

I’m pretty sure because of the conversation which follows His nuanced reference to their forefathers’ unbelief angered them.  He refused to give them any more evidence than what they had already received as assurance of His good will and power.  From here on He (and G0d the Father) would require them to step out in faith based on the evidence at hand.  Those wanting a free ride resented and resisted His efforts to point them in the right direction.

The question John’s gospel asks us is:  Will we?

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One Response to “Metaphorically Speaking”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Puts things in perspective doesn’t it? The fact that we see just as the forefathers saw and yet we don’t have the faith to follow only proves we think we know better. In our eyes it service to the Father simply can’t be that easy.

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