Miracles and Multitudes ~ Part 5
In our last post, we continued our new topic entitled Miracles and Multitudes. This post as we look at more Miracles and Multitudes.
Discourse On The Bread of Life ~ Part 4
We pick up where we left off last time, beginning with Yochanan 6:51. Here the Judeans question eating Yeshua’s flesh.
Yeshua’s teaching in this section repeats and reinforces the themes laid out in our last post. Belief in Yeshua leads to eternal life. He repeats the metaphor that He is the bread of life and heightens the contrast between the manna that provided only physical nourishment and the bread from heaven that provides eternal life. His teaching is interrupted again by the misunderstanding of the audience and their willful rejection of a spiritual concept they cannot understand.
51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as He taught at Capernaum.
I, for one, am delighted I grew up in the Episcopal Church. I was taught early on that His flesh and His blood are metaphorical. The Lord provides us with the Word of God and the Cup of Salvation. The symbolism of Holy Communion is still very deeply embedded in me.
The bread that I will give is my own flesh, and I give it for the life of the world …. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you (vv. 51, 53). Because of what Yeshua said here, the grumbling (v. 42) quickly became disputing (v. 52), then a hard saying they couldn’t bear to listen to (v. 60), and finally an insuperable barrier for many of His talmidim (not merely His casual hearers), who turned back and no longer traveled around with Him (v. 66).
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in Himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
The most literal sense of the text implies cannibalism, which, were it what Yeshua meant, would undoubtedly be an insuperable barrier to faith in Him. But even a high view of the inspiration of the Bible does not require the elimination of metaphorical and symbolic language. Although Yeshua’s particular hearers may have been either shocked at what He said or seeking an excuse for not obeying his call to repentance and loyalty, not every Jewish audience would have reacted that way.
66 From this time on, many of His talmidim turned back and no longer traveled around with Him.
Yeshua succeeded in winnowing out those who were not sincere or who found the cost of eating His flesh and drinking His blood too high.
67 So Yeshua said to the Twelve, “Don’t you want to leave too?” 68 Shim‘on Kefa answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the word of eternal life. 69 We have trusted, and we know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Yeshua answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is an adversary.” 71 (He was speaking of Y’hudah Ben-Shim’on, from K’riot; for this man – one of the Twelve! – was soon to betray Him.) ~ Yochanan 6:51-71.
In our next post, we will continue examining the Miracles and Multitudes series beginning in Mattitayhu 15:1-9.
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