Proper 14, Year B: John 6:35, 41-51: Bread of Life

You can see all the lectionary readings for Proper 14, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.

In today’s story, people begin to complain that Jesus said he was the “the bread that comes down from heaven” but they know him as a local boy, son of Joseph. Jesus tells them to stop complaining. He goes on to talk about being sent from the Father and that anyone who believes has eternal life. He compares the bread of life to the manna sent down for the Israelites in the Old Testament.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my body. I will give my body so that the people in the world can have life.”

Those of us who participate in the weekly Eucharist are familiar with the imagery of the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ, but it can sound strange to people new to it, as it did to the people of that time. It can be a hard teaching–to understand and share the full and loving life Jesus calls us to, and the community we experience together in the Eucharist–a community reaching out to each other and up to a God who loves us and breaks bread with us.

Proper 13, Year B: John 6:24-35: Spiritual Bread

You can see all the lectionary readings for Proper 13, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.

After Jesus feeds the five thousand, he leaves the people behind. Then the people go looking for him and find him on the other side of the lake. He asks why they are looking for him–if it is only because they saw miraculous signs. He tells them they liked that he fed them, but earthly food doesn’t last long. He tells them to work for the food that gives them eternal life.  The Son of Man will give you that food. He is the only one qualified by God the Father to give it to you.” 

So the people ask what God wants of them and he tells them to believe in the one God sent. Then they ask for more miracles and talk about the manna God sent the Israelites in the desert.

Again, they seem focused on miracles but also mostly on physical food. As I said about last week’s passage, Jesus does care about their physical well-being, but he also cares about their souls.

I can assure you that Moses was not the one who gave your people bread from heaven. But my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. God’s bread is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

John 6:32-33 (Easy-to-Read Version)

So the people say,  “Sir, from now on give us bread like that.” I think they still probably don’t get it.

Jesus responds that he is the bread that gives life, and those who come to him will never be hungry or thirsty. This, again, seems to be about spiritual hunger and thirst, rather than physical. And again, this passage forecasts our Eucharist, when we receive physical bread but also the spiritual bread of Christ and his grace.

Proper 12, Year B: John 6:1-21: Abundance

You can see all the lectionary readings for Proper 12, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.

Most people know the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, so I won’t repeat it here. (You can click the link above if you do want to read it.) Instead, I’ll just talk about what it shows us. First, it shows us how large the crowds were following Jesus. People were hungry for what he was offering–healings, teaching, hope, love, grace. Second, it shows that Jesus had concern for people’s physical well-being as well as their spiritual well-being. He wants people to be fed. Third, it shows that he saw the value of one child’s contribution–so little could mean so much. Fourth, the miracle shows his great generosity–not only did everyone get fed, they even had leftovers. As another passage said, he came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. This is a great story of abundance. Fifth, it shows that when he thought the people wanted to make him king, he left as he wasn’t seeking an earthly kingdom. He spoke a lot about the kingdom of God and about the evils of the domination system of his time, but he did not seek to be a king of that sort. Sixth, it is a precursor to the Last Supper and our Eucharist–breaking bread together in the presence of Christ.

 

 

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B: Luke 24:36b-48: Breaking Bread (or Fish)

You can see all the lectionary readings for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Luke.

In today’s passage, we have another example of a post-Resurrection Jesus. He comes among his followers and tells them, “Peace be with you.” But they were afraid, thinking they were seeing a ghost. He reassures them and tells them to touch him and see that he has a living body. He shows them his hands and feet, with the scars of the crucifixion.

They are happy but still disbelieving, so he asks for food and he eats some fish. Then he reminds him that he has told them before that everything written in the prophets would have to happen to him. He explains the scriptures to them and tells them they must go and call on people to repent, starting with Jerusalem and then to the people of all the world.

I don’t know that Jesus ever actually told people before he died that he was destined to die and rise from the dead, but I think the key point here is Jesus’ presence and humanity. He comes to them as he had been before death–breaking bread and communing with them. Too often Christians miss the humanity of Jesus for the divinity of Jesus, but he is fully human and fully divine. The humanity is important. The eating, the scars, the presence is important. He doesn’t come back making a big flashy display but he comes back to them human and ready to break bread with them. Then he sends them forth to break bread with the world and share his love.