John 6 = I Am the Bread of Life
Bible Background: The Feeding of the 5,000 is perhaps Jesus’ most memorable parable, and the only one recorded in all 4 gospels! But John doesn’t “do” ‘miracles’. John calls them ‘signs’. Signs point to something more! ‘Signs’ point us to Jesus! Also in John’s gospel, Jesus makes these powerful “I Am” claims. As chapter 6 unfolds, he says “I Am the Bread of Life!”
Digging Deeper: 1. Large crowds are following Jesus. They’ve seen what he could do for the sick! Now they wonder what he can do for them! It’s Jesus’ idea to feed the crowds. John makes it sound like Jesus is testing Philip by asking: Where are we to buy enough bread for all these people? Philip basically says: We can’t! We don’t have enough $$$! (We call that ‘scarcity’ thinking!)
2. Andrew has an idea “There is a boy here with 5 loaves and 2 fish! BUT, that’ll never be enough!” Andrew cuts off his own idea with the worry that it’s “not enough”. But it’s enough for a start! Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks, and distributes them. Same with the fish: “as much as they wanted!” “All you can eat!
3. And then there are leftovers! More leftovers than what they started with! Reminds us of Jesus’ first “miracle/sign” in John’s gospel: turning big jugs of water into huge quantities of wine! (How’s that for ‘abundance’ thinking?) Hmmm, add those two stories together: Lots of wine + Lots of bread = Lots of Holy Communion?
4. The people believe Jesus to be a prophet-someone sent from God; who is capable of great deeds because he comes from God! They have at least a partial understanding of who Jesus really is!
5. Later in chapter 6, Jesus chastises the crowds. No doubt some of them wanted him to be their ‘grocery store’, and have full stomachs. Jesus wants to offer them so much more. This is where he makes the claim: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty!”
6. Jesus’ words invite us to think about What are we (and others) really hungry for? What do we truly thirst for? Who and what can satisfy those longings? The Gospel of John’s answer to that would be: “Jesus. Only Jesus!”
7. People do need to be fed spiritually and physically. See how our offerings to our ELCA Hunger Appeal make a difference! https://elca.org/hunger