Short Meditations in John 6: 50. Grab the Opportunity
Jn 6:50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die
I don’t know if you have ever come across ‘painting by numbers’? It involves having a pre-printed picture with each part of the picture has a number in it so perhaps 1 may represent white, 2 may be blue, 3 may be red, 4 may be green and so on, and the idea is you paint in the areas so numbered with the appropriate colour. To start off it appears a number of shapes and numbers but as you add the colour, so the picture comes into focus. I feel this chapter is like that.
We’ve had the feeding of the five thousand. We’ve had the crowd finding Jesus. We’ve had talk of their wants – more bread. We’ve had talk of manna and now of bread from heaven that brings eternal life and then we’ve had Jesus declaring he is that bread. The ‘picture’ should now be clear and obvious. They have, standing before them, the one from heaven whose life can bring them eternal life, but here’s the tricky bit, how do you ‘eat’ Jesus? We’re going to see shortly that this is going to be the stumbling block for the Jews (v.52)
We will see later that these Jews grumble amongst themselves again revealing bad hearts. If they had been open to Jesus and wise, their response would have been, “Lord, teach us how to feed on you.” Instead they just grumble. Talking to Jesus when you don’t understand is the answer, the path to wisdom, not just grumbling.
I suspect if they had done that Jesus might have said something like, “Follow me, learn of me, live with me, watch me, share with me, encounter me, share your life with me and let me share my life with you, join with me in doing the things our Father wants us to do.” That, I suggest, is ‘eating Jesus’, taking Jesus into your life, absorbing him, feeding on him. At another time he said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” (Mt 11:29) (see it beautifully in the Message version).
But there is another thing here. Years later, possibly as many as seven decades later, John was able to look back on those wonderful years when he and the others had walked with Jesus for three years, and their lives had been utterly changed in that most incredible and amazing time. He had that testimony – but probably most of these Jews hadn’t; they hadn’t taken the opportunity that God was offering them. Instead they grumbled. The early disciples are examples of those who simply heard, “Follow me…” and did without lots of caveats, lots of conditions and questions (although they had them and had opportunity in the days ahead to ask them), they just followed. That’s what disciples of Jesus do, and that is what distinguishes them (us?) from the rest of the world.