Monday, July 27, 2009

John 6:24-35 - Lectionary Gospel Lesson for August 2, 2009

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:

24Now when the crowd saw that Jesus wasn’t there nor were his disciples, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum because they were seeking Jesus. 25And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you; you seek me not because you saw signs but because you ate from the bread and were satisfied. 27Don’t work for the food that perishes, but for the food that remain into life eternal, which the son of man will give to you. For that one, God the Father certified." 28Now they said to him, "What should we do so that we might work the works of God?" 29Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you might believe in this one whom he sent." 30Now they said to him, "Now, what sign do you do, so that we might see and believe in you? What work? 31Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, just as it’s written, ‘Bread from heaven he gave them to eat.’" 32Now Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven, but my father gave you the real bread from heaven. 33For God’s bread is the one that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34Now they said to him, "Lord, always give us this bread." 35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life, the one who comes to me will absolutely never be hungry and the one who believes in me will absolutely never be thirsty ever.


  1. I was thinking about what makes us come to Christ and lay down our lives to him. It's not the fluff of beautiful buildings. It is the healing and change he brings to our personal lives that makes us true believers.

    Nancy DeStefano

  2. This text is a short commentary on the Exodus 16 and Psalm 78 texts that was developed in John 6 into an extended dialogue of reflection over the same feeding of the multitude story that had been incorporated into the Mark 6 account. Johannine studies during the past century have helped us to see that the extended dialogue in John 6 is also in many ways a recapitulation of the story of the development and experiences of the Johannine community, of its increasingly high Christology, its struggles with Jewish groups, and its determination of its own destiny. The John 6:24-35 text, therefore, is best understood as much more autobiographical of the Johannine community than it is biographical about Jesus.

    In retrospect, we may wish that the extended commentary on Exodus 16, the story of the development of the Johannine community and of its increasingly high Christology would have been done without the anti-Jewish polemic that is included in our gospel text for next Sunday. The anti-Jewish polemic in John 6:24-35 becomes more intense and bitter later in the John 6 dialogue where the Jews are represented as murmuring against the Johannine Jesus because he claims to be "the bread of life" and they do not believe in him. The anti-Jewish polemic becomes even more intense and bitter in chapters 7-9 in the Gospel According to John, especially within John 8.

    We are called to proclaim next Sunday that Jesus is indeed "the true bread from heaven," the "bread of life," and to declare that whoever comes to Jesus will never hunger and whoever believes in Jesus will never thirst. At the same time, we realize, however, that in spite of the activities of Jesus during the 1st century of the common era and in spite of our faith in God and in Jesus as the Risen Christ, we and others still become hungry, and we still become thirsty. Millions of people each year die after suffering from hunger and thirst. The life that is provided is eternal life, at least within the context of this Fourth Gospel. We see also that Christian hymns such as "O Bread of Life from Heaven" are to John 6:24-35 what Psalm 78:23-29 is to Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15. At the same time, we who are relatively well fed have a responsibility that is much greater than the responsibility of those who developed our biblical traditions, a responsibility to work to develop food sources and to oppose those whose greed and oppression cause so many people in our time to suffer and to die because of lack of food and of good water to drink.

  3. Here's another classic example of John's use of misunderstanding to make his point. Although Jesus and crowd use the same words, they mean something very different. As I start to prepare the sermon, I think I'll draw a contrast between what Jesus is saying and what the crowd is hearing.