Today’s Scripture Focus: John 6:56-69
We have all heard the expression “you are what you eat”. We understand, of course, that this is to be taken figuratively. If we go to McDonald’s © we don’t walk out as a hamburger. When we say “you are what you eat”, what we really mean is if we eat only junk food and drink only soda water, we will probably experience lots of problems with our minds and bodies, while if we have a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, proteins, and good fats, we are much more likely to look better, feel better, and maintain overall good health. As we wind down John 6, we find Jesus using a very similar figure of speech.
The chapter begins with the miraculous feeding of the 5,000—one of the seven “signs” in John. It continues the next day when the crowd that had been fed by Jesus sought Him out to receive more. Jesus then began preaching on the bread of life. He was challenged by those listening. Was He greater than Moses, who provided manna in the wilderness? Jesus replied that it was God who provided bread from heaven, not Moses. Jesus then proclaimed “I am the bread of life”, one of the seven I AM statements in John. When Jesus revealed that He was the true bread from Heaven, the crowd grumbled and left, having not found what they wanted.
Having upset the crowd, Jesus continued teaching the disciples. This doesn’t mean just the Twelve, but a larger group—maybe 70-100—that had been following Jesus. To this group, Jesus began to teach that in order to belong to God, one must “eat and drink” the flesh and blood of Jesus. This caused a violent reaction. To the Jews, the drinking of any type of blood was clearly prohibited by scripture. When Jesus talked about His flesh and blood, the listeners understood this to mean the fat and the blood used in sacrifices that could never, ever be eaten by people—it belonged to God alone. Like the crowd, most of the disciples then left.
Jesus was then left with only the inner group of disciples—the Twelve. It was clear they also had trouble accepting Jesus’ teaching—but they stayed. To them, Jesus taught that they would see Him “glorified” and “lifted up”. He was talking about His sacrificial death. Literal flesh and blood was powerless to give spiritual life, but when Jesus flesh was pierced and blood was shed, those who accepted it would receive its nourishing benefits. What Jesus is teaching His followers is that you are what you eat—if you fill your life with temporary things, you will have a temporary life. If you fill your life with the eternal gifts of God through Jesus, you will have eternal life.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Think back to the story of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. How is the way they treated Moses similar to the way the crowd reacted to Jesus in today’s scripture?
In what way do we “eat and drink” the “flesh and blood” of Jesus today? Why is it important that we do so?
It seems easy to follow Jesus on days that are “blessing heavy”. People tend to quickly forget the blessings, however, and soon begin to grumble and complain. How can we do better at not complaining this week?