Scratchpad: The Enigmatic Jesus of John 6

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A question this week was in regards to the enigmatic Jesus. You know, something along the lines of Why is the Jesus of John so difficult to grasp, then and now.

Some thoughts:

Jesus doesn’t care if you are rich, is the thought which keeps popping into my head as I read John 6 and listen to commentators teach that Jesus will provide. I think they miss the point, and the more so when they use this passage to explain their position. Of course, they stop at verse 14, ignoring the fact that in John, one has to read the Evangelist’s commentary to fully appreciate the sign which had just happened.

In verse 14, the exuberant cry of “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” is made. Surely, he was the prophet like Moses, but Jesus was something more, and by stopping at this verse without the first Commentator’s remarks is to leave Jesus only as a prophet and nothing more. Verse 15 is equally important as the people were about to make Jesus be a king. Yet, we know that later he is crowned a King, again by force.

The people wanted to be fed and want to be led. That was not necessarily the physical mission of John’s Jesus.

Jesus rebukes us today, especially those who seek after so-called miracles as tests of one preacher’s righteousness or anothers, or those who seek prosperity or even those who seek God to put food on their table. He rebukes his disciples for looking for earthly food and earthly means, telling them that he has something more for them, hidden though, ready for them to find it. The juxtaposition is that what is earthly is only a shadow which perishes in the light of the Sun. What is then revealed is that Christ is the real bread which feeds the crowd and what he seeks is for us to believe upon him.

This entire chapter is framed by this discussion. First, Christ feeds the crowd and then rebukes the disciples for believing that this is the real thing. The only thing real is the teaching of Jesus. This is then rebuked by the Jewish synagogue of our author. I mean, imagine telling your religious leaders that what they are teaching is perishing, but what you have inside of you is eternal life. It is difficult to grasp today because people tend to stop after the sign (no miracle) and use that to teach that God will take what little we have and make it abundant. Yet, Christ himself condemns this thought, teaching us that instead, we have to look up to the one who came down.

All of this is concluded with liturgy by John regarding the Christian meal, which many still do not understand. Here again, Jesus is as mysterious as the sharing of his blood and flesh.

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