The people came looking for Jesus. They weren’t about to let him get away. As far as they were concerned, he was their only hope to save them from Rome. Little did they seem to realize that he was there to save them from a completely different power: the power of sin and death. It’s time for him to make that more obvious.
“You’re always thinking about earthly things and stuff that doesn’t last,” Jesus said. “As long as you get your belly full, you’re happy. But I’ve been showing you signs of much deeper and important things. Didn’t you notice? Whatever is about this earth stays here, but what is about spiritual things and your eternity lives on. Can we talk about that?”
“Sure,” they said. “What do we have to do to please God?” They’ve already missed the point that the gift of Jesus is life, not doing good things. And so he tells them: “It’s all about finding God in me, Jesus. I am how you find God. A relationship with me is how you please God.”
“Alright,” they reply. “Prove it to us. Do something, like, magical. God provided manna when our ancestors were in the wilderness. Do something cool and convincing like that.”
Oh my. Jesus lets out a big sigh. He knows that if he does that for them, it won’t convince them. They’ll want something more the next day, and then something more the next, and when he stops “entertaining” them, they’ll write him off.
“Forget the tricks,” Jesus urges, “and let’s talk about the truth. Your ancestors got a gift of bread from God to keep them alive. I am the gift of Bread from God to give you true life—eternal life.”
“Oh, cool,” they said. “Give us this bread. It will save us from having to go to the open market.”
Woo boy. These people don’t get it, as many don’t. Jesus tries again. “I am the Bread. Me. I am Bread. Life is in me. I’m the one who gives Life. Come to me, and you will be forever filled. Love me, and you will never be thirsty for more.” How many times has he told them, and how many things has he shown them, but they’re still blind as bats. He continues, “But if you’re hearing me, and you get it, I will never turn you away. I’m here to find you. Eternal life is what hangs in the balance, and I’m the one who can give it.”
Well, the people are confused, just as they were when Moses spoke to them. They didn’t get the whole metaphor thing about Jesus being the bread who came down from heaven. They were thinking, “Wait a minute. We know Jesus’ dad and mom. What’s he talking about?”
Jesus stopped the confusing chatter. “God the Father is showing you the truth right now. So come to me, and I will teach you, and you will understand. Follow me. Commit yourself. You can’t really see God until you really see me. What I’m telling you about it Life that doesn’t end. It’s ME. I’m the one who is the Gift from God, and the Bread of all Life. Your ancestors ate the miraculous bread from Moses, but they still died. But if you unite with me, death will be a mere transition to even more life. So eat me—understand the metaphor? I am the life you really need. Let’s put aside the desire for tricks and choose the truth.”
The people started argue about who got to take the first bite. Seriously? “They wondered what he meant.” (OK so they weren’t really going to chomp down, but they surely didn’t get it.)
Jesus didn’t let up. “OK, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you lose.” He was talking about them having a deep, dependent relationship with him where he would will them with life. They’re still thinking “lunch.” Jesus is talking sacrifice; they’re thinking “sandwich.” He’s talking about his death, and they’re thinking about dinner.
“It’s a metaphor,” Jesus continues. “ ‘Bread’ is spiritual food, and ‘blood’ is the sign of the covenant. So by eating my flesh and drinking my blood, that means we become one. God and I are one, and if you come to me and ‘feed’ on me, we can be one also, and you will have true life.”