The Season after Pentecost: Proper 13, Year B

Jesus is the bread of heaven

  • 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
  • Psalm 51:1-3
  • Ephesians 4:1-16
  • John 6:24-35

Following the feeding of the five thousand (last week’s Gospel – John 6:1-15), we hear a lengthy section in which Jesus explains the true significance of that miracle. The Lectionary follows these teachings over the next four Sundays.

The crowd that follows Jesus still seems to think of him as a potential nationalist leader like Moses, who will lead them in the struggle for liberation. Jesus is very aware that their motives are misdirected and that they have misinterpreted the dramatic sign of God’s power and compassion in the feeding miracle. Jesus skillfully uses their emphasis on the provision of food to make his own point that material bread is a perishable commodity. Even the manna of Moses in the wilderness would not keep beyond a day.

In the Eucharist we are given the bread “which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33

We must work not for food of no enduring value, but for the eternal food that the Son of Man is ready to provide. It is through Jesus that the true and enduring manna of God is being manifested to the world. In celebrating Holy Eucharist week by week we both participate and receive the Body of Christ.

Jesus offers a revolutionary teaching that the works of God consist not in actions but in committing oneself to, and staking one’s life on, the revelation that God has sent in Christ Jesus. With Jesus’ correcting the people’s misunderstandings about “bread from heaven” he declares, “I am the bread of life.” With this declaration also comes a promise: “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

For reflection:

  • How did the crowd misinterpret the deeper significance of the feeding of the 5,000 and therefore the role of Jesus as well? From the words of Jesus in the Gospel reading, what do you understand is the true meaning of the miracles of the loaves and fish?
  • How are you nurtured both physically and spiritually by the presence of God in your life?
  • In the Gospel passage, what were the signs that were sought by those who came to find Jesus? What kind of signs do we seek today, and are they the same or different from those sought be the people in this reading?
  • According to John 6:29, what characterizes the work of God? How do you make this work a reality in your own life? What do we learn in this text about Jesus himself and his ministry?

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Wife, mom, grandmother; author, educator, consultant; trying to make a difference one action at a time. Christian formation has been my vocation for 40+ years - and counting!
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