John 6:35, 41-51

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

Once again the authors of a lectionary have elected to leave out a significant part of the discourse in John six, in part because it's very long and there are ways in which what is established in 36-40 is a motif that is picked up later in this discourse. However, I think that John is very wise in what he was doing, so I have included verses 41-51 and recommend that you also tell the whole of this section. The reason is that the motif of Jesus being the bread from heaven that gives eternal life frames the section that deals with the puzzle of Jesus' identity and his being a human being whose father and mother are known by his fellow Galileans. That frame gives both more emphasis to this theme but it also establishes more intimacy with Jesus as a person.

The basic motif that is established here is the connection between heaven and earth—the real world versus the bread that came down from heaven. The fundamental puzzle in this section is the question asked by the Jews who were saying, "Isn't this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it that he says, 'I've come down from heaven'?" They are raising the foundational mystery in the feeding of the 5000, the walking on the water, and of Jesus' words throughout this section.

One of the new elements that is introduced in this section is that Jesus says no one can come to me unless they are drawn by my Father and also everyone that the Father gives to me will come and anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away. This motif of the sorting of John's audience by those who have been drawn to Jesus is, on the one hand, a factual description: those who are drawn to Jesus and the telling of this story are those who will stick around to hear the whole gospel story and who may come to believe that Jesus is the one whom God has sent.

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