Richard Burridge: John Chapter 6

John 6:1-13. (cf Mark 6:31-44; Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17). In this account of mass feeding Jesus, echoing Moses, is in control, testing Philip who fails. Six months' wages would not be enough; accepts the offering of barley loaves (1/3 the price of wheat) and dried or pickled fish (fresh in the Synoptics). In the Synoptics Jesus "blesses" (Euloge) the food but in John he "thanks" (Eucharistesas) which casts light on its absence in the expected place (John 13:1-20); and here all the fragments are collected as in Communion.

John 6:14-24. Jesus withdraws into the mountains and then appears "on" (or "by") the lake, the former suggesting Moses again, as does his reply "I am" (Ego eimi) (Exodus 3:14).

John 6:25-34. As with other signs, feeding is followed by a discourse: people must pass from the physical to the spiritual:

John 6:35-40. "Bread of life", the first "I am" phrase". "Man does not live by bread alone "Deuteronomy 8:3), "Come eat of my bread" (Proverbs 9:5), link bread with the word of God, law and wisdom; but Jesus says he is superior to these.

John 6:41-51. Jesus continues his claim by saying he is the "Bread come down from heaven" and the people "grumble", the word for the Israelites which brought manna (Exodus 6:2-15) and this is where opposition begins to crystallise; but no-one will come to him unless "drawn" (Hosea 11:8; Greek Jeremiah 31:3). It's a life or death choice.

John 6:51-58. Having explored "bread" and "come down" it is natural then to discuss "eat"; the Greek word for "flesh" is the Hebrew Basar used for bread in Exodus 16:8) and at the Seder meal (Exodus 12) which alert us to the Eucharist. In "Given for the life of the world" the "for" replicates Luke's () and Paul's (1 Corinthians 11:24) "given for you".

John 6:59-71. Jesus' exegesis is so clear that it frightens away some followers; Peter stands firm.

Taken from:

Burridge, Richard: John: The People's Bible Commentary, The Bible Reading Fellowship, revised 2008, ISBN 978 1 84101 570 5.


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