In John 6, Jesus causes a scandal by claiming to be the bread of life. The word bread itself is problematic today; many people are on gluten-free or low carb diets. This leads to three sticking points around Jesus and bread.
- Is Jesus a fad, like the latest diet, which one can join or dismiss? Many at the time of Jesus saw him dangerous cult leader, a magician who was leading the gullible away. Even today, the critics of Christianity liken Jesus’ popularity with the snake-oil dealers and tele-evangelists that grip popular imagination, for a time, and then are shown to be frauds. Is Jesus optional? Is he a choice one makes, like to go on a diet or to back a certain political candidate?
- By doing the miracle where he provided bread to feed a multitude, Jesus was inviting comparisons between himself and Moses. The religious leaders and the establishment, loved Moses. They were also, extremely territorial. Since Moses was long gone, they could interpret him in ways that supported their position of power. Moses, not like Jesus, would never act with compassion and show them to be frauds.
- Jesus scandalized them by saying ‘eat my flesh, like bread, and you shall live forever.’ This sounded like an invitation to cannibalism. The promise of eternal life, was even more difficult. Today, many downplay this pivotal component of Jesus’ message. Many preachers only mention it at Easter and funerals, if then.
A three point message could be arranged as follows:
- Jesus is meant, like bread or some other gluten-free modern example, to be a daily and essential component of our lives.
- By both his teachings and actions, Jesus leads us to live lives of compassion.
- Eternal life is assured. Live with heaven in mind and Jesus internalized.