In today’s Gospel from the Mass (John 6:30-35), Jesus, is the Divine Rabbi, teaches about the Eucharist :

[30] So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?  [31] Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”  [32] Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  [33] For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.”  [34] They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”  [35] Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”

There are a number of aspects about Christ’s teachings that are remarkable:

  • Jesus Christ, the Divine Rabbi, has put a very clear plan in place.  Just prior to this, Jesus had led the people into the wilderness, ascended a mountain and then fed the multitude (John 6:1-15).  Jesus is clearly replaying “Exodus”, recalling how Moses led the Jews into the wilderness, asked God to give the Jews “manna” and ascends Mount Sinai.  By doing this, Jesus is tying into to a powerful shared history and tradition that the Jews had been celebrating for 1200 years.  This is a brilliant use of shared experience that resonated powerfully with the Jews.
  • Jesus goes further, now teaching that Moses is not the source of the manna, but God Himself…and Jesus says that God is His Father.  This must have had major “shock” value.
  • After the Jews are hungry for the “bread”, Jesus delivers a shocking “punch line”: Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”

It is a marvel how Jesus sets up this teaching, starting with replaying Moses and the Exodus, feeding the people in the wilderness, correcting the idea that Moses gives bread when it is God, calling God His Father, and finally, saying “I am the bread of life.”

Jesus clearly knows how to get a message across; so shocking is this teaching that many disciples will fall away.