This is Episode #310 and today we’ll read John chapters 5&6 together. New cult ritual or spiritual metaphor? The elephant in the room.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #310 and today we’ll read John chapters 5&6 together. New cult ritual or spiritual metaphor? The elephant in the room.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
John Chapter 5
The Third Sign: Healing the Sick
After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Aramaic, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the disabled — blind, lame, and paralyzed.
One man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”
“Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk.” Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk.
Now that day was the Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath. The law prohibits you from picking up your mat.”
He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
“Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” they asked. But the man who was healed did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began persecuting Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
Honoring the Father and the Son
Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill him: Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing, and he will show him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom he wants. The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
Life and Judgment
“Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
“Truly I tell you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he has granted to the Son to have life in himself. And he has granted him the right to pass judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation.
“I can do nothing on my own. I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
Witnesses to Jesus
“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies about me, and I know that the testimony he gives about me is true. You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. I don’t receive human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. John was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
“But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about me that the Father has sent me. The Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You have not heard his voice at any time, and you haven’t seen his form. You don’t have his word residing in you, because you don’t believe the one he sent. You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me. But you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.
Your Accuser is Moses
“I do not accept glory from people, but I know you — that you have no love for God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and yet you don’t accept me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, since you accept glory from one another but don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But if you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe my words?”
John Chapter 6
The Fourth Sign: Feeding of the Five Thousand
After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). A huge crowd was following him because they saw the signs that he was performing by healing the sick. Jesus went up a mountain and sat down there with his disciples.
Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. So when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so that these people can eat?” He asked this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish — but what are they for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”
There was plenty of grass in that place; so they sat down. The men numbered about five thousand. Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks he distributed them to those who were seated — so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.
When they were full, he told his disciples, “Collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.” So they collected them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This truly is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Therefore, when Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
The Fifth Sign: Walking on Water
When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat,and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. A high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.
The Bread of Life
The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw there had been only one boat. They also saw that Jesus had not boarded the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone off alone. Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.”
“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked.
Jesus replied, “This is the work of God — that you believe in the one he has sent.”
“What sign, then, are you going to do so that we may see and believe you?” they asked. “What are you going to perform? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
True Bread From Heaven
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again. But as I told you, you’ve seen me, and yet you do not believe. Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Therefore the Jews started grumbling about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Eat This Bread and Live Forever
Jesus answered them, “Stop grumbling among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me — not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father.
“Truly I tell you, anyone who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
At that, the Jews argued among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
True Food and True Drink
So Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, because my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate — and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”
He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?”
Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, asked them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some among you who don’t believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe and the one who would betray him.) He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”
From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”
Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray him.
Chapter 5 is pretty much a monologue of Jesus’ observations of the Pharisees. Well, all of the religious leaders, I suppose. I loved the last two verses when Jesus turned their rhetoric around to bite them. It’s like Jesus is saying, “You say you believe Moses. Then again, if you believed Moses, you’d believe me. You obviously don’t believe Moses – even though you say you do and he wrote about Me – so how are you ever gonna believe what I say? No one could shut down the hypocrisy of the Pharisees like Jesus.
You’re probably really seeing how John’s gospel is quite a bit different than the others. The story of the feeding of the 5000 has a lot of new details. John really highlights just how radical Jesus’ message was to His listeners. They even called it blasphemy. And it would have been had He not really been God in the flesh!
But the elephant in the room is Jesus’ metaphor about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. His point was spiritual, not literal. Belief in His sacrificial death and resurrection is as necessary to our eternal life as eating and drinking is to our physical life. We don’t have to be all concerned that we’re being drawn into some weird new cult ritual. This is, after all, Jesus we’re talking about.
Let’s pray. Father, please remind us continually to engage our brains when reading Your word. Your word tells us to love You with our complete selves, including our minds. We know You to be good, and merciful, and kind. We know You love us even better than we love ourselves and each other. Or You. When we come across confusing passages, prompt us to seek counsel, Holy Spirit, from You or from the leaders You have placed in our lives. Help us always to think the best of You and never to turn away as some of Jesus’ followers did in His day. In His name we pray, Amen.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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