Notes from a couple of commentaries– Working Preacher – Brian Peterson and Karoline Lewis
- Lesson is not about bread so much as life. At this point it is the disciples who “grumble”. Is it because they don’t understand – or do and don’t like it. Mark Twain – “Not so much the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that trouble me – it’s the ones I do.”
- Jesus says – this causes offense? What about when he “goes up” via the cross? Will they be able to see the glory of God there?
- “flesh” does not mean the body is bad. Flesh here is the normal way of seeing reality. The “flesh” way cannot see that eternal life comes through the exaltation of Jesus on the cross. Only the “spirit” way can do this – make faith possible. See Martin Luther – 3rd article of the creed. Jesus points to his own words that give life, to the Spirit as the one who gives life, and to the Father as the one who brings people to Jesus. In other words – faith is the work of the Triune God.
- Unbelief is not only “them” – but in us. It asks where we feel reluctant to follow Jesus.
- At the end – Jesus popularity has plummeted. This does not look promising but also shows us how God works – in the midst of apparent failure and rejection. We are always being called and drawn toward life in God.
- Peter “chooses” to stay (although he will deny him later). The paradox is that we, too, are asked to respond at the same time we know that it is God who does the “choosing”. We are to gratefully respond to God’s call.
- At the end of the gospel –Judas is identified as the betrayer. What is betrayal in John’s gospel? According to Lewis, betrays is not believing that the abundant life Jesus offers you is real. Betrayal is anything and everything that makes you think you aren’t someone Jesus could love. The other disciples walk away and Judas is introduced. This is betrayal. Not handing Jesus over but not being able to handle the intimacy of relationships that matter, but most importantly, our relationship with God.
- Can you identify yourself in different characters in this story? Like a part of the crowd who walked away – is it sometimes hard to follow Jesus? What does Peter’s confession sound like – a resignation – like “what else can we do, Lord” or something else?
- Consider the definition of betrayal in the last paragraph. Do you agree?