Father, teach us to come to You simply with our needs, trusting You desire to meet them. We want to see Your power in our lives, so teach us to rely on You even for the things we think we can solve on our own. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read John 5-6
John 5:1–30 Back in Jerusalem for a holy day, Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years by simply speaking to him. Though the man didn’t know who Jesus was, he obeyed His command to pick up his mat and walk. On a holy day, even this small thing—carrying a mat—was considered “work” by religious leaders; therefore, they forbade it. So when religious leaders saw the man, they accused both him and Jesus of breaking God’s law. It’s true that Jesus often challenged the religious establishment’s particular understanding of the Scriptures, while at the same time demonstrating His own nearness to God. He did so by performing miracles and claiming to be God’s Son.
Notice, too, that Jesus addressed the healed man’s sickness and then his spiritual habits (5:14). Jesus is kind to sinners—this is good news! But He urges them to turn their lives toward God—and this is even greater kindness.
THE SON OF MAN
Jesus’ favorite title for himself was ‘Son of Man.’ We find this term in the Old Testament in Ezekiel (2:1–3; 3:1–4) and in Daniel (7:13–14). In Jesus’ day, people likely associated the Son of Man with the Messiah, but Jesus used Son of Man language to communicate His divine authority, His suffering, His death and resurrection, and ultimately His glorious second coming. Jesus was both Isaiah’s Suffering Servant-Savior and Daniel’s Son of Man-Messiah.
When He talked to religious leaders, Jesus claimed to be God’s equal. He explained that anyone who received His words would be accepted by God, that His words could raise the dead, and that His work was establishing God’s kingdom.
John 5:31–47 Jesus offered evidence to validate the claims about His identity: the prophecies about the Messiah, the testimony of the prophet John, and His own miracles. All of them authenticated His claim to be God’s Son. Meanwhile, the religious leaders were offended by Jesus because they valued titles and positions. Therefore, they couldn’t tolerate someone who claimed special endorsement from God without the appropriate title.
Notice, however, that Jesus could have dismissed the religious leaders for their unbelief; instead, He points out that the religious systems they trust will condemn them.
John 6:1–40 A large crowd followed Jesus. When He performed a great miracle and fed several thousand people, the crowd’s excitement grew to a fevered pitch; after all, Israel hadn’t experienced these kinds of miracles since the days of Moses. But when Jesus saw they intended to force Him to be their political king, He withdrew so He could spend time in prayer with His Father. The next day, Jesus told them they desired to eat the food He could give them more than they desired to partake of Himself. What they needed, however, was not physical food, sustenance that would last mere hours; what they needed was to believe Jesus’ words and work, because in Jesus God had provided the “Bread of Life,” that is, the full and eternal life that would meet all needs. As the people choked on these words, Jesus told them that only those God chooses can receive Him.
Jesus says that in order to live with God forever believers must eat the “Bread from Heaven.” Here, Jesus is calling Himself God’s final peace offering; He’s offering the Father’s invitation to His family table, an offer no one can afford to reject. (In this text, see also Jesus’ reference to Exodus 16.)
John 6:41–71 People around Jesus recognize His “I AM” statements (6:35, 41, 48, 51) are identifying Himself as God; they are also deeply confused. Jesus explains that God Himself must make these mysteries clear.
John’s point is clear: Jesus is superior even to God’s manifestations to Abraham and Moses because their connection to God was merely physical and temporary. Jesus, on the other hand, brings permanent spiritual life with God. Jesus’ words create new spiritual realities that are deeply connected to the Jews’ heritage while simultaneously superseding it.
25 Truly, truly, I say to 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.
- In John 6:60, the disciples say Jesus’ words about eating the Bread of Life is a “very hard teaching.” Take time to read through this section again and grapple with its implications. Remember that, contextually, eating at someone’s table always involved the host breaking bread and offering it to guests with a blessing; then the host would sit and eat with his guests. Refusing to eat that bread—and thus receive the hospitality, the blessing—would break the relationship with the host.
- How can believers adopt Jesus’ identity and sense of purpose in John 6:38, which is also reflected in John 7:16, 5:19, and 4:34? Believers should be open to God’s Spirit and Word as they seek to align themselves with God’s kingdom and character.
- Evaluate your plans, lifestyle, and sense of purpose; pray about ways the Spirit might make your mindset more like Jesus’. Identify one ritual or habit that would begin to foster that mindset. What will this look like? It could mean changing your morning prayers from asking God to bless your plans to asking God to simply show you His work in the day ahead.