John 6:24-35 - Calling Jesus "My Rabbi"

Updated: 6 days ago

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The next day, when the people who remained after the feeding of the five thousand saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves 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 come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”


Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”


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This is the Gospel reading to be read aloud by a priest on the tenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 13], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This will be preceded by one of the two pairs of Old Testament and Psalms optional for this Sunday. Track 1 places focus on Nathan telling David that Yahweh will hold him responsible for his sins, with Psalm 51 a song of lament, singing: “Wash me through and through from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin.” Track 2 places focus on the complaints of hunger by the Israelites to Moses and Aaron, leading Yahweh to begin the feeding program that would be manna from heaven. Psalm 78 sings out, “He let it fall in the midst of their camp and round about their dwellings.” The Epistle reading from Ephesians will be read before this Gospel selection, where Paul wrote, “He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.”


I wrote about this reading and published a commentary on my website in 2018. That article can be read by clicking this link. I welcome all to read those views, as the same still applies today. Because I explained the bulk of what this reading selection says, I will now only offer a few observations from different angles.


One thing that became a sudden insight to me just the other day, something I had never thought of before is relative to the feeding of the five thousand. While this reading deals with the day after that feeding, my thought has bearing on this following of people to find Jesus in Capernaum. In my past thoughts on this miracle, I saw Jesus instructing his twelve apostles not only to have the five thousand recline in the grass but also having the twelve separate the five thousand into twelve sections, which would make for about four hundred sixteen each. Each apostle was then given a portion of the five loaves and two fish to distribute to the section assigned to him. Before, I saw the miracle being each of the twelve being possessed with the Spirit of Jesus, so each filled their section with the same Spirit, as spiritual food more than physical food.


Recently, I have seen the abundance of twelve baskets of leftover bread as having a logical explanation, no longer requiring that miracle needing one to believe something magical occurred, beyond the realm of nature, where atheists refuse to believe it is possible for bread to spontaneously be created, turning five loaves in one basket into twelve baskets full of bread pieces. The logic says the five thousand brought their own physical food with them, as they were traveling pilgrims that were prepared to feed themselves. As the apostles preached to the twelve sections of people, the people shared in common what they had, so everyone was filled with physical food, with much left over. In that process, the five thousand were more importantly filled with the spiritual food that was the real reason they came to find Jesus. While fed spiritually by apostles ‘in the name of Jesus,’ they knew Jesus would be the soul who would be “seized” in their soul’s marriage to Yahweh, knowing divinely that Jesus would become the “king” of their bodies of flesh – each an individual realm for his reign.


The thought that now comes strongly upon me is this: The model of the twelve sections of four hundred sixteen people then became the prototype of twelve modern churches, with each apostle acting as the priest or pastor leading a flock of that many sheep. The small portions of the five loaves and two fish is now seen by my imagination as the first offerings of symbolic physical food, which in Episcopal churches [all the universal catholic branches] that constitutes a wafer or cracker. The twelve baskets of leftover bread pieces is then akin to the offerings collected by the apostles; but these first examples of Christian churches do not set the precedence of begging the people for money and they do not pass out free wine. This modern concept of Christian churches, which set expectations that the people should show up expecting a free wafer, with the addition of a sip of wine, all paid for by the congregation’s hefty donations, is the reason John’s chapter six takes an ugly bend with these verses today [and the ones that follow – about “eating my flesh and drinking my blood”]. The roots of a failed “Church” are shown in this reading and the others to follow.


In my 2018 observations on this chapter of John’s, I saw the aspect of Judas Iscariot being one of the twelve as why not all of the five thousand would be spiritually satisfied and no longer seek after Jesus in the flesh, content to await his coming spiritually. Those who listened to a sermon on the Torah and the Prophets [a portion of the five loaves and two fish] were just as dissatisfied as were the normal Jews who attended a synagogue, always being fed meaningless banter. While everyone in that sectional flock shared the food they had, the offering of spiritual food by Judas was quickly turned to nothing. Those would be the ones who followed Jesus, to whom Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”


When one realizes the vast majority of the five thousand did indeed receive the miracle of the Spirit, as distributed to them by the apostles ‘in the name of Jesus,’ the vast majority of them would have left spiritually satiated, themselves [a “self” equals a “soul”] finally fulfilled through attendance in a synagogue [‘open air’ as it was]. They would have left the grassy flood plain of the sea, most likely gone to spread their newfound joy with others [the reality of Christianity]. Those who would have been fed the standard lack of spirituality all the rabbis of Galilee had, would have hung around, not realizing others had their souls touched by Yahweh, through His pastors of His flock. Those fed nothing of value by Judas, proclaiming to be taught by the Master Jesus, were found wanting more, after the food from yesterday became the waste of tomorrow.


Between the Gospel reading from John on the ninth Sunday after Pentecost and today’s tenth Sunday offering are two missing verses. John 6:22-23 are left out, seemingly as not fitting the storyline of either. Therefore, the Episcopal Church has omitted them as superfluous and unnecessary.


I see them as now being necessary to be read. Those two verses say [NRSV]:


“The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had

been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his

disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias

came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.”

(John 6:22-23)


First of all, this says not everyone had stayed the night where they had been fed the evening before. When the translation says, “the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea,” that indicates only a portion, while still numerous enough to be “a crowd” [“ochlos”]. When the translation then says, “They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone,” this explains why they hung around. Whereas the vast majority had been touched by the Spirit of Jesus, passed on from one truly ‘in his name,’ the ones who had Judas preach to them were without that touch; so they waited to see the one that came to see … not some impostor.


In verse twenty-three, the NRSV has translated, “after the Lord had given thanks.” This is actually a separate segment of words in the Greek text [the last of three segments in verse twenty-three], where a comma mark introduces: “eucharistēsantos tou Kryiou,” which literally translates to say, “having been thankful for God’s good grace of this of Lord.” That sounds like a prayer was said; and, the Jews prayer after a meal, rather than before. The genitive case of “tou” and “Kryiou” says the reason for “having given thanks” [in prayer] means “of this” – the feeding of “bread” – was food provided for by God – “of the Lord.” The capitalization of “Kyriou” must be seen as a reference to Yahweh, as to whom “thanks were given,” more than John referring to Jesus. Still, to the ones waiting to see Jesus, the feeding of the “bread” occurred in his ‘open air’ synagogue; so, they also “gave thanks” to Jesus as an instrument of Yahweh – the “Lord.”


What needs to be seen from the word “eucharistēsantos” is the root Greek word is “eucharisteó,” from which comes the Christian term “eucharist” [“eucharistia”]. Everything about that word means “giving thanks” or “thanksgiving,” and this is especially read by Christians as being related to the Passover Seder meal, at which time Jesus said the ritual Jewish prayer before the breaking of the bread [which is never eaten], called the HaMotzi – meaning “blessing over the bread.” Therefore, a standard Jewish prayer of thanksgiving had been said, which gave thanks to Yahweh for physical bread consumed, with that having happened the evening before boats arrived at the pier near where a crowd of people remained gathered.


When this use of “eucharistēsantos” is seen as a commonly recited Jewish prayer over having eaten bread [or anything of substance], then the truth of verses twenty-four and twenty-five say these Jews were “seeking this Jesus” [“zētountes ton Iēsoun”], saying to him when they found him, “Rabbi , when here have you come ?” [From “Rhabbi , pote hōde gegonas ?”] This identification of Jesus as “My teacher,” the meaning of “Rabbi,” has to be seen as an important statement [capitalized words are always divinely elevated in meaning] that told Jesus, “Here come the bunch that listened to Judas.” Because Judas had left them wanting [like all other rabbis they had ever listened preach], they wanted Jesus, meaning understanding the capitalization of “Rhabbi” important to grasp.


According to HELPS Word-studies, “Rabbi” literally means, 'My great one; my honorable sir,” such that “my” acts as a statement of possession. Whereas the ordinary usage implies a personal preference to one teacher, as “the teacher of me,” the capitalization raises this meaning to become a statement that says those who sought Jesus and found him felt in their souls that Jesus owed them something. For having shared their bread with others, expecting to get something uplifting in return from coming to Jesus’ ‘open air’ synagogue, they had left their ‘bread’ in the ‘offering’ basket, only getting a nibble of holy bread [a wafer] and a hint of fish. Because they saw Judas as the hired hand of Jesus, they felt that they had bought the right to call Jesus “My Rabbi.”


This needs to be seen as where the current state of Christianity is today. It goes to church [or watches church on some media], makes a financial offering [or mails in pledges and tithes], listens to a hired hand pretend to be Jesus reborn, and then eats a wafer and sips some wine, prays some canned prayers and goes home spiritually empty. The reason Christians go to church is to feel like Jesus is theirs, bought and paid for; but the result is always disappointing. This should be seen as why people searched for Jesus in Capernaum. Unlike the vast majority who had been fed spiritual food by true apostles, those who get the shaft from pretenders keep seeking some value in return for their money and support.


Simply by understanding the divine elevation of “Rhabbi” as a powerful statement of the failure of a religion to serve the needs of the flock [as the Jewish temple-synagogue system had, just as like the Christian church-denomination system does now], it is easy to see that was what Jesus responded to, rather than the question, “when did you come here?”


It is because Jesus was called “My Rabbi” he said, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” In that, the segment of words that says, “not because you saw signs” can be Jesus knowing what they did not see. He told them “because you saw signs,” means “sēmeia” means both “miracles” and “tokens.” Whereas the vast majority went away talking about the miracles they witnessed, all this group fed by Judas saw was some token objects: tiny shreds of bread and some crumbled fish. Whereas the vast majority praised they finally understood the meaning of some Scripture, all the group that listened to Judas heard was the ‘same ole same ole nothings’ they always hear preached. Thus, Jesus knew by them calling him [who none had ever heard preach before] “My Rabbi,” it was because they had “not seen miracles.”


By Jesus then saying, “because you ate your fill of the loaves,” he was saying he knew they all shared commonly what bread they had brought with others, so all were filled physically with food. That was a cost to them, which they willingly paid; but for that price of admission they expected to see the show, the same one the vast majority saw. Judas had shown them nothing they had not seen many, many times before. That failure to live up to the price of feeding neighbors their own bread meant Jesus owed them. He could then be called “My Rabbi.”


With that, I will leave it up to the reader to ponder how the ensuing conversation between Jesus and the crowd unfolds. Again, this chapter of John is heading towards an ugly end, where the Jews will think Jesus is promoting cannibalism. This means, unlike the vast majority who had left spiritually satisfied who left and did not follow Jesus angrily, the ones who sought Jesus because they felt he owed them something is an attitude of birthright. They were Jews in pilgrimage, which says they followed the rules of Mosaic Law [as best they knew how to] and they expected to go to heaven, because they were the select group known to be God’s chosen people. Therefore, the conversation between Jesus and those who feel they deserve rabbis like Jesus to bless them and tell them they are going to heaven needs to be seen from a Christian perspective, where Christians assume much the same.


Again, I offered insight into the whole reading in my prior posting. Feel free to read that as the rest of this reading is pondered. Pay close attention to the “works of God” and think about those who say “belief” is all that is needed, with “works” left for others. Think how so many Christians poopoo James’ statement that “belief without works is dead,” because so many misunderstand “pistis” by thinking “belief” is the same as “faith.” Belief without works is dead faith. Calling oneself a Jew or a Christian is having a “belief.” However, calling oneself either without doing the “works of God” means a soul bound to reincarnate after the flesh is dead.


As the Gospel reading chosen to be read on the tenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for Yahweh should be well underway, the tendency is to see the crowd as doing a good thing. They all just wanted to follow Jesus, in the same way the vast majority of people calling themselves Christians today want to say they are always looking for Jesus. The lesson is to see oneself as one of those who did not sail away on the filled with the Holy Spirit boat, as not being one of those whose souls were engaged to Yahweh, knowing by doing good works their souls would be joined with the soul of Jesus – their king and lord. Todays lesson is seeing how often one calls Jesus “My Rabbi,” as if Jesus was some fictional character in a book, who is never one with one’s soul. The lesson is to realize one is not seeing any miracles surrounding one’s life.


A ministry for Yahweh begins by being able to know that name. A ministry must realize through one’s soul marrying Yahweh that the name “Jesus” means “Yahweh Saves,” so to be “in the name of God” one is “Jesus” reborn. One cannot stand like a Judas Iscariot, making up things one heard in Sunday School when six years old and then acting like a preacher, crying crocodile tears for emotional theatrics. One must be Jesus resurrected in one’s flesh, so the miracles of spiritual feeding never ceases. Wherever one goes as Jesus reborn, the miracles keep on satisfying the crowds. Anything less always leaves them wanting more and looking for where the truth can be found.