August 25, 2012

21st Sunday - B

John 6: 60-69

How One Can Come to Know and Believe in Jesus

In the Gospel of John, Jesus often invites the disciples to come and see.  And at various times, people would stay with Jesus for a time. 

This is the case of Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist who meet Jesus in Chapter 1.  After Jesus invites them, “they stay with him that day” (1:39).  This is also what [Jesus’] “mother, his brothers, and his disciples” did after the wedding at Cana.  With Jesus, they “went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.” (2:12)

The time they have spent with Jesus is fundamental for them to know him and to believe in his words.  Thus, Peter is able to say, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

One can only come to know and believe in Jesus if one spends time with him.  This is one of the main emphases of John’s Gospel.

At this point, it is worth noting that up to now, the audience who Jesus has been speaking to in this Chapter 6 has been identified as “the crowd” and “the Jews.”  Yet, there is a switch here in verse 60, John changes the audience from “the Jews” to “many of his disciples” [1].   A disciple is one who follows a teacher/rabbi.

In this case, John seems to suggest the condition one needs to be not just a follower but a believer. 

The disciples who leave Jesus are those who do not know him.  They may have seen his miraculous signs and heard his great teachings, but that is not enough to have faith.  In fact in this one Chapter 6 of John, they have seen Jesus multiplying the five loaves and two fish to feed the crowd (verses 1-15).  They also witness him walking on the water (verses 16-21) [2].  Yet, they find his teaching “hard,” and question, “Who can accept this?”

They do not know who Jesus truly is.  They may have followed him out of curiosity.  And so, they can accept and enjoy his signs and wonders.  But when what he has to say does not fit their agenda, “many of his disciples” leave Jesus and “return to their former way of life.”

[1]  Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B.  Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993; p. 176.  
[2]  Ibid.

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