[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — John 1:1-2].
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
41 Ἐγόγγυζον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι περὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι εἶπεν· Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος ὁ καταβὰς ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, 42 καὶ ἔλεγον· Οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωσήφ, οὗ ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα; πῶς νῦν λέγει ὅτι Ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβέβηκα; 43 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Μὴ γογγύζετε μετ’ ἀλλήλων. 44 οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐλθεῖν πρός με ἐὰν μὴ ὁ πατὴρ ὁ πέμψας με ἑλκύσῃ αὐτόν, κἀγὼ ἀναστήσω αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. 45 ἔστιν γεγραμμένον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις· Καὶ ἔσονται πάντες διδακτοὶ θεοῦ· πᾶς ὁ ἀκούσας παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μαθὼν ἔρχεται πρὸς ἐμέ. 46 οὐχ ὅτι τὸν πατέρα ἑώρακέν τις εἰ μὴ ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, οὗτος ἑώρακεν τὸν πατέρα. 47 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ πιστεύων ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 48 ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς· 49 οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν ἔφαγον ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τὸ μάννα καὶ ἀπέθανον· 50 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβαίνων ἵνα τις ἐξ αὐτοῦ φάγῃ καὶ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ·
HEY! I Am Ordained!
Was Jesus anti-Jewish and anti-Moses? Some passages like this one could give that impression. For example, “the Jews” were complaining in verse 41 and elsewhere in this Gospel “the Jews” oppose Jesus. But then, they were all Jews! John’s reference to “the Jews” must refer to those Jewish leaders who resisted Jesus. Some Christians over the centuries have done great harm by thinking John meant these things in racial terms which is just plain ridiculous and doesn’t make sense.
But what about appearing “anti-Moses”? Jesus’ radical interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures seems to be really irking these leaders. He argues (see our exegesis of John 6:25f) that Moses did not give them the miracle manna bread from heaven but God did. Furthermore, God is now sending from heaven a new Bread of Life that, when eaten, one never dies. This Bread comes down from heaven as manna did, but is Jesus himself (and his teaching).
Connecting even further to the Moses narrative in Exodus, we see again this fun verb Ἐγόγγυζον that leads off verse 41 showing emphasis. This verb is the same one used in the LXX (Septuagint Greek OT translation used at Jesus’ time) describing the murmuring of the Hebrews in the wilderness. They murmured against what God was doing. Throughout this section, Jesus draws upon language from Exodus to indicate God is doing a new Exodus with another kind of Bread of Heaven. Perhaps not so much an anti-Moses thing, but a Moses-was-cool-but-Something-and-Someone-Greater-Is-Now Happening thing.
So, now the religious leaders are getting really fed up with him because he is clearly a heretic for saying such crazy things, re-interpreting the Scriptures as if he had the authority to do that, and claiming he was a greater Bread of heaven no matter who dropped it from Above!
You want to know what really gets us religious leaders hot under the collar (pun intended)? Challenging our authority and making fun of our robes! We are, for heaven’s sake, ordained — a big party was thrown in honor of us afterward. We are degreed — so don’t argue with us. And we are commissioned by the Elders — with a 403B and health benefits.
So there! Stay in your place!