Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Commentary on the Gospel of John According to the Aramaic Peshitta: Chapter 6

After these things, Yeshua went to the other side of the Sea of Galeela of Tiberius. And after him went a large crowd because they had seen the miracles which he did with the sick. And Yeshua went up a mountain, and there he was sitting with his disciples. And the feast of the Paskha of the Yehudeans was approaching. – John 6:1-4
          
    Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, most of John’s Gospel takes place in Judea. Several important cities in the Gospels are surrounding the sea of Galilee. Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Magdala are the main ones. Cana and Nazareth weren’t too far from the sea of Galilee either.

     Again, we see that Jesus did not have a small following, because a lot of people believed in him because of the miracles. John tells us in 2:23-25 that many of these people were not truly devoted. These people had not taken up the cross. They also didn’t understand what Jesus’s mission was during His first coming.
This is the second Passover that is mentioned in John’s Gospel. In contrast to the Synoptic Gospels, most of John takes place during the second and third years of Jesus’s ministry. The Synoptic Gospels alone would make it difficult to tell how long Jesus’s ministry lasted on earth, as they only mention one Passover, which is the last one.

And Yeshua raised his eyes and saw the large crowd that came to him and he said to to Peleepos, "Where can we buy bread that these [people] may eat?" And this he said, testing him, for he did know what he was about to do. And Peleepos said to him, "Two hundred denarii [of] bread would not suffice them [even] though each of them may take a small amount." One of the disciples, Andraus, the brother of Shimon Keepa, said to him, "There is here a certain boy who has upon him five loaves of barley and two fish, but what are these [items] for all those [people]?" Yeshua said to them, "Make all the people to recline." Now [there] was much grass in that place, and reclined the men in the number of five thousand. And Yeshua took the bread and blessed it, and divided it to those who reclined, and likewise also of he fish as much as they desired.– John 6:5-11
           
     Jesus wanted His disciples to have faith in Him, and He frequently referred to them as people having little faith (Matthew 8:26). Even after seeing Jesus’s many miracles, Philip and the other disciples just didn’t understand that Jesus could provide their every need. We really need to get a hold of that!
         
    This is the fourth sign that John records, telling us that Jesus the Messiah is the Bread of Life (Jesus explains it Himself later in this chapter). 200 dinarii is actually around $4,000, showing how big this crowd was. John didn’t say that this was 5,000 people, but 5,000 men (not including women and children). There could have been over 10,000 people there that were fed by this miracle.

And when they were satisfied he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments that are left over, lest something should be lost." And they gathered [them] and they counted twelve baskets [of] fragments which were left over from those who ate of the five loaves of barley-bread. – John 6:12-13
                Jesus most likely told them to gather up the fragments in order to feed the poor. The fact that not all of the five barley cakes were gone is quite amazing. It seems like as the disciples would pull out a cake that another one would replace it. 5,000 men (maybe as much as 10,000 people including women and children also) ate of that bread and the fish and there were still leftovers. This is really symbolizes Jesus Himself, as there is plenty of Jesus to go around for those that desire Him.

And they who saw the miracle that Yeshua did were saying, "Truly this is a prophet who has come into the world!" But Yeshua knew that they were about to come [and] seize him and make him king, and he slipped away to a mountain by himself. – John 6:14-15
         
     This is why I said that most of the people that followed Jesus, including the twelve, didn’t understand why Jesus had come. Jesus did not come to reign in a worldly kingdom, because His Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus reigns in the Kingdom of Heaven, which is higher than any earthly political power. Next time, Jesus will come to reign as King on Earth (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 20:6). Jesus came the first time to die for our sins (Mark 10:45) as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

And when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea. And they sat in a boat and were going to the other side, to Capurnakhum. And it became dark and Yeshua had not come to them. Now the sea was lifted up against them because a great wind was blowing. And they journeyed about twenty and five furlongs or thirty, and they saw Yeshua while he was walking on the sea. And when he drew near to their boat, they were afraid but he said, "It is I! Do not be afraid." And they were desiring to receive him into the boat, and at that hour that boat was at that land to which they were going. – John 6:16-21
         
    This is the fifth sign, showing Jesus’s dominion over nature as the Son of man. George Lamsa states that the Aramaic word al (L9) can mean “on” or “by”. When translating from Aramaic, you have to take into account that many words can mean many different things. One has to translate such words based on the context, and the context of this verse tells us that “on” is the correct translation, as they were clearly shocked. Why else would Jesus have told them not to be afraid?

And on the following day that crowd which was standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was not [any] other boat except that which into it had gone up the disciples and that Yeshua had not entered with them, his disciples, into the boat. But other ships had come from Tiberius near that place in which they ate bread while Yeshua blessed [it], and when that crowd saw that Yeshua was not there, nor his disciples, they went up into these ships and they came to Capurnakhum and were seeking Yeshua. And when they found him at the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Our Master, when did you come here?" Yeshua answered and said to them, "Truly, truly say I to you: that you seek me, not because you saw the miracles, rather that you ate bread and were satisfied. Do not labor [for] food which perishes, rather [for] food that endures to life that is everlasting: that which the Son of Man will give to you, for this man the Father God has sealed. – John 6:22-27
         
    These were the same people that had eaten the bread obviously. They were also missing the significance of the miracle that Jesus had done. The bread that Jesus had given them by the Sea of Galilee was nothing compared to the Bread of Life that He was about to give them.

They said to him, "What should we do to work the deeds of God?" Yeshua answered and said to them, "This is the work of God: that you should believe in him whom he sent." – John 6:28-29
          
   This is another statement made in John’s Gospel that points to salvation by faith and not by works. “This is the work of God…” means “This is what God requires of you…”, but we have to have a living faith. These people believed, but they were not rooted in Him at all. Jesus’s half-brother explains in his Epistle (James 2:14-26) what true, living faith in Jesus Christ is.

They said to him, "What miracle do you perform that we may see and believe in you? What have you shown? Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, as it is written that 'Bread from heaven he gave them to eat.'" Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, say I to you: that [it was] not [that] Moshe gave to you bread from heaven, but my Father gives to true bread from heaven. For His bread, that of God, is he who has come down from heaven and gives life to the world."  – John 6:30-33
        
     Some people were not convinced merely by the miracle of the 5,000 being fed, they wanted more. “Moses gave people manna but that didn’t mean that he was the Messiah!” is basically what they were saying. They wanted more evidence. Jesus told them that the real Bread was He Himself.

They said to him, "Our Lord, at all times give to us this bread!" Yeshua said to them, "I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will not hunger, and whoever believes in me will not thirst ever. But I have said to you that you have seen me and you do not believe. All who my Father has given to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will not cast outside. For I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of Him who sent me. This is His will, that of Him who sent me: that I do not lose [one] from all that that he has given to me, but raise him up in the last day. For this is the will of my Father: that all who see the Son and believe in Him will have life that is eternal, and I will raise him up in the last day." – John 6:34-40
         
    Jesus Christ reveals who and what this Bread is, and they clearly weren’t expecting Him to say that. The people just didn’t get it. The Bread of Life is not just one of quantity, but quality. That Bread is so good that nothing else will satisfy and you will simply not want anything else.
         
    Some of these people did believe, but they walked away because of the words Jesus spoke during this chapter. They were not planted into Jesus’s hands by the Father. They were not grounded in the faith. Jesus won’t reject you if you come to Him, He desires to mend you and make you perfect in His sight. We should follow Christ’s example in this and In His absolute focus and desire to do God’s perfect will. Jesus never failed to do God’s will, therefore the Father was pleased with Him.

Now the Yehudeans were murmuring against him because he said that, 'I am the Bread that has descended from Heaven.' And they were saying, "Is this not Yeshua, the son of Yosip, he who we know his father and his mother, and how says this [man] that 'From Heaven I have descended?'" Yeshua answered and said to them, "Do not murmur one with another. No man is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets that, 'All of them will be taught of God.' Everyone who hears therefore from the Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that man can see the Father, rather He who is from God is He [who] sees the Father." – John 6:41-46
       
      These people understood what Jesus was saying and didn’t like it. Jesus claiming that He descended from heaven is a claim of deity, but they thought that He was the son of Joseph and not the Son of God. This is very similar to what was said about Jesus in His hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-29).
      
       Jesus is quoting Isaiah 54:13 when He says that all people will be taught by God. Jesus is the Teacher that speaks the Words of eternal life, as He is the Word of God. If you want to hear from God, you come to Jesus. Jesus knows the Father better than anyone, so we can rely on Him to teach us the truth.

"Truly, truly, say I to you: that whoever believes in me has life that is eternal. I am the Living Bread who from Heaven has descended, and if a man should eat from this bread he will live forever, and the bread, that which I give, is my body, which for the sake of the life of the world I give." – John 6:47-51
        
     Jesus tells us why the manna given by Moses was not the true bread of God, because if they ate the Bread of Life they would not die. They didn’t just die physically like we all will, but they did spiritually because of their unbelief. This Bread is necessary for us to partake in. This is another example of Christ’s superiority over Moses.

And the Yehudeans were arguing one with another and saying, "How is this [man] able to give to us his body to eat?" And Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly say I to you: that unless you eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. And he who eats from my body and drinks from my blood has life that is everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my body truly is food, and my blood truly is drink. He who eats my body and drinks my blood in me abides and I in him. As the Living Father sent me, and live because of the Father, and whoever also eats of me will live because of me. This is the Bread that has descended from Heaven, not as ate your forefathers manna and died. He who eats this Bread will live forever." These things he said in the assembly while he taught in Capurnakhum. – John 6:52-59
       
      Again, the people misunderstood what Jesus was saying. George Lamsa suggests that eating the flesh and blood means “to work very hard”, but this is unlikely. If this were a Semitic idiom for that, then the Jews would have most likely understood it. Jesus is telling us that we must partake of everything that He is, that He stands for, and put Him at the center of our lives. Jesus’s Word and His Spirit are our daily nourishment.

And many who heard [it] of his disciples said, "This saying is hard. Who is able to hear it?" But Yeshua knew in himself that were murmuring his disciples about this, and he said to them, "This offends you? [What] if you see therefore the Son of Man ascending to the place that he was before? It is the spirit that makes alive, the body does not profit anything. The words that I speak with you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe." For Yeshua had known from the start who those are that did not believe, and he who was who would betray him. And he said to them, "Because of this I have said to you that no man is able to come to me unless it is given to him from my Father." – John 6:60-65
       
      If these people were truly grounded in Christ’s teachings, then they would not have walked away from Him. They completely missed what He was telling them in this chapter due to their own lack of faith. Jesus is clearly very frustrated in this passage. Jesus also gives more evidence for His deity by making this statement about Him ascending to where He was from the beginning.
       
      Jesus’s words are not the words of any mere man, they are the very words of God. As Jesus says, the body (or the flesh) don’t mean anything. The Spirit is what matters and what gives life. If they had the grace given them by the Father, then the people would have obtained eternal life that day. No one can come to Jesus for salvation without being led by the Spirit in faith and grace.

Because of this saying many of his disciples turned their backs and did not walk with him. And Yeshua said to his twelve, "Why? Do you also desire to go?" Shimon Keepa answered and said, "My Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of life that is eternal. And we believe, and know, that you are the Messiah: the Son of the Living God!" And Yeshua said to them, "Did I not choose you twelve and of you one is a Satan?" He was speaking now concerning Yehuda, son of Shimon Skaryota, for he was about to betray him, [being] one from the twelve. – John 6:66-71

      Notice how Jesus began this chapter with a large following and by the end of it He only has twelve people left. These twelve wouldn’t leave Jesus because they knew that there was no one else who had what He had: the very words of the living God. They also knew that He was the Son of God. Jesus then tells us that even one of the twelve would eventually go astray: Judas Iscariot, the traitor. In the original Aramaic, Jesus is actually saying that Judas is “a Satan” or satana (0n=s). Lamsa states, “The Aramaic satana (Satan) is derived from sta, which means to slide, to slip, or to miss the mark, and applies to one who causes these results.” Paul Younan defines satana as “Adversary”. Jesus is not saying that Judas is actually Satan himself, but that he is (as Andrew Gabriel Roth puts it) a “little devil”, or an enemy to Christ.