Book Review Part 9 of Dan Lioy’s, “Jesus as Torah in John 1-12”

Posted: September 5, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

 

This 9th review will cover Dr. Lioy’s treatment of John 6 in his monologue. He subtitles this section, “Jesus as Torah Offers the Bread of Life”.
 
Lioy notes that Jesus shifts his ministry from Jerusalem to Galilee, which immediately leads to the miracle of feeding a great multitude. Such a sign would hearken, or should have hearkened the participants back in memory to the Passover from Egypt and God’s provision in the wilderness.
 
Interestingly, Lioy (2007:121) notes that bread had become a metaphor for Torah, “In the first century AD, it was ‘quite common among the Jewish literate circles’ to regard ‘bread as a metaphor for the Torah’ (cf. Sir 15:1-3; 24:20-23; Wis 16:26; Gen Rab. 70:5)”.
 
This may be no small coincidence (Bread symbolizing Torah), for Lioy mentions this as the only miracle, apart from the Resurrection, that is recorded in all four Gospels. The clear inference according to Lioy (2007:121): “It shows the Redeemer to be the Bread of Life”.
 
Preceding the actual miracle, Jesus climbed up a mountainside, “…a detail that recalls Moses’ ascent of Mount Sinai” (Lioy 2007:122). Large crowds flocked to him, thus setting the stage for the miracle. Having queried his disciples about food and the lack thereof, “…the Torah of God took charge by instructing His disciples to get everyone to settle on the expanse of grass carpeting…” (Lioy 2007:123). Having distributed the food, it would have been reminiscent of Elisha’s miracle of multiplying 20 loaves to feed 100 men.
 
This miracle, however, far exceeded anything in the past and instead testified clearly of Jesus’ deity. Only God could send bread from heaven and Jesus as the incarnate Word (Torah) performs an act which mirrors the previous miracle in redemptive history. The crowds didn’t quite get it, but one thing was certain, they wanted to keep following this miracle worker and attempted to crown Him as king. Their motives, however, were far from Spiritual, “They were so focused on satisfying their physical needs that they did not even consider the spiritual implication of this sign” (Lioy 2007:126).
 
After a walk across the lake, Jesus once again turns his focus to the throbbing crowd by preaching. Jesus talked about a different kind of food that would permanently please and the crowd was eager to inquire what they needed to do to acquire such food. Lioy comments,
In response, Jesus explained that the ‘work’ of God was simply to trust His emissary, the one who is the embodiment of the Torah…Rather than entrust their eternal future to Jesus, the throng demanded to know what miracle He would perform to convince them to make such a commitment…This is because popular opinion among some Jews of the day was that when the Messiah came, His arrival would be accompanied by a miracle that exceeded the feat God performed in the desert on behalf of Moses….Jesus’ one-time provision of inexpensive barley bread to a multitude of people seemed junior-grade…
 
This crowd was oblivious to everything else Jesus had done, were blind, or simply wanted their appetite for more miracles to be filled. Jesus later declared Himself to be the bread of life in one of his “I am” statements found throughout the Gospel of John. Jesus then declared that life could only be found by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It is here where the crowds had issues and turned away from him. Lioy finds in this incident a compelling case for Jesus as Torah, “Jesus declared that His physical body was the ‘living bread that came down from heaven’…When the Jewish backdrop for this statement is considered, it is clear ‘the Evangelist has set out to present Jesus as the final realization of Torah itself’”(2007:132).
 
In closing, forgive me for doing some systematizing; it is clear that the Torah is “good”. It promises life to those who do everything therein written, and curses those who fail to obey its holy content. As Jesus declared Himself to be the Bread of Life, and based on Dr. Lioy’s assertion that such was declaring Himself to be Torah, Jesus was declaring Himself to be the very life promised in the fullness of the Torah, the culmination of all such promise. When asked what “works” should be done to obtain such food, Jesus declares that one needs to believe Him, eat of Him, and drink of Him. Life is no longer found in the Torah, the words written on stone, but in the living Torah, who has walked in perfect obedience to the Torah and has taken upon His body the curse due us for our disobedience. The good news of the Evangelist John is that we need only “believe” in Jesus. Jesus Himself taught as much. Our rightful response is to take up and eat and drink the living Torah and find life.
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Comments
  1. Dan Lioy says:

    Rick,

    Once again, thank you for continuing to engage my monograph on the fulfillment motif of the Torah, especially as it relates to the Lord Jesus, as present in the Gospel of John. I trust all who give serious consideration of these truths will find themselves draw closer in fellowship with the Savior and His followers.

    Dan Lioy

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