Judeans And Samaritans: An Unexpected Comparison And Contrast (john 6.34-36)

34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

9-jesus-and-samaritan-woman-well8In response to Jesus’ early claims (read sections on John 6), the Galilean representatives of the hoi Iudaioi who followed Jesus to Capernaum give their response “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6.34) This response is reminiscent of the Samaritan woman’s earlier response to Jesus’ words; “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”(John 4.15) There are a number of other similarities between the two stories. For now we can say, that in this chapter, the Samaritan woman’s faith, having only heard Jesus’ words, is compared and contrasted with the unbelief of those who actually witnessed Jesus’ miracles. Let me demonstrate this for you. It’s exciting to see this.


35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

In the book of Deuteronomy, the book from which Jesus most often quoted, we read Moses’ reasons for God’s provision of manna to Israelites:

“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut.8.3)

It is interesting that Jesus speaks of himself being the bread of life that satisfies the ultimate hunger and thirst of human existence. He said this in response to representatives of the hoi Ioudaioi’s bread of life John 6demand that he show them a sign. Just like Moses before him, he proved that he could be trusted. “Moses gave manna,” they argued. “What do you give?”

What is striking, however, is that we remember Jesus said almost exactly the same words he had previously said to the Samaritan woman. Let’s compare it.

Jesus to the hoi Ioudaioi – “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6.35)

Jesus to the Samaritan woman – “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4.13-14)”


36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

As was previously noted, John wants the hearer and the reader of his Gospel to make a thematic connection between this encounter and Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. (Remember John’s likely audience.) The literary similarities that John highlights are also meant to bring out significant differences between the two responses. Let us briefly consider this:

The response of hoi Iudaioi – “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” (John 6.36)

The response of Samaritan woman and the Samaritan villagers – “So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’ They went out of the town and were coming to him.” (John 4.28-30)

To summarize this unexpected connection and comparison: the hoi Iudaioi (Jewish Israelites) who saw the miracles were not able to see them as signs (Read here) and therefore, they did not believe (John 6.36); while the Samaritans (Samaritan Israelites), who did not see a single miracle of Jesus – believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…” and “many more believed because of his (Jesus’) word.” (John 4.38-41)

Miracles were not enough for one group. God’s words were enough for the other group. Perhaps, this is the reason that in another Gospel tradition, Jesus quotes Deut. 9.3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt.4.4) The implication is clear, especially in John. Jesus is God’s word. Humanity will live by God’s word, which means it will live by Jesus himself.


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© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.

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  1. Fred Aguelo

    Many times we put too much emphasis on what Pharisees or Sadducces say but what really matters is what YESHUA said. In fact, in Mark 12:24, YESHUA said to the Sadducces, “Isn’t this the reason why you go astray? Because you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and the power of G-d?” In Luke 7:30, Luke narrates that the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected G-d’s plan for their lives. And YESHUA said, “Why don’t you understand what I’m saying? Whoever belongs to G-d listens to what G-d says; the reason you don’t listen is that you don’t belong to G-d.”(Jn 8:43, 47) This is very relevant to us today because what happened to the Jews are happening in churches today.

  2. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    Wonderful is the ten times mention of the words ‘(bread, food)) from heaven’ in John 6 (vss. in connection with 1, 18 en 3,13.
    John 4, 31-37 fits in the story with the Samaritan woman en speaks about the ‘food of Jesus’,
    that’s to do the will of the Father . Wonderful is also that who can see here too the connection with John 6, where is three times in the same context the mention of ‘the will of the Father’.(vss. 6, 38.39.40 ; see also 5:30).
    So: The food of Jesus is to do the will of the Father Who is in heaven. It is to be the food from heaven to give (eternal) live to the word (earth).

  3. Kansas Dad

    This is again a situation of trying to fit preconcieved ideas into a situation so that a chance to live is missed. Here the ‘hoi Iudoioi’ missed out on a chance to ‘believe’ in the Messiah. They came with the preconceived idea of Meshiach ben David, rather than Meshiach ben Joseph. As you pointed out in earlier parts of this review of John that there was a corolation between the Samaritan Israelite woman and Joseph in their suffering. {BTW always had a problem with the “fallen woman” being able to arouse so much interest in the men of the town to come out and see ‘the man who told me everything I did’; would tzadik men listen to a prostitute, let alone follow her out and speak with an Israelite Jew?). Then we fall into the same trap by trying to fit Yeshuas words into our belief. Not knowing the traditions of the time, the politics of the time, the teachings of the time (Hillel vs Shemi) all color the writings of each of the writers of the 1st Century. Thank you for taking up this task of enlightening us on what John was trying to teach us.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think that while you are right, it is even more complex than how you imagine it to be… and even more than I do too :-).

    2. Peter Carter


      Yes I agree with what you have said about them missing the messiah. But when you think of many of the mistakes that they made I want to be cautious that we as twenty first Christians are not making similar mistakes when we expect the return?

      So many predictions are being made as to how, when and where He will return. A lot is being said about him coming to judge and with fiery swords. What about Jesus being the servant of all?

      1. Kansas Dad

        Shalom Peter,
        Yes, we followers of Yeshua (Jesus) must be careful that we too do not harden our hearts as the ‘Judeans’, that Eli has so wonderfully described, and try to put Yeshua into a box of our design. Those ‘Judeans’ were looking for the Meshiach ben David (Messiah son of David) the warrior Messiah who would restore the Kingship of David and destroy all the enimies of Israel. Yeshua did not come as that, he came as Meshiach ben Joseph (Messiah son of Joseph) the suffering servant shown to us through prophecy by Isaiah in ch 53. Meshiach ben David is shown to us in Deut., Num., Zeph., Mal., Zech..

        Yes there are so many predictions about the comming of Meshiach. And yes, many will poiint to this or that, and say “see, this is happening! Now He will come!” And come He will, Paul says in 1 Thes. 5:2 that he will “come like a thief in the night”, meaning only when the time is right.

        As to Yeshua being the ‘servant of all’, when He ascended into heaven, He took his rightful place, at the right hand of Adonai (Acts 7:54) to be our High Priest (Heb. 9:17-20). How will he return, not as the Meshiach ben Joseph, the suffering servant, who gave His life as an atonement for our sins! No, He has already done that. No, He will come as Meshiach ben David as predicted in Revelations 19:11-17

        1. Peter Carter

          Thank you for your comment. Yes I love what you say, and to a large extent I agree with you.

          I had a moment when I read the words of Jesus where he speaks about servant hood and tells us that in the kingdom the least shall be the greatest.

          I cried out saying how can you say that you are the least you are God almighty!

          Yes He replied, I served by making the universe, dieting on the cross, and every day my spirit is with you helping you.

          Yes I do believe that there will be a day of judgement, but even then I see Jesus being our deliverer.

          The anti Christ will come as a violent man Jesus as a just and righteous man

          1. Sonia Willats

            Hi Peter, I agree. I have for a while now realised that the Day of Judgement will also be a day of deliverance. I imagine that all of us – even those “saved” will grieve for all of our sins (committed and omitted) and yet also delight to see HIM in all is given, anointed, risen Glory, so that it will not be about us, but about Him, about the Ancient of Days, about the salvation of Israel and the Kingdom of G-d with Men. So we will delight in Him even as we are judged and found wanting, but also found to be forgiven; thus delivered.

  4. Peter Carter

    This is an example of how the bible is very clear, but because we come to it with preconceived ideas we miss the beautiful facts.

    Throughout God’s word I find places where we try to make the bible fit our theology rather than change our beliefs to fit the bible

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes! I agree. The more we come to bible with openness and let it shape our minds the better it would be :-). Thanks, Peter for your comments! Dr. Eli

  5. theresa cawood

    Wonderful comparison between chapter 4 (living water)and 6 (living bread). Did not see the connection previously. Thank you! Looking forward for your comments on the rest of chapter 6 where the water becomes blood – drink My blood.

    Yes as you say “Jesus is God’s word. Humanity will live by God’s word, which means it will live by Jesus himself”. In Genesis 1 God created the earth through His Words. Jesus was there at Creation. Water is life. Bread is life. The Word is life. Jesus is the living Water, the living Bread, the living Word. Man was born by Gods Word and man will have etenale life by Gods Word. Jesus.
    God bless!

    theresa cawood