My Flesh, My Blood (John 6)

Jesus wasn’t a man chasing the status quo.  He sought God’s righteousness.  And some of the things He said didn’t sit very well with the fallen people around Him.

One crystal clear example of this is the second half of John 6, where Jesus makes a bold statement.  He says to the people that they must drink of His blood and eat of his flesh in order to receive life.

Now the Jews were a people who saw cannibalism as a sin.  And that’s certainly what it sounded like Jesus was teaching them.  But they should have known that He meant something else.  He left no question on whether He followed the Father’s will.

I don’t know what I would have thought had I lived back then and heard this for the first time.  I’m guessing it would have been hard.  But we see that his closest disciples at least understood that Jesus was the one they needed to cling to.  They knew Jesus would direct them in the path of God.

I like the way Rich Mullins talked about this in an article he wrote for Release Magazine back in ’96.  Here’s what he said…

The Communion of Saints

by Rich Mullins

Release Magazine September/October 1996 

 

 

In one of those especially poignant passages that so frequently and powerfully mark the gospels and charge them with the character of Christ, we encounter Jesus and His twelve in a moment of deep sorrow followed by a great flash of glory. (And does glory ever come except on the heels of sorrow?)

Jesus has just alienated many of His disciples by telling them that they must “eat (His) body” and “drink (His) blood.” This directive must have been even more startling to its original audience than to us. They did not hear it through the filter of some 1900 of systematizing theology contrived to intellectualize and cushion us against the blow of His outrageous command. They it head on and felt the full force of it and they were repulsed.

Here, Jesus, who was habitually pushing the margin of reason into the realms of faith, crossed the line. Here, He ventured too deeply into the uncharted territory of the kingdom of God, articulated too clearly the good, yet disturbing news of that kingdom, and called for an obedience too radically opposite the reasonable sensibilities of many disciples at that time. He called them to follow too far outside their well-defined comfort lines…and they ran away in disgust or stood paralyzed in terror as Jesus walked on – walked on into the blinding light of the liberating truth He had just spoken.

The twelve stayed with Him – maybe reluctantly, maybe for reasons that they didn’t know. But when Jesus asked that heartbreaking question, “Will you also leave Me?” it is Peter – the impetuous apostle – who gives us the secret to the hidden heart of discipleship:
“Where else can we go? You have the words of life!”
Peter may very well have been as perplexed over the point of Jesus’ teaching as those who abandoned Him, but he was not confused about the person Jesus. Peter might have misunderstood His methods and mission, but he was certain that Jesus was Messiah. He may have been in the dark about where he was going, but he knew that in Jesus there was light. He may have been scared nearly to death by the demands of discipleship, but he knew that in Jesus there was life. Just before this confession of his dependency on and the sufficiency of Jesus, he had sunk in the storm of intimidating waves and been rescued by the hand of a Master who knew his weakness and the shallowness of his faith (Matthew 14:22- 31).

There is much that we are intimidated by in our walk: doctrines that run counter to our cultures and egos, tasks that seem nearly insurmountable, the weakness of our wills and the seeming severity of God’s. We can get lost in the endless debates over the mechanics of Christianity and sink in the despondency of our powerlessness to grasp the mystery of grace, but in the midst of that, we must do what the writer to the Hebrews advised and what Peter did, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” It is He who calls us and He who enables. His body is our bread; His blood our drink. He has the words of life.

Physical or Spiritual? (John 6)

It’s hard for me to read about the crowd in John 6 and not laugh.  Jesus had done a miracle for their sake, feeding them all with only 5 loafs of bread & 2 small fish.  Yet they didn’t care about the miracle.  They cared about getting their bellies filled.

Originally they had come to Him because they saw Him performing signs on the sick.  But now their temporal concerns had become the most important thing, and they wanted food.

I wonder how often we do this.  We see God working mightily in our lives, but we don’t care about that… we just want to fill our bellies.  We pass on the eternal for the things that are passing.

We need to remember that no matter how good the physical blessing, it’s only temporary.  It’s not the main thing.  Spiritual things are the reality.

Jesus is the main thing.

Consider it Pure Joy (John 6)

In John 6 we have the recording of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  Jesus, seeing the large crowd, took the opportunity to test Philip…

Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”  This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

That’s a lot of pressure to just suddenly put on Philip.  Likely he hadn’t been told to prepare for this situation, and he didn’t exactly have the resource on hand to feed all these people… at least not in the way he was looking at things.  But we don’t read about Philip flipping out or getting angry.  Philip simply answers,

“Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Philip was obviously a little bit worked up.  But he didn’t go into a self pity mode and talk about how life is to hard, or how God should make things easier on him.  He just states the situation.

I’m reminded of James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

I think Philip could have done better with his attitude, but I also think that the average follower of Christ can do better.  We get so bent out of shape over the difficulties in life, and complain about it to anyone who will listen.  But God allows us to go through those things in a way that builds us up eternally.

I pray we all would consider it pure joy when we face trials, when we are called to the difficult tasks.  Certainly, loving others is something that can be… “trying”.  It sometimes requires that we die to our selves in order to love them.  But Jesus died for us.  It’s ok if we have to die too.

Instead of complaining about having to love people and about God’s “difficult” love for us, may we remember that love is a good thing…

Love Is A Good Thing

Daily Bread (John 4)

One of my favorite passages is here in John 4.  Verses 31-34:

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

We often make it a point to eat at least three meals a day.  We constantly think about what we’re going to do for fun either when we get off of work, or over the weekend.  We save money to buy things that we think we’ll enjoy.  With 168 hours in a week, we think mostly of self fulfillment.  It seems God gets the leftovers, maybe 8 hours if we’re feeling generous.

Leftovers are such humble things,

We would not serve to a guest,

And yet we serve them to our Lord

Who deserves the very best.

We give to Him leftover time,

Stray minutes here and there.

Leftover cash we give to Him,

Such few coins as we can spare.

We give our youth unto the world,

To hatred, lust and strife;

Then in declining years we give

To him the remnant of our life.

-Author Unknown.

Jesus smacked this idea in the face with His life here on earth.  He was sustained by doing the Lord’s work.  We must change our minds and our hearts so that we are sustained by doing His will.

Don’t be fooled by the devil’s schemes.  He wants us to try to get bread out of stones, but we must remember… man lives by every word that proceeds from the Father’s mouth.  True life can only be found in Christ.  We live in Christ by doing the will of the Lord.  It’s how Jesus found His nourishment.

God said in 1 Timothy 5:6 that those who live for pleasure are dead even while they live.  They constantly go to the earthly wells, just like the Samaritan woman did in our John 4 text.  But Jesus pointed out that those wells cannot satisfy.  He said we must drink of the eternal well.  Ever notice how He gave this message twice in this passage?  Both to the Samaritan woman and to the disciples.  It’s the same idea. 

Self service leads to death.  Doing God’s will brings life.

Job 23:12 says I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.  

I’ve mentioned food a few times in this post.  

Is your mouth watering and your belly rumbling from hunger? 

Are you full to the brim from your last meal? 

Are you devouring a gourmet meal right now?

 

feast1

 

I’m speaking of spiritual food.  What portion of His will are you putting on your plate?.

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