Friday, June 03, 2005

The Bread of Life

Hello, gentle readers...

First, let me thank you for your continued prayers for our military personnel, especially those serving in Iraq. They, regardless of their opinion about the cause or need for this war, honor their commitment to our country. The very least they deserve from us are our prayers and our gratitude. When you see a soldier, be sure to thank them for their service. They are the reason we have the blessing and privilege of living in a country as great as America.

Today I opened my bible to John 6:25-66. Please take out your bibles and read it. I hope it will speak to your heart as it has to mine.

In the context of these verses, we've just been told that Jesus walked on water. Keep this in mind when you read, because you will be amazed at the audacity of the disciples' constant request for another sign, another miracle. In v26 Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." Jesus calls them to account for their worldliness. He continues by telling them that they should focus on the spiritual, not the earthly. He speaks to them using food as an example because it is something the disciples understand. (As an aside, there's a lesson here about sharing faith with others. Use what the listener can understand. That's why Jesus spoke in parables.)

Yet, in v28 the disciples do it again. They ask Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" They focused on the doing. And what does Jesus respond? "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." Did you see it? Jesus focused on the being. Jesus says the work of God is being a believer in the Son.

We can get so caught up in doing things that we forget the most important part: being one who believes!

The disciples still didn't get it! In v30 they ask Jesus for another sign! How many signs do we need? Jesus had just come to them walking on water and they still wanted a sign! They even credited the manna to Moses, not God. (Here's another tidbit: how often do we take the miraculous around us and credit them to fate? Or circumstance? Or other people? Ouch. Guilty as charged.)

Again, Jesus tried to turn their thoughts to the spiritual. In v32 Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." The disciples asked Jesus to give them this bread because they still didn't understand the Jesus was talking about himself. Jesus tries again in v35, "I am the bread of life." You can't get much plainer than that! In v36 he says, "But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe." (Doesn't this speak to us of the wonderful patience and longsuffering of our God, not wanting any to perish but offering this eternal life to all?)

Jesus goes on to describe to them his purpose on this earth. He repeats himself over and over again, trying to get them to open their spirits to his teaching. You have to wonder if this teaching came back to them during the Passover when Jesus talked about the blood and the body, the wine and the bread.

In v 63 Jesus says, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." Wow, the flesh counts for nothing.
Does that mean of our striving to be super Christians is useless? Does a tree have to strive to be a tree? When you walk by can you hear it groaning under the weight of the burden? No. And neither should we. If you are fulfilling the work of God, believing in the one whom he sent, then you are doing the work of God. You don't have to strive. The believing is the key.

You ask what about sin? You say, "I'm always battling sin." Sin is covered by that same blood and body. That is grace! We are exhorted here to simply BE! Stop striving and start being. You'll find the Christian life so very satisfying when you take the flesh out of the picture, focus on the Sprit and BE.

I pray God will bring this teaching home to you in a very real and exciting way. Faith is seeing the holiness. Faith is believing in the Son. Faith is walking in the Spirit. Faith is living in grace.

May God richly bless you as you seek to BE.


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