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John 6:30-35, NIV
30 So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
32 Jesus said to them, "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. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." 35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life."
March 31. 2011Jesus, we hear what you say, but you must do something that will make it worthwhile to believe in you. Does that translate into--the greater the sign, the stronger my faith will be? Is this about trusting Jesus? Or seeking excitement, a divergence from the ordinary? Jesus, what will you do, something I can see so I will know if I want to go farther with you? We still think like that today.
Then there's precedent and the experience of past generations. Back in the days of Moses our forefathers ate manna every day during their sojourn in the wilderness. It was like bread from heaven. They did not grow nor harvest it. They just had to go out in the morning and pick it up from the ground.
Those Old Testament stories about the manna are interesting. The people had to pick only one days supply. If they picked up more than that, it turned moldy. Neither could they hoard it or take their neighbor's share. God had rules that came with the manna. These forefathers, although grateful for the nourishment that kept them alive, complained to Moses about the manna because they tired of it. They begged for some variety?
To the crowd gathered around him, Jesus said something that sounded like this, "It is not Moses who gives bread from heaven. Give credit to whom it belongs. If you want the true bread from heaven, it will be Godwho sends it to you. In fact, it's already here and available to you and to all the world. For sure, I am the bread that gives life to all mankind."
His invitation still stands--Come to me and never be hungry. Believe in me and never be thirsty. Feed on me and live. Unlike the manna, we can't complain that the bread of life lacks variety. In his day or in ours, Jesus is the bread of life, not death. He is the Lord of diversity, not sameness.
More journal entries
January 16, 2002
The tone here reminds me of Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well, except that she never asked for a sign. When Jesus told her about living water, she wanted it and asked him to give her some. That woman went back into town and behaved like she had already received the living water. She told everyone about the man who told her everything she had ever done--Could this be the Messiah?
What sign? How shall we know with any certainty? In Moses day, it was the miraculous daily manna. People put their faith in that manna and survived the wilderness experience. They could sleep well at night knowing the manna would be there in the morning.
Jesus responded: Yes, Moses gave you manna, but now God is offering you true bread from heaven which will provide life not just for your kin, but for the whole world. The offer sounded like a good deal so the people near Jesus asked him for some of this bread, not just today but for every day of their lives. When Jesus said, "I am the bread of life" they knew it wouldn't be as easy as the meal on the mountainside.
Jesus: Here's the gift, but you must believe in order to receive it. The people: If you want us to believe, then you must show us a sign to convince us to trust you. Sounds like an impasse. The ball is in your court; no, it's in your court.
It's a bewildering concept. If Jesus is the bread of life, how does one receive it? We can't physically eat him. The bread of heaven does not go through the stomach. It proceeds through the mind and spirit of a person, and presses forward through the heart and soul. Miracles are like parables: they have two meanings, one external and clearly visible, the other hidden, revealing the mysteries of the higher life.
April 15, 1983
What will you do? What work do you do? Did Jesus feel insulted? Jesus, what do you do all day? Prove to us that you are sent from God. What sign? They had just eaten his meal the day before, yet they ask Jesus to perform a miraculous feat. Again they are thinking of physical food while Jesus is teaching a spiritual lesson.
Jesus put much effort into prayer so God's power would flow through him. But who noticed? People thought the miracles just happened, the same goes for his parables and brilliant responses to questions.
Jesus labored in prayer, in treating people with grace and compassion, in being God's perfect expression. He labored at fixing his mind on his heavenly Father and the work they were doing together, so as not to be distracted by sin or by good, but lesser pursuits. He worked at being empty of himself so he could be filled by the Spirit of God.
I, too, ask for and expect daily experiences of God's presence. I know how difficult it is to believe when I don't "see" the evidence.
April 19, 1983What matters is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that now my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. What matters is now. And the impact the true bread from heaven has on changing lives.
Jesus is greater than Moses. Therefore, believe and don't harden your hearts like your forefathers did. God is giving you the true bread from heaven. True sustenance to satisfy body, soul and spirit. Moses' manna is in your heritage, you haven't experienced it yourself. Jesus' bread you can experience today, first hand.
Father, satisfy my body today with bread from heaven. I am such an inferior vessel to be getting your bread. So human, so weak, delighting in familiar comforts. Guide my decisions, that's so important for reaching healthy ends. Sometimes I feel I just get crumbs from heaven. I feel disappointed yet try to be grateful. I get just a taste, never more. A taste of the Spirit, never Pentecost. Thank you for the taste and lead me on. Help me to trust my life to you.
April 25, 1983If God is more eager to give me this bread than I am to receive it, then why does it seem that I'm begging God to give me some? Bread that gives life to the world, sounds more corporate than individual.
If God renews the strength of those who wait on him, why am I so tired? Either I'm not waiting or he's not giving. I'm in sad shape today--inactivity takes me down. I need to get moving. Life for me is--something significant to do which gives life meaning.
Father, you know what I need better than I do. I trust you to supply what I really need. In weakness and in strength, I'm in your hands. When I lack vitality and feel no energy, I am just as much yours as when I'm going strong. Faith is much stronger and more reliable than feelings.
April 27, 1983Bread from heaven gives life to the world. Not only for the children of Israel in the wilderness, but to the whole world. The bread of God in the person of Jesus is far superior to what Moses gave.
Jesus the bread of life. Bread satisfies one's hunger. Keeps a person alive. A hungry soul feeding on the bread of life can rally again like the skeletons which the Spirit of the Lord showed to Ezekiel in the valley of of dry bones.
April 28, 1983
The crowd asked Jesus, "What work will you do? What sign/proof can you give?" A true disciple would ask, "Jesus, what could I do for you? How can I serve you?", not how can you serve me. I must be careful to be a disciple and not like the crowds.
Yet the Bible also says, "Ask." If you have need of something, ask God for it. But the asking attitude is completely different between a disciple and the crowds. Both ask. Both should ask. God wants to supply our needs and approves when we look to him instead of ourselves or human powers. God works through, with, and in other people. But God is the power behind it all. So as a disciple I can make the same request the people in the crowd did. "Lord, please give me this bread, now and always."
In return, I give God my life, my strength, intellect, energy, will, talents and potential, what I am and have and hope to be. Maybe our Lord gives life to us in direct proportion to how we give ourselves to him.
April 29, 1983I can't tell if Jesus is praising these people or condemning their motives for seeking him. But I'm sure he was wishing for something more from them, just as they wanted more from him.
Why do I seek you? It's a part of my life now. I get up in the morning and read the Bible, pray, write, listen, receive, ponder; then pray and write some more. I pray because you are my heavenly Father, I am your child and my face is set toward Home. I love you. I love the way you lead and prepare me for living. You make me strong, and quiet my mind so I can think. Trusting you is the most beautiful and exciting way I have ever lived. I have no desire for any other way. You are the best, I know of nothing better.