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51 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
April 23, 2011I often make things more difficult than they really are. Last week while reading a book by Ruth Haley Barton I came upon the words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 30:14 and this verse jumped out at me. Here it is in context: "What I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. "See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. . . . Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life . . . ."
It's as simple, profound and mysterious to us today as the manna was to the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness toward the land of promise. Jesus, the bread from heaven has superseded the manna. Jesus the word and voice of God, is very near; in my mouth and in my heart so that I may believe, obey, and choose to receive the gift of life.
It is not difficult. I don't have to knead the dough and bake this bread. I don't need to work to buy it. Feeding on Jesus is as simple as eating the daily bread which has been provided for me. Here's a sampling of what is involved---Being mindful of Jesus in my everyday life; chewing on the words he spoke; savoring the gifts from our loving heavenly Father. The Word is very near, in my mouth and in my heart; take, eat, and live.
More journal entries
April 24, 2011 Deuteronomy is the last of the five books of Moses that begin our Bible. Moses was their leader as the children of Israel journeyed between Egypt and Canaan and ate the daily manna. Every succeeding generation made sure the next generation learned the many stories associated with Moses.Jewish people organized their lives around the ancient commandments, and had kept their cultural identity alive for 2000 years.
The people Jesus was talking to were very familiar with the books of Moses. But never did they think the ancient words would take on additional meaning in their lifetime. They were not expecting new testimony which they could choose to participate in. When Jesus told them he was new "manna" in their mouth which they could eat and never die, they rejected the whole idea.
We can understand their reluctance to believe what Jesus told them. We like to hold on to what is familiar to us also. And so they grumbled and argued with each other; some outright rejected everything Jesus proclaimed. That behavior is easy to understand, too.
In the end, while Jesus moved into the future and his followers wrote a New Testament, they stayed with Moses, Elijah, king David and the other celebrated champions of the Old Testament.
May 25, 1983For Nicodemus, eternal life was linked to being born anew. To the woman at the well it was living water. Here in this instance eternal life is associated with bread that is far superior to the manna Moses gave. I tell you the truth; I solemnly assure you. Jesus is very serious here. Eternal life is ready for you now.
Eternal life means changed priorities, new loyalties, transformed desires, and power from the Holy Spirit to inspire and be faithful to commitments.
Thank you Jesus for being the bread of life. Thank you for offering yourself for me and to me. In prayer I hold my hands out to you. Jesus said if I believe I will live--I don't have to feel it, only believe it. Through prayer I feed on you. Through you I have eternal life. You said it and it is so. Thank you.
May 27, 1983I was thinking the other evening while walking the dog about how fragmented the lives of most people are. The living bread from heaven does not satisfy because Jesus is just a small part of our lives. There are too many other distractions, priorities and commitments. When our desire and love for God does not permeate the whole of our lives, the bread from heaven no longer satisfies and we begin to burn out. Somewhere along the line other things, people, and/or goals become more important.
One of the agonies of falling away is that you know Jesus should satisfy you but you know he doesn't satisfy you. What is the most important thing to me in this stage of my life? Is it a current and active relationship with God, or is it a number of other things too? The answer to that question shows whether my devotion to God is wholehearted or not. Jesus can satisfy the longing of my heart, but only if I surrender all my longings to Him.
When we are so full of other things, we have no room for the bread of life! That's a result of our fragmented living. We have no more desire for God than we have for watching the "take it or leave it" evening news. To eat the bread of life we must be hungry for God. The Psalmist (Psalms 42:1) expressed it this way, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God."
Because I am made in the image of God, I am satisfied only by him. But God doesn't nourish me when my eyes are fixed on everything but him. Which is the source of my restlessness. When I'm not in tune with God nothing satisfies me, not even those things/people that I think I want. I have to drop the baggage, and return to my Father in heaven to discover the bread that sustains and the water that restores my soul.
May 28, 1983The people in the crowd knew that no one lived for ever. Why did Jesus say things that they knew were impossible? Jesus wasn't down to earth this time. He was talking so strangely.
Jesus' listeners asked a good question, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" This man--that's how they saw him. Eating the flesh of another person disgusted them as it well should have. Their question showed they had no idea what Jesus was talking about.
If Jesus really used the words John puts in his mouth, he is very difficult to understand. Why? Was there no way to say simply and clearly what Jesus had to say? Did Jesus deliberately want his listeners to not understand (so the prophecies would be fulfilled)? I'm glad I don't have to understand in order to believe.
May 30, 1983Father, some days nothing seems to happen as I sit in your presence and try to feed on your word, and this is one of those times. Other mornings it flows freely and I can't explain where the delight comes from other than from you. Thank you for your blessings on those days, and thank you for days like today which round out my life. This too is part of my spiritual life.
April 26, 2011Jesus' body, given as life for the world. Help me now to take and eat, and to cultivate love as I take and eat.
The message of eternal life is about giving--the Father giving his beloved and only son; the Son giving his life to save the world. Then what are we to give? Surely we are not given eternal life in order to hoard and keep it unto ourselves. Just as Jesus came to make the Father known, so I believe our task is also to make the Father known and to live in such a way that will draw everyone we can to him. Jesus said a light is not meant to be hidden under a basket. Rather it is put on a pedestal so everyone can benefit. We are not the givers of eternal life, we only light the pathway and help people find it.
June 3, 1983These words of Jesus evoked conflict. The ones who shouted the loudest and talked the most thought they had won the argument. But power and strength are not what they appear to be. Jesus proved that. He used his power and authority for other people, not against them--that's love.
Imagine the argument breaking out in the synagogue over what Jesus said. Right there in public for all to see and hear. Debating whether to believe Jesus or not. Passionately discussing what to do with Jesus and how to counteract his claim on the people. Arguing to defend their God, their religion and traditions. It must have been a lively session but not accomplishing anything, except elevated blood pressures.
June 6 1983Unless you eat, you are not really living at all. Jesus is still contrasting himself to Moses and the manna. That wasn't the real stuff; but the bread of Jesus' body is real! We look at things just the opposite; the physical is real; the spiritual is something other than real.
You had to be drawn to Jesus and love Him in order to learn from Him and begin to understand his words and the life he was offering. Like that quote from Schweitzer--as we follow Jesus, we will come to know who he is.
June 7, 1983Jesus is real food! I like this part about Jesus sharing my life and me sharing his. Sharing life and sharing love is sacred communion. Now in my mind I eat the bread of your body and drink the wine of your blood.
Jesus lives in me as I feed on him. Not once and done, but continuously taking Jesus into my body, my innermost being, digesting him, so he's part of me and I'm a part of him.
June 9, 1983Tragedy struck again last evening. But help me move on--to eat the bread and drink the wine. It's hard, amid trouble, to concentrate on anything else.
Much of this section is reiteration of previous statements. Repetition for the sake of learning and clarity. The one in their midst was far greater than Moses, much greater than their sacred history.
Greatness in our midst is not recognized. Hindsight is needed. After the resurrection, some of the people in this crowd may have become believers on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3,000 men and women joined the ranks of the disciples.
Blessed are those who believe and have never seen Him. Blessed are those who never lose faith in Jesus. Blessed are those who eat his bread and drink his wine.
Because Jesus is now Spirit I have greatness in my midst, and power, wisdom, love, righteousness. All the resources for an abundant life. Thank you, Jesus, and help me to see, experience and know the reality of this truth.
June 11, 1983Help me feed on Jesus--thoughtfully, lovingly, deliberately, and with full attention anticipating that I will be satisfied.
When you eat something it becomes part of your body. But how do I remain in Christ when I partake of his flesh? When a women has a baby, the parent's genes and life are in the baby and remain in the child. But the child also becomes part of the parent and remains in the parent forever, a spiritual union.
April 27, 2011Like a candle which gives its life while giving light, so Jesus offered up his body to give life to the world.
When I live in you, you will live in me. Whoever eats the body of Jesus and drinks his blood remains in Jesus and Jesus remains in them. At another place in John's gospel, Jesus said--When you abide in me, I abide in you; not only me but my Father in heaven also abides in you when you abide in me. It's a circle. Our spirits abide in each other!
When you remain/abide it implies lingering. To stick around or stick with (or in the next reading--to stick by). Or to hold fast to him, as in the passage from Deuteronomy.
Father, how beautiful it is to be loved by you and feel the closeness of your presence. How peaceful and satisfying. Thank you for bringing me to this. The journey goes on; keep me close to you.