Saturday, 11 August 2012

In each other

Sunday GospelJohn 6:41-51 

The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other.
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

John Wesley said that many Christians have just enough religion to be miserable. It would seem that many others are in the same position. The people are being offered the Bread of Life, an image that they are familiar with through their own scripture. Ever since the manna in the desert the generosity of God has been imagined as bread. So the words Jesus uses make sense. This is a message that they have been waiting for.

And suddenly, this heave of humanity, the 'crowd' has become the Jews. So is this the whole crowd that Jesus is speaking to, or, those that come to challenge Jesus' message; those who believe they know better?

What is their complaint? That they don't believe the message, or that this message has come from the wrong side of town? After the feeding with bread and fish the crowd were inspired; eager to make Jesus their King, they have called him Rabbi; they give Jesus honour. Now they have been satisfied; now they seem keen to snatch it back - who does he think he is?

Jesus tells them exactly who he is. His humanity is the will of his Father - so is his divinity. He has come from the Father to do the will of the Father and the Father's will is that people will be drawn to him through Jesus. He wraps this desire in circles of calling. 

Surely they have the same desire of their ancestors - to live through God's grace? And they know that God answered Moses' prayers. And now God is offering them even more. Now they are offered eternal life through God's grace and God has already answered their prayers, before they are even spoken, through the gift of his Son. 

All they have to do is believe.

In many ways, who can blame the Jews? It isn't an easy ask whatever we may like to think. But it is what it is to have faith; we are not provided with proof. The proof comes in the effect that that faith has on our lives. Living in faith means letting go of control. It is easier to live 'in' religion. 

After all. we can choose a religion that fits our beliefs; select a framework we want to live in; self-righteously defend it against all-comers and may well be living a good life. But a meaningful life needs something more; means accepting that we don't know all the answers; that we have something to learn; that we are open to being changed. 

To be changed means to enter into a relationship with someone who calls to you, who inspires you. A giving of self, a sharing of self so deeply that you are consumed. Knowing that something else is created between you. A conversion from who you are to who you are in each other - for Life.



Lynda said...

We all need to be transformed continually by Christ and I really appreciate the wording that you have used: "a sharing of self so deeply that you are consumed." That is so beautifully expressed. Thank you.

Word in the Hand said...

Thank you Lynda. Blessings to you +

Anonymous said...

This wonderful post makes me think of a moment in my own life (I must have gotten this concept from a Zen story that I can't remember right now), a moment when I was pouring tea into an empty cup and I thought how we must humble ourselves, empty ourselves of assumptions and arrogance (not empty ourselves though), to truly have faith. Otherwise it's like pouring tea into a cup that's already filled to the brim.

Blessings! <3

Word in the Hand said...

Sounds Zen to me Jade. And just occurred to me that the teacup is intended for tea and nothing else. How often we fill ourselves with other stuff that doesn't really belong. Blessings to you. mx+