Chewing On the Words of Jesus

We have the opportunity to read labels before we purchase what we eat. We have the freedom to eat things that will bring health and energy to our bodies or just give us a quick satisfaction with no lasting food value. What is Jesus saying as he talks about this true food and true drink that brings eternal life? Are we any more ready than the Jews in the synagogue to chew on this truth that he is offering? Once again we are given the opportunity to use our free will to choose. Will you ingest the reality of Jesus and his words into your daily life and allow it to nourish and satisfy you?

John 6:52-59 (ESV)
 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

John 6:52-59TMG
At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”  But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.” He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this teaching? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

 

More Food For Your Soul

We eat and drink a variety of foods and beverages every day. In this story Jesus invites us to recognize from where our real life nourishment and wholeness comes.

If we really believe that Christ is the Bread that is most needed, how might that change our daily rhythms? Taking in food and drink are essential to fuel our physical bodies (including our mind) for our work and daily life. How is it we can feed on this Bread from heaven, the One who gives us life, now and forever? Might you see this food as essential to sustaining your life? What might this look like for you?

Prayer and the Word are "feeding tubes" for our soul.

John 6:35-51 (NLT)
 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.  However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.  And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.  For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said.  For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.  As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.  (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)
 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.  Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.  Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What spoke to you as you listened? What feelings seemed to accompany this? Sit with this and see what else the Spirit may reveal.

What do you hunger for? How do you experience Jesus as your bread of life? Take this into your prayer.

Notice any “murmurings” rising up in you and have a gentle conversation with Jesus about what you truly need.

Consider the inclusivity of God and His desire for all.

Our Need For Approval

Our need for approval is a core, essential aspect of our humanity and it helps form the attachment bonds which shape the trajectory of our lives. Jesus, who comes in the name of the Father lives rooted in the essence of who the Father is. He is a living demonstration of a life immersed in his own belovedness. Until we know the deep, deep love of God we will compare, compete and rank ourselves and others. How can we understands these abrupt words of Jesus apart from knowing the unconditional love of his Father? Today's text is given in two different versions. Immerse yourself in the crowd of hearers and notice where the Word comes alive for you.

John 5:41-47 (NLT)
“Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.
45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

John 5:41-47 (MSG)
“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
45-47 “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Is there a particular feeling you experience as you reflect on these words? Ask Jesus about it in your prayer.

Consider who has crossed your path in this last while. Reflect on the type of welcome you gave another and/or the type of welcome you received. What do you notice? Where have you observed Christ in that interaction? Talk with him about what you noticed.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Jesus asks this question in two different ways; one, he asks about who others say he is, and second, who the disciples say he is. What is Jesus really asking? Was he trying out what they were really thinking? Was he looking for perceptions that they had of him, of who he was, who they knew him to be?  What is it?  Even in Peter's answer, "You are the Christ," one wonders what Peter's understanding of "the Christ" was. 

The question is important for us as well.  It matters who we say that Jesus is. Was Jesus a holy man, a prophet, a teacher? Yes, but is that all? As we read and study the Scriptures we come to greater understanding of who Jesus was and is as God in human form. As we encounter the living Christ in our lives we have real experience of who he is. Who do you say that Jesus is when you bear witness to his presence in your life? Who is "the Christ" to you?

You might ask Christ the same question for yourself, "Jesus, who do you say that I am?"

Mark 8:27-30 (NKJV)

Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, "Who do men say that I am?"

So they answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets."

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ."

Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you have been listening in the silence, sound and spoken Word, what has come to your attention: a word, a phrase, a feeling, a sensation in your body, something you have been observing that has suddenly changed, a revelation?

Jesus seems to have been quite persistent with His disciples, at times pointing out their fear, their lack of faith, their hard hearts, and their failure to understand. This time and for the very first time out of the group a single disciple speaks up. What is happening in Peter's life? Are the eyes of his heart beginning to open slightly? Is he having a new revelation of who Jesus is?

Think of a time when, after observing something for a long time, it suddenly changes becoming deeper in its meaning and importance to you. How would you answer, "But who do you say that I am?"