Thursday, March 21, 2013
To Whom Shall We Go?
Imagine this with me.
You and I are amongst the crowd that is following Jesus. He has just fed the 5000 with the five loaves and two fishes. Our bellies are full. And we feel confident that this local guy that calls himself Jesus is going to be our next king. Jesus runs off and the disciples go towards the lake to head towards Capernaum. Then we realize that Jesus was with them and we didn't see him get into the boat with them? What the heck? Then you and I jump into a boat and cross the lake heading towards Capernaum in search of Jesus again. Just in case he's in the mood to feed us again. (Amen? Always down for free food!) We find Jesus, and we exclaim! "Jesus? What up!? When did you get here?" (lets be nice to him, just in case he's in the mood to feed us again.) But of course, he reads our minds and says this.
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." (Jn 6:26-27)
"How did he know what we were thinking?" I nudge you and ask. "What must we do to do the works God require?"(Jn 6:28) We ask him, trying to cover our intentions.
Jesus answers, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (Jn 6:29)
"Oh okay. That sounds easy enough. What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat." We say back. I'm sure he'll be impressed with our Bible knowledge.
Jesus responds, "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread of heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (Jn 6:32-33)
"Ahh. I like that kind of bread. Sir, always give us this bread." We say back with genuine desire.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
Whoa now. Did he just say 'I am the bread that came down from heaven?' "Um, yo, my man. Are you not Jesus? The son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can you say, I came down from heaven?"(Jon 6:41-42)
And then we listen as Jesus goes into this long rant about how he is the living bread of life, and that you have to eat from him, the living bread of life, in order to gain eternal life. His flesh is the bread. So silly sounding, and then he busts out with this dialogue about us drinking his blood so we can remain in Him!? Uhhh....come again Jesus? What are you talking about?
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Interesting twist to the story. So what's going here? The crowd had their own agenda of who they wanted Jesus to be for them. But when Jesus flexed His authority and His glory, they didn't like that. "You're Mary and Joseph's oldest son. Which makes you a nobody."
So remember the history up until this event, they were just in love with Jesus. Jesus was feeding them, working miracles, walking on water and being fun and awesome, and he's so cool and so magical we want him to be our king so he can fix all of our problems forever! But Jesus had another agenda. And His agenda was this: these miracles and signs I'm working are for you to know ME. But do you see? They missed this. And I think, sometimes, we miss it too.
Doesn't it get frustrating sometimes? I mean, we've been serving at church and leading small groups and sacrificing school work for Jesus time and discipling youth and tweeting bible verses and sometimes, we expect Jesus to be up to date on our plans. And when things don't go our way? When we are praying for something and investing in something and it doesn't go our way, what do we do? We raise our fists up at Jesus and say "How dare you not honor my plans? I've been a good girl/boy and I don't ask for much and you could have given me this! Why is this happening to me? Why are you not making this into good for those who love Him, dang it I've proven I love you haven't I? Well this ain't good right now! I can't have that?! That's hard for me to accept right now! If this is your good, then..........."
And then Jesus asks us the same question he asked that day. "You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Reader, this question brings me to my knees every single time I get in these moods. Because, believers, we will be faced with this situation one day. Perhaps some of you have already wrestled with this one already. There will be a day where everything you've ever hoped in will seem to fail you, and it seems like it's Jesus's fault because He didn't tell you to stop doing it when you first started, and you was praying and He never said hey this might end badly, He never said anything! But it went badly! And then we are faced with this dilemma----
I didn't get what I wanted from Jesus, but is Jesus more than what I wanted?
If you're slow to answer that question in the heat of the moment, don't feel too bad. And in that question he asked the twelve disciples, I tasted this sense of Him asking, "Why am I not enough for you? Was your agenda not to just know Me?" But let's think about it. Why is Jesus not enough in these moments? I mean, what you were hoping in or believing for was of good intentions right? You wasn't being evil about it. Why couldn't he just do that for you? And when we are faced with this reality of a question, and the fact that it will come a day when we are faced with this, our faith begins to stretch because for the first time in awhile we actually have to have faith in JUST THE ONE THING THAT REMAINS----
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:60-68)
The one thing that remains is Jesus's unfailing love that lasts forever! The one thing that remains is Jesus, becoming sin for us, absorbing the wrath of God on a cross, just so that we could take on His righteousness and be seen as holy and blameless before God, and to bring glory to Him by our coming into salvation and believing in the Son of God as the risen King! The one thing that remains is that Jesus is the only thing that matters when it comes to our joy and happiness. The one thing that remains is that Jesus is the giver of life, the giver of peace! The one thing that remains, His love NEVER FAILS, IT NEVER GIVES UP, AND IT NEVER RUNS OUT.
So my friends. His love never fails. Let's stay on His agenda, which was to do the will of His Father by dying for us and bringing us back into relationship with God and breathing new life into us. To whom shall we go when it gets hard? Back to death? No no...no one really wants that. Especially when we have Jesus, who is the only thing offering the way to eternal life.