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A Hard Teaching

 

Jesus, the Bread of Life.    (John 6:25-71).

            When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you are 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.  On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

            Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”’

            Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One he has sent.”

            So they asked him, “What miraculous sign will you give that we may see it and believe you?  What will you do?  Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

            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.  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

            “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”

            Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  But as I told you, you have seen me and still do not believe.  All that 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 that he has given me, but raise them up 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 him up at the last day.”

            At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

            Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.  No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.  I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.  I am the bread of life.  Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

            Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves.  “How can he give us his flesh to eat?”

            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.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.  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.  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.”  He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

            On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard saying.  Who can accept it?”

            Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?  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 are spirit and they are 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 him.”

            From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

            “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

            Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

            Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?  Yet one of you is a devil.”  (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

           
Eat His Flesh! Drink His Blood!”  Easier said than done!  And as many of the disciples said: “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?”

            It’s no wonder the disciples were found to be grumbling among themselves as serious discussion was probably taking place at that time.  On the surface, it hardly made sense, but after Jesus did some explaining, the Twelve could only agree with Jesus and say: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  So, for the disciples to “eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood” did not mean for them to be cannibals and vampires; the same is true for us today.  Earlier, Jesus had said to them: “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (v. 35).  What could these statements mean?  Would being hungry imply a need to know God?  Would being thirsty imply a need for a relationship with God?  People do need bread and water to nourish and maintain their physical bodies, but Jesus is talking about something beyond that; he’s talking about knowing him and believing in him and his Father.

            Jesus stated: “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”  (v.55). Could Christ’s flesh be described as information about God, about life?  Could Christ’s blood be described as information about God and the Cross, about death?  Jesus also stated something startling about this.  He said: “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.” (v.51). Digesting this information about God will maintain life for individuals and will ensure that a person will live for all eternity, according to Jesus’ own words.  He further stated: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”  (v.63). This assurance of Jesus’ words adds authenticity to everything Jesus had been telling the disciples.

            If a person is hungry to know God, Jesus stated in these verses that they will come to him, and as he told them: “whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.” (v.37). The absolutely great news about this is: “They will all be taught by God!” (v.45). What more could anyone want from God?  This is fabulous news!  Just think: the Creator of the Universe will teach anyone willing to listen!  Nothing like getting it straight from the Source from the start!  What a God to be willing to do that!  God makes it easy to trust him because he does what he says he will do, and he will teach everyone on a one-on-one basis  -  no problem!

            In addition to being taught by God, the development of the relationship with God will lead to friendship, which, no doubt, is God’s goal.  When Jesus talked about The Vine and the Branches, he told the disciples then: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:15.  Harmony; Agreement; Oneness; Unity; Reconciliation; Friendship.  How wonderful!


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