Examples from the Book

Read below for a sample from the book (scripture reference below).

Jesus and His Crazy Talk
Year B. No. 39 – Proper 14

First we need to set the context in which this passage
from John is written. If you remember, after a day of
healing the sick and feeding 5,000 people, Jesus sent the
disciples to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee so as
to avoid being made king. That night he walked on water
and the disciples worshiped him saying, “Truly you are
the Son of God.”

Do you ever wonder what that worship service was
like? Thirteen men packed together in a small fishing boat
rowing toward the western shore as the sun rises in the
east. No piano, no organ, no contemporary rock band
with a fog machine, no hymns, no sermon; just silence and
pure worship. The disciples must have sat in awe looking
and smelling, and hearing and touching the one sent by
God. Accepting and acknowledging being in the physical
presence of the Messiah must have been spell binding. Oh,
that we could worship like that! No music, no words, no
collection but washed in the presence of the Lord!

They say, “Truly he is the Son of God” and truly they
would ultimately gain the courage to carry the message
of God’s love and mercy to a lost world but this was just
the beginning. After the disciples and Jesus reach the
western shore, the flotilla following them finds him in the
synagogue in Capernaum. Remember they are thinking
about being fed again. But here Jesus is trying to get them to
understand something of more importance. He is
concerned with their spiritual nourishment. He tells them
and us he is the bread of life. He says if we come to him we
will never be hungry; if we believe in him we will never
be thirsty. Simple requests – draw near and believe in me.

Nine times in this passage the verb “come” is used in
some fashion. Jesus asks us to “come” to him. He is the
bread “come” down from heaven. I like the synonym to
“draw near.” This implies a movement or an action of one
or in this case both parties, but it is important for us to
initiate the movement toward him. Jesus says no one can
come to him unless called by the Father and it is this same
Father who has sent Jesus to us. However tentatively, we
have to step in his direction. Jesus also makes it clear that
“whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.”
So we need to believe. But how?

Clarence Jones, the founder of Koinonia, did research on the
word “believe.” This word comes from the Old English “by lief”
where “lief” means life. Thus the expression of my belief, my
faith, is in the manner in which I live my life.

For the poor folks in Capernaum, they are hearing all
of this for the first time. They are being asked to believe
in someone who doesn’t claim to be Moses but worse, he
thinks he is manna and who says he is the bread that came
down from heaven and will give eternal life.
Is it any wonder they complain and grumble? They
know his parents and he is claiming that God sends people
to him. Jesus is making crazy talk. Would we react any
differently?

I love what C.S. Lewis says in Mere
Christianity concerning how modern society has diluted
this image of Jesus. He writes:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really
foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready
to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept
his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things
Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would
either be a lunatic –on the level with the man who says he
is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is,
the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and
kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him
Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing
nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has
not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” 1

Now remember, the disciples on the boat are taking
all of this in. They have an advantage since they saw him
walk on water and have been with him awhile. The Jews
have labeled him a lunatic and in a prior visit to nearby
Nazareth they tried to kill him for proclaiming he was the
Messiah. The disciples have made the right choice and
fell to his feet and worshipped him just the night before.
For the Jews, he is making a radical departure from what
they know. He says, “Your ancestors ate the manna in the
wilderness, and they died.” Jesus is offering something
new – something different – something you don’t earn by
obeying the 613 laws found in the Old Testament. He is
offering grace.

As O. Benjamin Sparks writes:
“I am saved by grace alone. It is grace that opens
my eyes to see my sin and my need of the living God
who is made known to the world in Jesus the Christ, the
bread of life, the one who, when I come to him, will never
leave me hungry again. When – invited − I turn to him,
I have my thirst quenched from a living stream. We do
not save anyone—only God does that. And we who have
been invited and eat the living bread and drink from the
healing, life-giving stream can only bear witness. We may
bear witness not to the predicament of faith, but to the
abundance Christ brings to the hearts and lives of
believers.” 2

What a joyous thought! Christ is our abundance! This
brings clarity to the verse from John 10:10 which says, “I
came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”.
So since he came, we can draw near to him. Tell
everyone, tell your neighbors, tell yourself to “Get over
here,” where there is God’s peace and joy and love and
something amazing called grace.
Reflections
1. How do you sustain your faith?
2. How would you respond if someone said Jesus was
a “good moral teacher?”
3. How do you define abundant life?

1. Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. London: Macmillan, 1952.
2. Barlett, David L., and Barbara B. Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost. Vol. 3. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009

John 6:35, 41-51(NIV)

35 Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with
me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever….
41 At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from
heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: 42 “Isn’t this the son of
Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How
can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to
believe him?” 43 Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me.
44 You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He
draws people to me – that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do
I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready
for the End. 45 This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And
then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent
any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore
learning, comes to me to be taught personally – to see it with his own
eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from
the Father. 46 No one has seen the Father except the One who has his
Being alongside the Father – and you can see me. 47 “I’m telling you
the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has
real life, eternal life. 48 I am the Bread of Life. 49 Your ancestors ate
the manna bread in the desert and died. 50 But now here is Bread that
truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die,
ever. 51 I am the Bread – living Bread! – who came down out of heaven.
Anyone who eats this Bread will live – and forever! The Bread that I
present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-andblood
self.”

 


One thought on “Examples from the Book

  1. Excellent and relevant read; tying scripture to every day life; a wonderful trip through the liturgical calendar applied to today and tomorrow!

    Like

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