John 6:51-59

51 "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." 52 Then the Jews began to
argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his
flesh to eat?"

53 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.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and
I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my
blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me, and I in him. 57 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. 58 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." 59 He said this while teaching in
the synagogue in Capernaum.


April 23, 2011
I often make things more difficult than they really are. Last week while
reading a book by Ruth Haley Barton I came upon the words of Moses
recorded in Deuteronomy 30:14 and this verse jumped out at me.
Here it is in context:

      "What I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or
       beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, 
      'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we
      may obey it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 
      'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may
      obey it?' No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth
      and in your heart so you may obey it.

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and
      destruction. . . . Now choose life, so that you and your children
      may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his
      voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life . . . ."

It's as simple, profound and mysterious to us today as the manna was to
the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness toward the land
of promise. Jesus, the bread from heaven has superseded the manna.
Jesus the word and voice of God, is very near; in my mouth and in my
heart so that I may believe, obey, and choose to receive the gift of life.

It is not difficult. I don't have to knead the dough and bake this bread.
I don't need to work to buy it. Feeding on Jesus is as simple as eating the
daily bread which has been provided for me. Here's a sampling of what
is involved---Being mindful of Jesus in my everyday life; chewing on the
words he spoke; savoring the gifts from our loving heavenly Father.
The Word is very near, in my mouth and in my heart; take, eat, and live.

                                                                                  More journal entries

April 24, 2011
Deuteronomy is the last of the five books of Moses that begin our Bible.
Moses was their leader as the children of Israel journeyed between Egypt
and Canaan and ate the daily manna. Every succeeding generation made
sure the next generation learned the many stories associated with Moses.
Jewish people organized their lives around the ancient commandments,
and had kept their cultural identity alive for 2000 years.

The people Jesus was talking to were very familiar with the books of
Moses. But never did they think the ancient words would take on additional
meaning in their lifetime. They were not expecting new testimony which
they could choose to participate in. When Jesus told them he was new
"manna" in their mouth which they could eat and never die, they rejected
the whole idea.

We can understand their reluctance to believe what Jesus told them.
We like to hold on to what is familiar to us also. And so they grumbled
and argued with each other; some outright rejected everything Jesus
proclaimed. That behavior is easy to understand, too.

In the end, while Jesus moved into the future and his followers wrote a
New Testament, they stayed with Moses, Elijah, king David and the
other celebrated champions of the Old Testament.

May 25, 1983
For Nicodemus, eternal life was linked to being born anew. To the
woman at the well it was living water. Here in this instance eternal life
is associated with bread that is far superior to the manna Moses gave.
I tell you the truth; I solemnly assure you. Jesus is very serious here.
Eternal life is ready for you now.

Eternal life means changed priorities, new loyalties, transformed desires,
and power from the Holy Spirit to inspire and be faithful to commitments.

Thank you Jesus for being the bread of life. Thank you for offering yourself
for me and to me. In prayer I hold my hands out to you. Jesus said if
I believe I will live--I don't have to feel it, only believe it. Through prayer
I feed on you. Through you I have eternal life. You said it and it is so.
Thank you.

May 27, 1983
I was thinking the other evening while walking the dog about how
fragmented the lives of most people are. The living bread from heaven
does not satisfy because Jesus is just a small part of our lives. There
are too many other distractions, priorities and commitments. When
our desire and love for God does not permeate the whole of our lives,
the bread from heaven no longer satisfies and we begin to burn out.
Somewhere along the line other things, people, and/or goals
become more important.

One of the agonies of falling away is that you know Jesus should satisfy
you but you know he doesn't satisfy you. What is the most important
thing to me in this stage of my life? Is it a current and active relationship
with God, or is it a number of other things too? The answer to that
question shows whether my devotion to God is wholehearted or not.
Jesus can satisfy the longing of my heart, but only if I surrender all
my longings to Him.

When we are so full of other things, we have no room for the bread of
life! That's a result of our fragmented living. We have no more desire
for God than we have for watching the "take it or leave it" evening news.
To eat the bread of life we must be hungry for God. The Psalmist
(Psalms 42:1) expressed it this way, "As the deer pants for streams
of water, so my soul pants for you, O God."

Because I am made in the image of God, I am satisfied only by him. But
God doesn't nourish me when my eyes are fixed on everything but him.
Which is the source of my restlessness. When I'm not in tune with
God nothing satisfies me, not even those things/people that I think I want.
I have to drop the baggage, and return to my Father in heaven to discover
the bread that sustains and the water that restores my soul.

May 28, 1983
The people in the crowd knew that no one lived for ever. Why did Jesus
say things that they knew were impossible? Jesus wasn't down to earth
this time. He was talking so strangely.

Jesus' listeners asked a good question, "How can this man give us his
flesh to eat?" This man--that's how they saw him. Eating the flesh of
another person disgusted them as it well should have. Their question
showed they had no idea what Jesus was talking about.

If Jesus really used the words John puts in his mouth, he is very
difficult to understand. Why? Was there no way to say simply and
clearly what Jesus had to say? Did Jesus deliberately want his listeners
to not understand (so the prophecies would be fulfilled)? I'm glad I don't
have to understand in order to believe.

May 30, 1983
Father, some days nothing seems to happen as I sit in your presence
and try to feed on your word, and this is one of those times. Other
mornings it flows freely and I can't explain where the delight comes from
other than from you. Thank you for your blessings on those days, and
thank you for days like today which round out my life. This too is part
of my spiritual life.

April 26, 2011
Jesus' body, given as life for the world. Help me now to take and eat,
and to cultivate love as I take and eat.

The message of eternal life is about giving--the Father giving his beloved
and only son; the Son giving his life to save the world. Then what are we
to give? Surely we are not given eternal life in order to hoard and keep it
unto ourselves. Just as Jesus came to make the Father known, so
I believe our task is also to make the Father known and to live in such
a way that will draw everyone we can to him. Jesus said a light is not
meant to be hidden under a basket. Rather it is put on a pedestal so
everyone can benefit. We are not the givers of eternal life, we only
light the pathway and help people find it.

June 3, 1983
These words of Jesus evoked conflict. The ones who shouted the loudest
and talked the most thought they had won the argument. But power and
strength are not what they appear to be. Jesus proved that. He used his
power and authority for other people, not against them--that's love.

Imagine the argument breaking out in the synagogue over what Jesus
said. Right there in public for all to see and hear. Debating whether to
believe Jesus or not. Passionately discussing what to do with Jesus
and how to counteract his claim on the people. Arguing to defend their
God, their religion and traditions. It must have been a lively session but
not accomplishing anything, except elevated blood pressures.

June 6 1983
Unless you eat, you are not really living at all. Jesus is still contrasting
himself to Moses and the manna. That wasn't the real stuff; but the
bread of Jesus' body is real! We look at things just the opposite; the
physical is real; the spiritual is something other than real.

You had to be drawn to Jesus and love Him in order to learn from Him
and begin to understand his words and the life he was offering. Like
that quote from Schweitzer--as we follow Jesus, we will come to
know who he is.

June 7, 1983
Jesus is real food! I like this part about Jesus sharing my life and me
sharing his. Sharing life and sharing love is sacred communion. Now in
my mind I eat the bread of your body and drink the wine of your blood.

Jesus lives in me as I feed on him. Not once and done, but continuously
taking Jesus into my body, my innermost being, digesting him, so he's
part of me and I'm a part of him.

June 9, 1983
Tragedy struck again last evening. But help me move on--to eat the bread
and drink the wine. It's hard, amid trouble, to concentrate on anything else.

Much of this section is reiteration of previous statements. Repetition for
the sake of learning and clarity. The one in their midst was far greater
than Moses, much greater than their sacred history.

Greatness in our midst is not recognized. Hindsight is needed. After the
resurrection, some of the people in this crowd may have become
believers on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3,000 men
and women joined the ranks of the disciples.

Blessed are those who believe and have never seen Him. Blessed are
those who never lose faith in Jesus. Blessed are those who eat his bread
and drink his wine.

Because Jesus is now Spirit I have greatness in my midst, and power,
wisdom, love, righteousness. All the resources for an abundant life.
Thank you, Jesus, and help me to see, experience and know the reality
of this truth.

June 11, 1983
Help me feed on Jesus--thoughtfully, lovingly, deliberately, and with full
attention anticipating that I will be satisfied.

When you eat something it becomes part of your body. But how do
I remain in Christ when I partake of his flesh? When a women has a
baby, the parent's genes and life are in the baby and remain in the child.
But the child also becomes part of the parent and remains in the parent
forever, a spiritual union.

April 27, 2011
Like a candle which gives its life while giving light, so Jesus offered up his
body to give life to the world.

When I live in you, you will live in me. Whoever eats the body of Jesus
and drinks his blood remains in Jesus and Jesus remains in them. At
another place in John's gospel, Jesus said--When you abide in me, I abide
in you; not only me but my Father in heaven also abides in you when you
abide in me. It's a circle. Our spirits abide in each other!

When you remain/abide it implies lingering. To stick around or stick with
(or in the next reading--to stick by). Or to hold fast to him, as in the
passage from Deuteronomy. 

Father, how beautiful it is to be loved by you and feel the closeness of
your presence. How peaceful and satisfying. Thank you for bringing me
to this. The journey goes on; keep me close to you.

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