Jesus doesn’t shy away from speaking graphically. He says to his listeners: “Unless you eat [my] flesh and drink [my] blood, you have no life in you.” This language and idea really offends the religious folks. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Even his disciples plead, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”
At last, Jesus reveals his point. He wants the people to “abide” in him. He wants people to live in him and to do so continuously—at all times. He draws people to himself and invites their dependence on him.
Today we tend to scorn dependence. Yet isn’t that the challenge of the Christian life—to find strength in our very weakness? Why are we so proud? What do we fear? Why do we persist in the fantasy that we are self-made men and women?
Could it be that our real issue is one of trust? Like our forebears—the disciples, the crowds, and Moses’ people in the wilderness with their manna—we find it hard to trust that God will take care of us. Sure, Jesus provided five loaves and two fish, but will he provide for us today and tomorrow and the next day? Dare we “abide” in him for our very lives?
When many turned away, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you also wish to go away?” Confused and doubtful though he was, Peter finally confesses, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
This is our choice too. When Jesus promises, “I will be your bread of life,” will we go away? Or will we dare to abide—to live in dependence on him?
Eternal God, give us the courage to accept our dependence on Jesus as our true daily bread. Amen.
God had prevented David from building a temple in Jerusalem but then permitted David’s son, Solomon, to build it. In First Kings, Solomon places the ark of the covenant in the holiest place, and God’s presence descends. The psalmist rejoices in the Temple and would rather be in its courts than anywhere else because that is where God dwells. The New Testament readings remind us that the people of God have always met with resistance. The author of Ephesians compares living the Christian life to going into battle, so we must be prepared. Jesus also meets with resistance in John. His teachings are too hard for many to accept, so they abandon him. When we face resistance, therefore, we should not be surprised; but we are also not alone.
• Read 1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43. How does your faith inform your sense of hospitality to friends and strangers?
• Read Psalm 84. Is your joy in the Lord? How does your relationship with God help you through times of sorrow?
• Read Ephesians 6:10-20. How do truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word help you live boldly as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
• Read John 6:56-69. God came to us in a messy human body. How does your embodiment help you understand what it means to abide in Christ?
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