Is this all worth it?
For the last five weeks we have been listening to John offering us some pretty heavy theology about Jesus Christ (Christology), and heard Jesus describe himself as “the bread of life”.
We have slowly walked from Jesus feeding 5000 men and an unknown number of women and children in an outrageous act of uncalled for generosity. It is important to remember both this beginning and that this whole section is set at Passover – the foundational celebration of the Jews, a celebration of God’s act of liberating these once slaves, and of Moses’ role as their first great prophet, the law giver.
In all that follows Jesus is painted as the one who surpasses even Moses. All this culminates with the “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”(vs 35) Now the problems begin. Too many know who Jesus is, a carpenter from Nazareth, and this all seems too much. And then he says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”(vs 51) and that is just way too weird for a lot of those who had been following him enough to be called disciples. And most drift off back home, to their lives of longing and ???
Following Jesus can be hard work. Ask those first readers of John’s gospel. Persecutions, martyrdoms, ostracism. None of that was on the plan. They are wavering. Is this Jesus really worth all the bother? Too many had walked away and the future looked bleak. John is writing his gospel for those who have stayed but who wonder. This is a gospel of encouragement, of hope. Jesus is the one in whom they should trust and shape their lives around
Jesus’ teaching is no less difficult or weird today. And in many places the situation is no less bleak. John continues to encourage us. Through the disciples he continues to ask “Where else shall we go? In Jesus we have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that he is the Holy One of God.” (vs 68 and 69).
To know, to believe is to trust. Jesus is the song that we are to gnaw at and shape our lives around. Jesus is the one who shows us what our deepest longings are and how to live so that they might be met.