Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, August 12, 2012 (Lectionary 19): 1 Kings 19:4–8; Psalm 34:1–8; Ephesians 4:25—5:2; and John 6:35, 41–51
Here we are in week three of five of John 6—
and we are sort of in the middle to the end of Jesus’
long discourse on bread—
We started two weeks ago when we heard the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 and then escaping the crowds by crossing over to another place on the lake.
Last week’s text tell us that the crowds got into boats and followed—looking for Jesus to give them more bread.
Jesus suggests that they are wasting their lives if they are just looking for bread to fill their stomachs
and then they have this interesting conversation about
doing the works of God,
which, apparently the work of God is believing in Jesus.
The people ask for a sign in order to believe in Jesus—hoping to get more bread,
because they suggest that their ancestors got bread from heaven
and that’s why they followed Moses.
Jesus tells them that God gave them that bread, not Moses
and then we pick up here with Jesus claiming to be the bread of life,
the bread come down from heaven
(which he says in the verses that get left out of our reading here)
and that in the end, Jesus will raise up those who believe in him
on the last day.
As I read this portion of Jesus’ and the crowd’s conversation I think there are about a million questions that come to mind but I am most compelled by two questions
—and they are not the really literal ones about bread that the crowds are kind of caught on—
instead, the are: What does it mean to believe? and What is eternal life?
Both of these things: belief and eternal life
run through this entire passage and seem to hold it together like gluten holds together rising bread.
At the same time, the crowds seem largely uninterested in these things while Jesus keeps talking about them.
And, to top it off—these are not easy things to define.
Each of them: belief and life—let alone eternal life—contain—or maybe are contained by—mystery…