I just fed Donna’s starter its slurry of warm water, sugar, and potato flakes. In its sunny spot on the kitchen counter, the starter will soon be bubbling and churning in its clear plastic jar, telling me it’s alive and feeling good. And tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be slicing into a warm loaf of Donna’s fabulous sourdough bread. Mmmm!
This morning, in my read-through-the-Bible trek, I found myself in John, chapter 6. This entire chapter is about bread and life and true deliciousness. Jesus feeds the five thousand, at which point they decide it would be a good time to grab Him and make Him king.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want a ruler who could provide abundant free food? Maybe these folks are thinking their days of toil and hardship are over…here is someone who can feed them, cure their ailments, and take on the crabby religious establishment. It seems that life is about to take a turn for the better.
But Jesus eludes the people during the night, frustrating their hopes of kinging Him.
Not to be easily put off, the crowd gets up the next morning and hunts Jesus down, eventually finding Him on the far side of the sea (now how did He get over there?!) Then ensues a strange dialogue between Jesus and the crowd of followers. Jesus basically exposes their worldly hearts and tells them they are not going to get what they came after.
What was the crowd seeking? Why were they so enamored of Jesus? They wanted signs, miracles, free bread, healing - all good stuff, but not, Jesus told them, what they should really be after.
What should they have wanted instead? Jesus Himself.
Jesus goes on to explain that if they want real life - eternal life - the people will have to eat the bread of His flesh, drink the wine of His blood.
Ugh. Many are so disgusted and appalled at Jesus’s words that they turn away. Clearly, this guy is not who they thought He was.
This passage challenges me today to consider – what “Jesus” am I seeking? Am I looking for Magic-Wand-Jesus, here to make my dearest wishes come true? Do I desire the benefits possible due to His deity – material provision, healing, security, comfort – or, do I desire Jesus Himself? Do I want the blessings Jesus can provide – or, do I want Jesus? That is not an easy question to answer, given the strong desires of my flesh.
Jesus’s true disciples made a difficult choice – they chose Jesus. They chose Him over all the temporary blessings they could’ve enjoyed in this life on earth. They suffered famine, persecution, want, illness, and even death – not quite the life the above crowd was looking for, huh? But they gained Christ.
At the end of chapter six, when many of His followers had turned away, Jesus asked his disciples, “Do you want to go away as well?”
To which Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Indeed, where else could I go? To whom could I turn to find life? Chirst IS the true bread of life, and union with Him, knowing Him, is far better than any earthly blessing I can imagine.