Gospel of John: Moses’ Law

Jesus’ brothers had urged Jesus to go up to Jerusalem for Sukkoth, the people’s favorite holiday, known to us as the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. They pointed out to him that people who want to grow a movement don’t skulk around in the backwaters, they get out there to the front.

Jesus demurred, telling them his time was not yet ready, to go on ahead without him. Then he did stay behind in Galilee.

But, John continued, “After his brothers went up to the festival, then also [Jesus] went up—not publicly but rather in secret.” (John 7:10)

Jesus most likely stayed with his friends in Bethany, then went quietly to the Feast once it was underway. There were several groups of people swirling around in Jerusalem.

  • First there were the locals, who knew what was going on.
  • There were pilgrims from out of town who had heard of Jesus, and remembered him from the last Festival, but didn’t realize there was a death warrant out on him.
  • The temple guards were present everywhere.
  • And of course, the religious authorities, most notably the Pharisees and chief priests, mingled with the festival participants.

As he walked through the crowds, Jesus could hear what they were saying about him.

So then, the Judeans were seeking [Jesus] in the festival, and were saying, “Where is that one?”

And much muttering-grumbling concerning him was in the crowd, many were saying that he is good, but others were saying, “No! But rather he is deceiving, seducing, and leading the crowd astray!”

Nevertheless, not one was speaking freely concerning him because od the fear of the Judeans.

John 7:11-13

Jesus went to the most public place available, the temple, most likely Solomon’s Porch, where he had taught at other times, and began to speak. Typically, when rabbis would teach, they would always begin by quoting other famous rabbis and theologians.

But when Jesus taught, he invariably said, “Truly I say to you…” This amazed the crowds.

Therefore the Judeans were marveling, and saying, “How does this one perceive and know the writings who has not learned [been educated]?”

The scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the Law, John 7:15

So, Jesus revealed the source of His teaching.

  1. “My teaching is not of me, but rather of the One Who sent me.”  John 7:16. There was no reason to quote mere men when Jesus’ teaching came straight from God.
  1. “Whoever wants to do the will of [God], will come to know, recognize, perceive and understand, concerning the teachings, whether it is out of God or I speak from myself.” John 7:17 How could a person tell if that were true? Jesus challenged them to be honest with themselves. How willing were they (and are you and me today) to surrender their wills to God’s will, and tell God that at any cost, they were willing to believe God? That they were willing to obey the truth God gave them?

The only way anyone can ever know if a teaching is true and of God is to is to first align with God’s will.

  1. The one who seeks the glory of the One Who sent him, this one is true and unrighteousness is not in him.” John 7:18 Because Jesus taught to the glory of God, and not himself, Jesus was also proven righteous.

This is an important point so hold onto it.

The religious authorities had accused Jesus of transgressing Moses’ Law because he had healed a man on the Sabbath. The reason why that was so important—why keeping Moses’ Law was so important—is because the benefits of God’s covenant with Israel hinged on keeping God’s commandments.

God’s Covenant

In Biblical language, a covenant is a promise of God made to one person, or made to a group of people. “Testament” in Greek means covenant, so early in church history, the scriptures began to be referred to as the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Language for this can be found in the book of Hebrews,

Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.

“’The days are surely coming,’ says the Lord,
    ‘when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah;
not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors.’”

[Quote taken from Jeremiah 31:31-34]

In speaking of “a new covenant,” [God] has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.

Excerpts from Hebrews 8:1-13 (NRSV)

[As an aside, many theologians, scholars, and commentators are moving towards referring to Genesis through Malachi as the Hebrew Bible and Matthew through Revelation as the Christian Bible. My tendency is to use similar language, though I prefer Christian Testament.]

Covenants are different from contracts, A contract is an agreement made between relatively equal parties, and either party is free to choose whether to sign the contract or not. A covenant is also an agreement, but it follows the pattern of ancient Near East treaties made between a conquering king and the conquered people.

Generally there were two types of covenants:

Conditional: Meaning the conquering king’s treatment of the people would depend upon their behavior. When God gave Moses the Law, the Lord promised to bless the people if they would keep God’s commands. Disobedience would bring increasingly heavy consequences.

And this gets to the very crux of the matter.

1 and 2 Maccabees offer a bracing, often heartbreaking, account of brutality leveled against Judeans by the Seleucids, and the brief time of Judean self-rule enjoyed between 167 to 37 BC.

A mere thirty years before Jesus was born.

The memories were still fresh, and many longed—passionately, fervently—for independence once again, to be the nation they had once been in the halcyon days of the Davidic dynasty.

And they were convinced God would not grant this blessing unless they would finally, finally be the people God called them to be, who observed all the Law, faithfully attended to all the sacrifices, rites, festivals, and holy days, who were a pure and purified people who truly would

“Put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead.

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,

so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NRSV)

The Jerusalem authorities were convinced that Jesus had broken the third of God’s ten commandments by not keeping the Sabbath holy. But Jesus’ life was perfect, there was no unrighteousness, no falsehood in him. Jesus had never broken even the smallest point of God’s law.

Jesus was the quintessential innocent man.

But Jesus challenged the crowd, and the religious leaders, that all of them had broken Moses’ Law and profoundly so, because they were seeking to kill Jesus, God incarnate.

How many commandments would be utterly violated by that?

Well, if we stick to the Ten Commandments, let us see.

1No other gods before GodRaise their religion above God
2No idolsWorship their own interpretation of scripture
3No misuse of God’s nameUse God as their authority to murder Jesus (God incarnate)
4Keep the SabbathUse the Sabbath against Jesus (God incarnate)
5Honor parentsDishonor God the Father
6No murderMurder Jesus
7No adulteryFaithlessness towards God
8No stealingSeek to steal the hearts and minds of the people away from Jesus
9No lyingMisrepresent God and God’s words
10No covetingActively jealous of Jesus’ success

The aching irony in all this was the evident sincerity of the Judeans in their defense of the Sabbath as they understood it, by their own interpretation, and their genuine passion to finally get it right after centuries of failure and loss.

That is really convicting.

[Ten Commandments | Jekuthiel Sofer / Public domain]

Broken, Searching, Trusted, Powerful

“It is a pleasure to endorse this series of Bible studies on thirty-two women of the Bible.

May God’s blessing be on each one who picks up the Bible and is led by the series of questions to ask themselves very similar questions so that we all may grow up in Christ Jesus.

Special thanks to Joanne Guarnieri Hagemeyer for a beautiful piece of work.”

—Walt Kaiser, former President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary 

I am starting a Bible study in the fall for first-come-first-served registrants!

We will meet starting Thursday, September 17, 2020, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Zoom, and will go to April 29, 2021.

We’re taking a six week break in the middle, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and another week break in the spring for Easter.

The course is filling up fast, and the host, Cindy Stambaugh, and I have agreed to limit this first group to 25 people in order to keep the conversation rich, robust, and yet warm and intimate as well.

Gospel of John: Personal Pressure

What are you like under pressure? You know that saying about life being hot water and you are the tea bag? Who you really are will come out under pressure. How often do you and I rationalize our bad behavior?

“I wouldn’t yell so much if it weren’t for these kids.”

“It’s because of all those demands at work, otherwise I’d smile a lot more.”

“How can I help myself from doing this thing, or acting that way, when I’m under so much pressure?”

In chapter 7, the pressure had mounted, yet how Jesus responded was dramatically different than how the religious authorities acted.

About six months had gone by between chapter 6 and chapter 7, in John’s gospel. The other gospels record how Jesus had stayed in Galilee during that time, and it was nearing one of the three feasts all Jewish men were expected to attend in Jerusalem.

  • Passover came in the spring.
  • Pentecost followed forty days later.
  • Feast of Booths, or tabernacles, took place in late September, early October.

The Feast of Booths lasted seven days, beginning with the Feast of lngathering, celebrating the harvest, which was considered a Sabbath, and symbolized God’s salvation to all people one day, when the Lord would gather in all nations to God.

This was the people’s favorite holiday, full of feasting, singing and enjoyment. Three-sided huts were constructed from tree branches on roof tops, in the parks and streets, everywhere, and everyone lived in these lean­-tos for the whole week, reminding them of their ancestors living in the desert during the Exodus.

The temple, white marble covered in gold sheets, would be lit up at night by a giant menorah, the Jewish candelabra, to signify God’s Shekinah in the pillar of fire and cloud that led the people through the desert.

Early every morning sacrifices were made while a priest with a golden pitcher led the whole city, singing the Hillel Psalms, 113 to 118. They would proceed down to the pool of Siloam to fill up from the water pouring out of the mountain rock, commemorating the time God provided Israel with water from the rock Moses struck. The priest would bring this pitcher, held high, back up to the temple mount with the people singing and dancing.

There, the priest would be met by another priest holding up a golden pitcher filled with new wine crushed from the grapes harvested in late summer, as a whole orchestra of instruments accompanied the people singing. Yet two more priests with silver trumpets would play in between each stanza of the Psalms.

Together, the two priests would pour both pitchers out by the altar.

At that moment all the people would cry out “Therefore with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation,” from Isaiah 12:3. It was understood the water represented both physical water from the rock that saved the Hebrews in the desert, and also the outpouring of God’s Spirit.

During this festival the whole of Moses’ Law would be read out loud to the people.

As a note to you and me,

  • Passover would be fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross.
  • Pentecost would be fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection.
  • But the trumpet call, the Feast of lngathering and the Feast of Booths has not yet been fulfilled!

We are still looking forward to that, when the Lord Jesus calls all of his own from among the nations, to be gathered up to him on the last day.

So, it is to this feast that Jesus’ brothers were pressuring him to attend, as chapter 7 opens, the exciting feast that everybody made a point of attending. They told Jesus if he really wanted to get his movement off the ground, he was going to have to ramp it up a notch!

Depart from here and lead on to Judea, for in order that your disciples may look on as you work these deeds, for no one who works in concealment then seeks to be bold and free in speech—if you perform these works, make yourself apparent to the world!

Jesus’ brothers, John 7:3-4

Listen, big brother, they all ribbed him, Galilee is the sticks, you need to go where the people are! You’ve gotta let your disciples see all this, keep them charged up.

If you want to be a public figure, you need to think about public relations. Advertise! Keep your name in front of people!

Keep up the miracles, that’s what people want to see, that’s what’s going to get you noticed.

Perhaps they meant well. They may have loved Jesus. But they did not believe Jesus was Messiah, God the Son

Even well-meaning people, friends and family, can put pressure on you and me to run ahead of God. Or maybe it is even an internal pressure, wanting to push a situation, pull strings, “make it happen,” impatient with God’s timing, not trusting God’s methods or God’s principles, not satisfied with God’s response to prayer.

This is when you and I remember how Jesus described himself as doing nothing but what the Father showed him.

Jesus made three points to his brothers:

  1. “My season, my proper time, is not yet at hand, though your own season and opportunity is always to hand.” (John 7:6)

The Greek word for time in this verse means “best opportunity.” Jesus reminded his brothers there was already a plan for his life in which timing was all-important. Since they did not believe, they did not seek God’s will for the direction in their own lives.

You and I cannot save time like we can save money. The best thing we can do is spend time wisely. The only other choice is to waste time. The balance is to be able to flex with God’s timing while at the same time making a plan for the day so that we are proactive about spending our time wisely.

Throughout the day we can ask the Lord, what next? What is the best time for this? How much time should I spend on this?

True discipline of time is not scheduling every moment.True discipline of time means always being ready to do what is the right next thing to do, to have room for the unexpected.

  1. “The world is not able to hate you. But it hates me, for I testify concerning its deeds as grievous, malicious, hurtful, and evil.”  (John 7:7)

The world” pertains to all those who do not love and know God, who do not follow God’s will. As the Light, Jesus exposed the darkness of the world, of those who did not live by the truth. The world hates to be exposed, (as you and I will see later in this chapter). But Jesus’ brothers were not light, they blended right in with other nonbelievers.

  1. To you, you all go up to the holy festival: I myself am not going up into this holy day, because my time has not yet been made complete.” (John 7:8)

Jesus meant he was not going to the festival under his brothers’ terms.

Jesus must have felt very alone at that point, feeling the stress of their pressure. How often do you and I feel alone, or under pressure, even in our own families? We feel pressured to keep the peace, give in for the sake of harmony, go against our better judgment. But Jesus, who is completely sympathetic with your situation, having gone through the very same thing himself, put his confidence in knowing the Father’s will for his life and following it.

He chose to speak the truth in love, instead.

I have heard speaking the truth in love described this way: You make a sandwich with two big slices of love, and you slip the meat of truth right in between them.

“Grandma, I love you and you are important to me. I would rather not have a piece of your famous fruit bread. But that does not mean I do not love you. I do, and appreciate you, too.”

In God’s plan for your life, timing is important

Think about it.

When you are throwing a surprise party, you do not jump out from behind the couch the day before and yell “Surprise!” Your timing would be totally off.

What pressure or advice do you need to resist because it is not coming from God?

And once you are confident in what the Lord has for you, then do not waver. The time has come, the time is now.

[Sukkoth | Ron Almog, flickr, (CC BY 2.0)]

Gospel of John: Belief or Abandonment

The synagogue—usually so airy, with crossways cannily appointed to encourage even the slightest waft of wind to breeze through the room—grew stuffy and sweltering as the men nervously fingered their blue tassels, their prayer shawls’ fringes, as they rubbed the coarse hairs of their beards between anxious fingers, muttering, shifting on the stone benches along the walls, furtively attempting to catch each others’ eye.

Jesus paused, letting his arms fall to his sides. His disciples, he knew, were just as agitated behind him, looking to the ground, studying their own sandals, hands held together in front of them. Few looked at Jesus anymore, hoping he would stop talking. That he would just . . . stop.

As his silence grew, and the unhappy hum in the room buzzed with increasing turmoil, Jesus lifted his hand. Unwillingly, yet strangely compelled, their voices dimmed. “Indeed,” he began, “Some of you all do not believe.” Many nodded vigorously, angrily, passionately, even saying yes, I do not.

For Jesus had known within himself from the very start who would not believe him, who would not put their faith in him. And he had always known who would betray him.

John felt the hair on his arms prickle and his eyes suddenly began to sting, as though the smoke of a fire had shifted. Somehow the room seemed dusky, there was an almost indiscernible haze making it hard to see and to breath. Unconsciously, he ran his fingers along the neck opening of his inner garment, then shook his outer garment. He looked over to Jesus, who was already looking at him.

John felt he could read in his rabbi’s face a knowing that darkness was settling within the room. A sobering spiritual truth was at work. When people obey the truth they know, then they will be taught more truth. But those who resist the truth will eventually lose their capacity to see and hear the truth anymore.

Jesus again turned to those gathered before him in the now still room. “Because of this,” and he slowly spread his arms out and looked around the entire room, indicating all that had transpired, “I told you all that not one is able to come to me if it had not been committed-granted-and-bestowed by the Father.”

Many glowered at Jesus’ words, faces clouded over and hardened, fingers curled into fists. They were so close to the truth! They had been following Jesus for two years. But ultimately, they would not accept all that Jesus had to teach them. The air thickened into an almost unbearable miasma, several raised their sleeves to their noses and mouths, as others’ lips formed into hard lines of rejection.  

It is possible to understand exactly what God is saying, yet not be moved by it, nor be willing to accept the truth of it. The room began to clear as one here, two there, silently rose to leave, turning their backs on the prophet and rabbi they had followed.

Until now.

And Jesus watched without a word.

At last, only the twelve and a few women remained, arrayed around him. Jesus looked at each one, his eyes full of love. Finally, he asked of his disciples, “And do you all not want to withdraw?” In their response, each man instead drew closer, leaning into the circle around their rabban. Simon Peter spoke for them when he said, “Sir, who can we go off to?”

As hard as this teaching was, as shocking as it was, as difficult as it was to receive it, to whom else would they go? Jesus was presenting an entirely new way of relating to God, and what he was proposing literally turned upside down everything they had ever believed or done. And yet,

“You have the words of eternal life.” Peter said, and everyone nodded. Peter worked his lips, not knowing really how to say the rest of what was burning in his chest. At last, he spoke in a hoarse voice, filled with tears, “And we believe,” he stopped for a moment, then added, “and know that you are the holy one of God.” His voice had become a whisper of awe.

Who else was God?

Who else had the truth?

Against every hard teaching, they kept asking themselves the same question: to Whom else would we want to go?

In the face of either receiving a hard truth because it comes from God, or rejecting a hard truth and therefore having to reject God, Peter spoke for himself and ten of his companion disciples when he said they would accept Jesus as a package deal. He did not realize it, but he was not speaking for all.

Jesus warmly pressed Peter’s shoulder in a gesture of love and friendship, then opened his gaze to take in each of the men before him, as he said, “Did I not choose you twelve?” Then his eyes rested at the end, on Judas. “Yet, out of you all, one is a false accuser, a slanderer.”

John would remember that day, that moment, over and over in the ensuing years. He would never again be able to speak of Judas without also reminding his audience of Judas’ betrayal, his violation of all that was good and lovely.

There were three kinds of disciples surrounding Jesus that day.

  1. The first group were the disciples who would follow Jesus for a while, but then leave him.
  2. The second group Peter spoke for, disciples who loved Jesus so much that even when he gave them a hard teaching, they would stick close to him.
  3. The third kind of disciple was Judas, someone who did not accept Jesus, but would not leave either. Jesus did not say his name, but he called Judas a devil, someone who was completely opposed to Jesus and would betray him with false accusation.

The amazing thing about Judas is that he was one of the chosen twelve. In Luke’s gospel Jesus spent all night praying, then specially selected Judas along with the others. Jesus loved Judas, taught him, gave him the same authority and privilege of all the rest of Jesus’ disciples.

When Jesus sent the other disciples out, he sent Judas out, too, with the same power to cast out demons and to heal the sick. Jesus even gave Judas the trusted position of treasurer, yet Judas brazenly pilfered from their common purse on a regular basis, inuring himself to the wrongness of stealing from his own rabbi, and fellow disciples.

Jesus gave even Judas every chance, but there was no faith in him. Even at that time, he was out for himself and subversive to Jesus’ mission.

The truth claims of Jesus must never be compromised

Jesus was not trying to be popular, he was not attempting to market himself well.

Jesus was laying it out like it is.

As much as it must have hurt him to see so many people turn away, it was more important to Jesus to have eleven disciples who really believed and were willing to trust him even in the hard things, rather than have a huge following of people who did not understand or believe the truth.

People do not grow spiritually unless they believe and operate on the truth.

What truths do you and I need to re-examine?

What truths have we conveniently underplayed, or tucked away, because to believe and live by them would be uncomfortable for us?

The first one that popped into your mind just now might be the Holy Spirit speaking deep into your spirit.

The first part of this post is my imagined setting of the scenes, as taken from John 6:60-71

[Judas Iscariot | José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior / Public domain]

Child of Wonder

For those who are experiencing grief and loss, this is a new recording by a friend of my mother’s, Robert Norman, described in his words.

“I’m writing to share something kind of exciting. I know I had talked about performing Eric Whitacre’s Sacred Veil both in its world premiere at Disney Hall and in the professional recording with Eric and the Master Chorale.

“Well, the first single was released last week, and it’s available on all streaming sites. I’m attaching the YouTube lyric video from Eric’s channel here if you want to listen to it with subtitled words.

Here’s the poetry from this movement

Child of wonder, child of sky,
Time to end your voyage, time to die.
Silent slumber calls you, dark and deep.
Child of soft surrender, child of sleep.

Child of sorrow, child of rain,
There is no tomorrow, no more pain.
Turn your silvered sail toward the light.
Child of morning, child of night.

Child of iridescence, child of dream,
Stars and moons will guide you down the stream.
Stretched on ocean waves of endless foam,
Welcome home my child, welcome home.

child of wonder – eric whitacre
Eric Whitacre’s Sacred Veil

“There will be a couple more single releases before the full album release on August 28. For reference Sacred Veil is a chronicle of Julie and Charles Anthony Silvestri’s life: love, pregnancy, parenthood, and Julie’s diagnosis and eventual death from cancer.

“Several of the movements are Julie’s own words, with additional text by Eric and Tony. This single ‘Child of Wonder’ is the final movement in the piece. It is a cathartic and emotional journey that offers closure for those who remain in the wake of death. “

Look at what love the Father has given to us, so that we may be called—and are—children of God. Because of this the world does not know us, for it did not know [Jesus].

Beloved ones, [right] now we are children of God and it has not yet been made visible who we will be. We know that whenever [Jesus] will be made visible we will be similar to [Jesus], for we will perceive [Jesus] just he is.

And each one having this expectation concerning [Jesus] consecrates themselves just as that One is consecrated.

1 John 3:1-3

Sail Towards the Light | Pikist.com

Psalm 73

Today’s Psalm was written by one of the four Levites King David had put in charge of the worship music.

As soon as the ark was brought back to Jerusalem, and replaced in the tabernacle, David wanted regular times of worship with a full orchestra and choir. Asaph was one of the Levites put in charge of the instruments. But, it turns out, he was truly gifted at song writing, too.  

In this Psalm, Asaph talked about his feelings about his own position in life, as a Levite, and the way he perceived some of the people he associated with in King David’s court. 

We need to read these song lyrics with feeling, and with imagery, to help us experience what Asaph was trying to convey. As we read through his lyrics, listen to what he’s hanging onto as true, but just doesn’t feel true in the moment. Listen to his impressions of what court life was like. 

Asaph could not understand how these people could be so bad and look so good, how God would grant them so many material blessings when they obviously were cheaters and crooks, master manipulators, arrogant, malicious, and contemptuous. 

Yet, they prospered.

He, on the other hand, was a Levite. He led worship every week, he devoted himself to the study of God’s word, keeping God’s law, and tending to God’s tabernacle. But, he was not prospering, at least not in terms of wealth and influence. The wicked had plenty to eat—more than enough. I wonder if Asaph felt hungry in comparison.

God met Asaph where he was, and opened his inner vision to a revelation he hadn’t quite grasped yet. On the outside, these rich and conceited courtiers seemed to have it all. But on the inside they were headed for ruin.

Grace and Peace, Joanne

Minor Prophets: Jonah in the Storm

Jonah is associated with the giant fish, a reluctant prophet of hope to the enemies of his people.

In chapter 1, Jonah’s mission is outlined, and his response is duly noted.

Unlike other prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible, this one is told entirely in the third person, as a story. The narrator begins with God’s instruction.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” 

God, to Jonah 1:1-2 (NRSV)

Prophets spoke only what they knew was God’s word because the penalty for prophesying falsely was death by stoning. Prophets knew how to discern without doubt the difference between God’s voice and word, and their own imaginings. Jonah was an honest-to-goodness prophet who had already become well-known through his prophesying in Israel. He knew without doubt the word of the Lord had come to him, and it was to go to Nineveh.

Yet, unlike any other recorded prophet who would have embraced the calling of God, the very next words wryly remark, “But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah knew he had received God’s word, but it was not at all to his liking.

And here we get to the nitty gritty of of what it means to understand God’s word.

Jonah hated the Assyrians.

During Jonah’s lifetime Israel was under regular threat of Assyria, an empire located to the north on the Tigris River. Hosea, Amos, and Elisha all prophesied that if Israel did not repent God would send Assyria as the Lord’s judgement to take them captive from the promised land.

Assyria was noted for ruthless battle tactics and horrifying treatment of their captives.

To avoid resistance, the Assyrian army intimidated their enemies by inflicting terrible suffering on the people they conquered. Only individuals with special skills and abilities were spared. The rest were put to death—often in unspeakably gruesome ways.

[The following is just a small portion of what the Assyrians did. If violence and cruelty are a trigger for you, please skip past this bracketed description until you see the legend “Safe to Read”]

Assyrian kings were proud of their cruelty and violence and had detailed pictorial accounts of their brutalities inscribed on clay tablets and their palace walls. After setting an entire city to blaze, all the grown men would have their hands, their feet, their ears, and noses severed, as well as their manhood. With their bare hands, Assyrian soldiers would tear out their victims’ tongues and gouge out their eyes. Then they would heap them in living piles and allow them to die from exposure to the sun, blood loss, and carrion eaters.

Babies and children would be burned alive.

For the king’s amusement, some captives—including the ruler of the conquered people—would be brought into Nineveh to chained, thrown to the ground and flayed, which is to say, having their skin cut skin into strips and pulled off of a living victim. Then the prisoners would be beheaded or impaled alive on a sharpened stake, allowing the victim to slowly slide down the stake and die.

A generation after Jonah, the prophet Nahum’s book was full of invective against the Assyrians,

Assyrian soldiers flaying Israelite defenders at Lachish | Chris Phillips, https://www.flickr.com/photos/alalsacienne/ flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Woe to Nineveh

Woe to the city of blood,
    full of lies,
full of plunder,
    never without victims!
The crack of whips,
    the clatter of wheels,
galloping horses
    and jolting chariots!
Charging cavalry,
    flashing swords
    and glittering spears!
Many casualties,
    piles of dead,
bodies without number,
    people stumbling over the corpses—
all because of the wanton lust of a prostitute,
    alluring, the mistress of sorceries,
who enslaved nations by her prostitution
    and peoples by her witchcraft.

Nahum 3:1-4 (NRSV)

[“Safe to Read”]

Is it any wonder that Jonah wanted to go in the opposite direction?

So Jonah did two things: he rebelled and then he rationalized in order to make his rebellion sit a little easier in his conscience. We do not find it out until well into the narrative,

O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.

Angry and displeased Jonah, to God in Jonah 4:2 (NRSV)

Jonah’s Route | Internet Archive Book IMage, flickr, (CC0) | Image from page 25 of “Hurlbut’s Life of Christ for young and old” (1915), My great great grandfather, Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

Jonah went “down” to Joppa.

Once at Joppa, a bustling international seaport in his day, perhaps in a gesture of great noblesse, Jonah purchased sea fare to Tarshish, the farthest point in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh.

And everything seemed to be going swimmingly!

It is possible Jonah began to interpret his plans going well as God’s tacit acceptance, if not approval, of Jonah’s plan to be a missionary, just to another foreign people.

Yet, the narrator portrayed Jonah as having gone “down” spiritually as well, not just away from the heart of God’s will, but “away from the presence of the Lord.” 

How often do you and I do this? 

We interpret favorable circumstances as God’s tacit approval for something our consciences have been bothering us about.

Notice how relieved Jonah was to get out of the conflict of God’s will—he promptly went below deck and fell asleep! 

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up.

Jonah 1:4 (NRSV)

There are spiritual laws as unchangeable as physical laws.

Gravity always works: what goes up must come down. The same is true of spiritual laws. Here are two that hold true:

  1. No path of disobedience is ever blessed and
  2. God will intervene in special ways to insure the accomplishment of God’s will.

The captain roused Jonah from his slumbers, aghast that he would sleep instead of pray for his life. Every other person on board had run to their god to plead for mercy and protection. Then it was discovered, through a series of casting lots, that Jonah was the reason for the supernatural fierceness of the storm.

Who are you?! They asked him, in horrified fascination, as a tumble of questions came spilling out of the ship’s crew.

Tell us why this calamity has come upon us?

What is your occupation?

Where do you come from?

What is your country?

And of what people are you?

Jonah’s frank confession showed surprising transparency. “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” It seems Jonah then grew ashamed, as he watched the seasoned sailors all around him draw back in even greater alarm.

What is it you have done? They cried out in dread.

For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.

Jonah 1:10 (NRSV)

In the narrative, the storm was raging all around them, their ship was heaving and yawing over every giant swell, the danger of cracking up and capsizing was very real. They would not survive, if that happened. Desperate to do anything necessary, the sailors begged the prophet to instruct them with whatever the God of heaven would have them do.

It must have cut Jonah to the quick, to see these rough sailors, completely ignorant of YHWH, yet utterly trusting in God’s sovereignty, power, and judgment. Their faith convicted him, making him painfully, acutely, conscious of his own rebellion.

The only thing to be done, he told them, is to pick me up and throw me into the sea.

 Catacomb of Saint Peter and Saint Marcellino, Rome, Italy, (4th century?), Public Domain

It seems like true repentance, does it not?

But the truth is, Jonah apparently would rather have died than turn back and sail for Joppa to begin his journey to Nineveh.

He was a prophet. He knew the truth, God was not asking Jonah to give his life to the sea in death. God was asking him to give his compassion to the enemies of his people.

And Jonah would not have it.

Yet through all this turmoil and cosmic conflict, God inspired belief and worship in the hearts of the sailors! They pleaded with God for God’s protection, for forgiveness in throwing Jonah into the sea, they feared the Lord and made both sacrifices and vows to the God of heaven.

The same storm that brought such distress to everyone on board was the very vehicle to their salvation.

[Storm at Sea | Rembrandt / Public domain]

Gospel of John: Life-Giving Feast

It is now that we find out, in verse 59, that all this exchange between Jesus and the religious teachers and leaders was taking place in Capernaum’s synagogue, where Jesus was teaching. He had delivered possibly the most offensive sermon ever given in his time, a message so viscerally horrifying, so unspeakably grotesque, that many must have been left actually speechless.

There really was no imagery that could have been worse than crunching and chewing—gnawing like a wild animal—on the flesh of a human being, then washing that all down with a great quaff of the person’s blood. My guess is, the sheer monstrousness was so repugnant, and the implications so massive, most everyone experienced the kind of numb blackout that happens with sensory overload, particularly trauma.

Even today, with our inurement to gore and horror due to overwhelming media, movies, games, and “mature audience” viewing we expose ourselves to, this teaching would have felt like treacherous betrayal from someone we had grown to love and trust.

Thus, many of his disciples who heard said, “Fierce-and-hard, rough-and-violent is this word [logos]: who is able to listen to it, to comprehend-or-attend to it?”

Jesus’ many followers, John 6:60

Their offense was not because the teaching was too difficult to understand.

They were offended because the Logos—both Jesus, and Jesus’ word, or teaching—was offensive to hear.

There were no words strong enough to describe the detestable abomination of being urged to crunch on Jesus’ flesh and gulp down his blood.

But even more so, they could not even bring themselves to put words to the allegorical implication of what Jesus was teaching.  

Their wants and desires were much more prosaic, much more external, much more traditional. They wanted

  • Miraculous manna.
  • The blessings of a powerful rabbi who could do miracles.
  • A conquering king, who would reclaim the Promised Land for God, and for God’s people.
  • The ushering in of the New World Order, the prophesied Glorious Kingdom the prophets of old had seen in their visions and comforted the exiled people with.

They did not want to be attached to someone who was edgy, fringy, who talked about dying for the world. Who resorted to such ugly and revolting metaphors. Who claimed to be God, the nourishment of the cosmos.

But Jesus, discerning-and-aware in himself that his disciples were muttering-and-grumbling about this, said to them, “This is offensive [for] you? [This hinders-right-conduct-or-thought, and causes-to-stumble?]

Therefore, what if you all behold the Son of Humanity[1] rising up to where he formerly was?

Jesus, John 61-62

This teaching, as hard as it was, was only just the beginning of hard things to come, the crucifixion, Jesus’ resurrection, and his departure from them, which would precipitate the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is who makes alive, the flesh does not benefit even one person, the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.

Jesus, John 63

Jesus explained to them that he was talking about spiritual matters. When he ascended into heaven, he would send his Spirit—God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ—to those who believed in Jesus and followed him. It would be Jesus’ Spirit that each believer would literally take into their own person, their inward being, and thereby they would be taking eternal life, God’s life, into themselves.

These were men and women who took their religion seriously, for they were here, in the synagogue, to worship God and to hear from one who spoke from God, who taught the scriptures, who had performed many, many miraculous signs pointing to heaven, and the great love and power of Almighty God.

And so, these who were listening to Jesus’ teaching would have been familiar with the Holy Spirit as described in the Hebrew Bible.

  1. They knew well the first lines of the first book of their scriptures, Genesis. Here the Spirit of God was God’s agent of creation, hovering over the void at the beginning of time and bringing the world into being at God’s word.
  1. They would have remembered the Spirit equipping the artisans to make the tabernacle and ark of the covenant, in the book of Exodus.
  1. The Spirit of God also equipped kings to rule and inspired prophets to speak the words of God.
  1. They knew from the Psalms the Spirit provided what believers needed to live a moral life, and the Spirit spoke often of a coming Messiah, prophecies they were so well-versed in that they knew were being fulfilled in the Jesus.

Today, we understand God the Holy Spirit as the third member of the Trinity, Who provides the way for all people to understand truth and come to know the way back to God, to be reconciled with God. The Spirit is called an ever‑present  Counselor, Advocate, Comforter, and Strengthener.

When Jesus would later tell his disciples he would have to leave them, he would have to go up into heaven, it would be in order to send them the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus called “One Who is another Me”—exactly the same in every way as Jesus himself.

The LUMO Project | http://www.freebibleimages.org

This is the true baptism of the Holy Spirit. By definition, this occurs only once, permanently and immediately altering a person from being mortal to immortal, and every spiritual blessing in heaven is given at once to that person. To this day, every believer receives the Holy Spirit when they believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ.

In fact, it is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that makes belief possible. And the Holy Spirit imparts to every believer Jesus’ own love, agape love, that will protect the unity and harmony of the church, what Jesus wants most for believers besides experiencing his glory.

Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would interpret Scripture, illuminate God’s word, witness to believers and through believers, would even give us the actual words to say about the gospel. One of the reasons the Christian Testament is so trusted, in fact, is because Jesus promised his original disciples his Spirit would cause them to remember everything Jesus had done and taught, whenever they needed it.

In Acts 1-2, when Jesus ascended into heaven, every believer received the Holy Spirit and was filled with a supernatural power, just as Jesus had predicted would happen.

Pentecost | Pixabay.com
  1. The Holy Spirit illuminates God’s word and empowers believers to do God’s will.
  1. The Spirit gives believers particular gifts, like teaching, preaching, giving, and serving, in order to build up the whole of the church.
  1. Believers discover that they can grieve the Spirit and even douse the Spirit’s flame, God’s Spirit will not leave such a person, but it will seem like the Spirit is gone if one chooses to refuse or resist the Spirit of Christ.
  1. So the New Testament also talks about a “filling” of the Holy Spirit, which may occur repeatedly, and is signified by God’s equipping to bear truthful, faithful witness to the Gospel, to witness about Jesus as the Savior. Every reference in the New Testament to a filling of a person, or a group, by the Holy Spirit is followed by a verbal testimony to Jesus.[2]

Jesus’ Logos, his person, works, and words, are Spirit and are Life.

[1] The traditional way to translate this phrase from the Greek “uion tou anthropou” is “Son of Man.” This is because “Man” connoted “humankind” for a few centuries in the English language. Interestingly, in Middle English, the female version of “man” was “wimman” or “wifman,” our modern-day “woman.” The male version of “man” was “werman.” This left the word “man” as truly neutral, referring to male and female alike as humans.

However, at some point the prefix “wer” fell away, so that “man” came to mean both male humans and humans in general.

Today, being more sensitive to the implications of using the male version of human as standing in for all humans, more and more people are making the intentional effort to use more accurate language when translating. In this case, “anthropos” in Greek is the neutral term denoting humankind (like “anthropology,” the study of people). If a male term is desired, the Greek uses “aner/andros.”

[2] Paul the apostle taught much on the person and work of the Holy Spirit; however, his circular to the assemblies in Ephesus is particularly rich, and most of what is written in this post comes from it.

[Cornucopia | Needpix.com]

Gospel of John: Flesh and Blood

At the close of yesterday’s passage, Jesus made a statement that left the people aghast and appalled, saying “So then, the bread that I give is also my flesh on behalf of the life of the world.” He was continuing to employ the theme of manna. Eating, in this illustration, was a metaphor for assimilation into one’s life.

Jesus was also prophesying of giving his life for the life of the world, and his later gift of the Holy Spirit.

There is no question the people were shocked by Jesus’ words, and

Therefore they were quarreling-and-disputing among each other, the Judeans were saying, “How is this one able to give us his flesh to eat?!”

John 6:52

It is always possible some of the religious leaders thought Jesus might have been talking literally about eating his flesh.

But, this was actually typical for Jewish rabbis to use metaphors and allegories, so most likely these other scribes and teachers were upset that Jesus had so elevated himself as to say that he was himself not only God but the very sustenance of life for the world.

That meant this erstwhile blue-collar laborer in the construction business, not even seminary trained, was elevating himself above not only them, but the greatest prophets, above even King David, Moses, and all the heroes of their faith.

He was raising himself to the place of God.

Talk about a Messiah complex!

[Now, hit the pause button for a minute. Time out! What are you and I tempted to do when we can tell something we just said is causing a problem? We try to figure out how to soften it somehow. “Well, what I meant was . . . “ “All I am trying to say is . . . “ But that was not Jesus’ method.]

Jesus went straight for what was the hardest part of the teaching for them, and drove it home even harder.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, if you all do not eat the flesh of the Son of Humanity*, nor drink of him the blood, you all do not have life in yourselves.

“The one who crunches-and-gnaws on my flesh and drinks of me the blood has life eternal, and I also will raise that one up, the last day.

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

Jesus, to the religious authorities, in John 6:53-55

Eating blood was the biggest taboo they had, it was considered filthy and disgusting.

But the reason why is very important.

God had explained, when giving the food laws to God’s people, “the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.” Keeping that in mind, now listen to what Jesus said next.

“The one who crunches-and-gnaws on my flesh and drinks of me the blood, in me abides-and-continues, even so I likewise in that one.”

Jesus, in John 6:56

Jesus would fulfill all the Law in himself and usher in the new covenant where

“Even as the living Father sent me, even so I also live because of the Father, then also the one who crunches-and-gnaws on me will also live because of me.

Jesus, in John 6:57

Those who “eat of Christ” would receive the life with the meat and live.

We live in the same way Jesus lived, depending on the God, always having the strength we need for every situation.                                         

Consider that this was the time of the Passover.

God had given careful instructions to Moses that a lamb without blemish was to be sacrificed and its blood painted on the door posts of every Hebrew family’s home, as a sign to God that blood had already been shed for this household. God was willing to pass over judgment of sin on that house and move on.

Every home held death that night—either by God’s judgement or by atonement.

Agnus_Dei_(The_Lamb_of_God),by_Francisco_de_Zurbaran,_c._1635-1640San_Diego_Museum_of_Art-_DSC06627 | Public Domain

John the Baptist’s words should have been ringing in their ears, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Jesus was God’s perfect lamb, who bore sin’s penalty for us when he died in our place on the cross, and his death on the cross made atonement for the sin of the world, enough for all who repent and believe in him.

The sole purpose of the lamb was to provide Passover cover and nourishment for the journey into a new life.

Those of Jewish faith and descent were also familiar with the metaphor of eating God’s word from the prophet Ezekiel. We even use that metaphor today, “swallowing a lie,” “devouring a book,” “being hungry for information.”

This was how Jesus intended his meaning to be understood:

To eat his fleshIs to take Jesus’ perfect life into our own life, faith for salvation, then the progressive eating and growing daily by applying Jesus’ words, depending upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom and enabling.

The Bread of Life has come down from heaven to nourish us every day, to give us strength and power to live freely for him, and to meet death with courage and peace.

D.L. Moody once said “One day you’ll read that D.L. Moody is dead. Don’t you believe it!  I’ll be more alive on that day than I have ever been before!” We can be secure in the knowledge that if we eat this bread, we will live forever, and Jesus will raise us up on the last day.

To drink his bloodIs to participate personally in the Lord’s death, accepting that Jesus’ death is sufficient to cause judgment to pass by, and then to rise up again with Jesus in his resurrection, receiving eternal life with his blood.

Jesus’ death is our life.

As Paul once put it, Jesus washes away the stain of what we once were. Now that we are joined with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, you and I are free to be who God created us to be.

Jesus concluded,

This is the bread that has come down out of heaven—not as the forefathers ate and diedthe one who crunches-and-gnaws on this bread will live into eternity.”

Jesus, in John 6:58

Jesus must have continued to use his hands to help them all understand what he was teaching them. Think of him consistently pointing to himself as the bread, perhaps sometimes waving his fingers out from his mouth to help them understand Jesus as both the word, and the giver of life-giving words.

This is the life-transforming union that happens when a person takes in the Lord Jesus in faith. This is better than manna, profoundly better than anything the Judeans had ever imagined. Jesus was sharing his life and his fellowship in the most intimate form of communion possible. It is a relationship more mysterious, more exalted, more beautiful than any human relationship ever known.

Jesus is the source of eternal life and true satisfaction

All of us have what is called “the urge to merge.”

Think about it.

In marriage a husband and wife literally merge their bodies together in sexual union, a special kind of merging that they share with no one else. Intimate, deeply personal, and often the fruit of that merging is a new person, born of their two bodies.

Think of your closest friendships. You share your secrets, your hopes and fears, your deep insights and most intimate thoughts, merging emotionally with each other, often even able to say what the other person is thinking.

So it is spiritually, all of us have a longing to be made one with God, whether we recognize it for what it is, or not. We have the “urge to merge” with God.

That spiritual longing can only be satisfied by the Lord Jesus Christ. As you and I daily take in Christ, may we take time to chew and digest, then use the energy God gives us to spiritually grow and mature.

* The traditional way to translate this phrase from the Greek “uion tou anthropou” is “Son of Man.” This is because “Man” connoted “humankind” for a few centuries in the English language. Interestingly, in Middle English, the female version of “man” was “wimman” or “wifman,” our modern-day “woman.” The male version of “man” was “werman.” This left the word “man” as truly neutral, referring to male and female alike as humans.

However, at some point the prefix “wer” fell away, so that “man” came to mean both male humans and humans in general.

Today, being more sensitive to the implications of using the male version of human as standing in for all humans, more and more people are making the intentional effort to use more accurate language when translating. In this case, “anthropos” in Greek is the neutral term denoting humankind (like “anthropology,” the study of people). If a male term is desired, the Greek uses “aner/andros.”

[Depiction of the Last SUpper | The LUMO Project, http://www.freebibleimages.org]

Gospel of John: Bread of Life

Today’s passage opens up in the middle of what was becoming a very unsettling interaction between Jesus and the crowd which had followed Jesus after he fed them on the hill the day before.

Jesus had just finished claiming to be from heaven and that he was equal with God. He had identified himself as the source and giver of life, and the One Who satisfies the longings of people’s hearts. Jesus had claimed the Father drew people to him, and Jesus received all those whom the Father had given him. Many people began to argue with Jesus and take issue with him. These were not the sort of claims they were expecting from the Messiah. But Jesus was not backing down or changing course.

It seems, according to verse 59, time had transpired and a new conversation begun, or Jesus and the crowd around him had been heading towards Capernaum’s house of worship, because by verse 59 John explained this was all taking place in the synagogue.

Bread of Life

At this point, Jesus was surrounded by the people who had followed him from the other side of the lake, as well as his disciples and the local scribes and Pharisees. It was this last group of men who became contentious.

Consequently, the Judeans were grumbling-and-muttering about him that said, “I AM the bread that came down out of heaven.”

And they were saying, “Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How now he says that ‘Out of heaven I have come’”?!

John 6:41-42

They understood what Jesus was saying, but they could not see how Jesus could claim it. They knew his parents, they knew the house he grew up in, maybe some of them had even had Joseph the carpenter do some work for them. When was the last time you had a workman over to your house? This is who Jesus was to them.

Jesus basically said, “Stop arguing about that, because that is not why you are having a hard time believing me.” Jesus did not explain about the virgin birth, or the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, or being born in Bethlehem as prophesied, or the confirmation of the magi, the shepherds and the angels. There is so much Jesus could have added to the conversation, facts that could have really nailed his divine origin.

But he did not do that.

Because that was not the real problem.

These religious leaders already had enough facts for belief. They already had plenty of data that had been proven beyond any reasonable doubt. What they lacked was a foundation for that belief to be built upon.

Not even one is able to come to me unless the Father, the One Who sent me, drew that one; so also I will raise that one up on the last day.

John 6:44

God the Father draws hearts to come in response to God’s Son.

If the people who were grumbling had already been in a right relationship with the one true God, Yahweh, Whom they professed to worship, the God of the scriptures, then they would have yielded to God’s drawing power at work within them.

Unbelief is basically a spiritual issue, not an intellectual issue. As you and I study the Bible, we come across all kinds of hard sayings, difficult teachings, unfamiliar and even uncomfortable perspectives, principles, and depictions of faith. All the while, as we wrestle with these passages, and seek to live out their truths as best we can, God is conforming our character to be holy and righteous, as God is.

We grow closer to God, we grow spiritually deeper, we learn to love better.

That is what the Bible calls sanctification, and that is what “being in God’s word”  is all about—being both in scripture, and in Jesus. As a rule, you and I do not need more facts, we need a deeper faith.

Jesus added,

“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And all will be taught by God.’”

Jesus, quoting Isaiah in John 6:45

The Lord directly and personally teaches those who respond to God’s drawing to faith in Jesus. These Judeans had not harkened to what God had already taught in scripture.

Everyone who has heard from the Father and learned, comes to me.

Jesus, explaining the quote from Isaiah in John 6:45

The Pharisees and scribes considered themselves Bible experts, but they were resistant to certain spiritual truths in God’s word, and to the Holy Spirit.*

Jesus explained

“Because no one has visited-beheld-experienced-perceived-discerned-nor-known the Father if not the one from God, this one has visited-beheld-experienced-perceived-discerned-and-known the Father

Jesus, in John 6:46

Only Jesus can give direct revelation from God because he is God, God the Son, of the same essence of God. Jesus had taken on a body, but that did not change his nature of being God. Therefore, Jesus is the source of eternal life.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, the one who believes has life eternal.

“I AM the Bread of Life.”

Jesus, in John 6:47-48

To believe in Jesus is to possess eternal life immediately.

The illustration Jesus referred to had already been brought up, and the corollary to the miraculous feast Jesus had served the day before was unmistakable.

The manna in the desert.

These Bible scholars were missing the most significant, the most powerful and spiritual aspect of all: the manna foreshadowed Jesus.

“Your ancestors in the wilderness ate the manna then died—this is the bread that came down out of heaven in order that any may eat of it and not die—I AM the Bread of Life that came down out of heaven: whoever eats of this bread lives into eternity.”

Jesus, in John 6:49-51

Imagine Jesus speaking with great energy and persuasion. He may even have had the scroll out that contained the story of the manna. Picture Jesus pointing to the story (Your ancestors . . .” then gesturing towards the direction of Capernaum’s cemetery, “. . . then died.”

Then pointing to himself as he again described himself as the Bread of Life. Perhaps Jesus also raised his hands to heaven, and back to himself.

Eating the manna had kept their ancestors alive from day to day, it was everything they needed, a miraculous food that God rained down from heaven six days a week. It was a flaky, sweet substance that tasted something like coriander, and it had all the nutrients in it the body needs. All the Israelites had to do was go out and pick it up.

Forty years, that is how long they were fed from heaven.

That is a long time.

But it still had an end date on it.

Everyone eventually died.

The manna did not have the power to extend life indefinitely. And God did not continue to send the manna once they were settled in the Promised land.

Jesus, on the other hand, has all you and I need, forever.


Eating, in this illustration, is a metaphor for assimilation into one’s life.

And this is how Jesus explained it.

“So then, the bread that I give is also my flesh on behalf of the life of the world”

Jesus, in John 6: 51

At first read, this is a shocking, gruesome thing to say, transgressing deep taboos.

Yet, a deeper look reveals embedded in Jesus’ saying, the prophecy of his giving of his life for the life of the world, and the prophecy of his later gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave his life so we may have eternal life

How do you and I respond to those things in the Bible which, at first read, are hard to swallow? Most of the people who first heard this teaching utterly rejected it.

*The deacon Stephen made this astonishing claim in Acts 7:51, accusing the scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the law, and members of the Sanhedrin that they did not obey the scriptures, they resisted the Holy Spirit, and their legacy was the murder of every one of God’s prophets.

[Bread of Life | Needpix.com]

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