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Saturday, April 27, 2019

4-27-2019        Following Jesus

John 6:44-66 (paraphrased)(… means that not all the passage is cited here)

None come to the Father except by Me and then only should the father draw him and it is he whom I will raise upon that last day.  … I am the bread of life.  No one has seen the Father except He who is of God. … He who believes on Me has everlasting life.  I am the bread of life. …  I am the living bread and he who eats this bread will live forever. …  The people wondered how they could eat His flesh.  Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. …  He who does so dwells in Me and I in him. … I live by the Father and you shall live by Me.    The Spirit quickens, the flesh profits nothing.  My Words are Spirit and they are life. … After this, many disciples no longer walked after Him.

Jesus had just fed the 5000, walked on the water with Peter and had arrived at Capernaum.  Realizing that He was no longer in their area, the people also crossed over Galilee to Capernaum looking for Him and that’s when Jesus shared these words. Words leading up to His entry into Jerusalem and eventual crucifixion (during 3rd year of ministry).

Jesus had already built the reputation of doing wonders and performing miracles and yet the people asked for a sign (John 6:30).  Was it because they wanted to truly believe that Jesus was the Messiah or was it because they wanted to be able to do the same things (John 6:28)? Getting the oohs and the aahs as they wowed the people.  You decide.  Jesus’ response was (of course) that the works He did were not His own, but the works of God (John 6:29).  (a hint for us)

Jesus is called Emmanuel.  Bear in mind that Emmanuel is interpreted “God with us (Matt. 1:23).  Don’t forget that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). 

In the beginning was God (Gen. 1:1).  Period, end of discussion.  There was nothing but emptiness, without form, then God said.  God said …!  He spoke Words, “Let there be …”. God ‘said’ and everything took form and then He called it something.  “Let there be light” … and He called the light ‘day’ and the darkness (light’s opposite) ‘night’.  God spoke ‘words’ to create all things therefore all thing are created through His Word, THE WORD, Jesus (Col. 1:16-17).  And Father made that Word flesh, in Jesus (John 1:1-14).  As Father created, His breath carried His Words across the waters.  How do people hear what we speak?  Our breath carries our words from our mouths to the ear of the hearer.  God spoke and His Spirit (breath) carried those words into action as it moved across the waters (Gen. 1:2).  The Hebrew word translated as “spirit” in Genesis chapter one is ruwach (7307) which implies the powerful expelling of breath.  God’s breath carried His Word into action as He was creating everything.

It pleased the Father that the fullness of the Godhead dwell bodily in Jesus (Col. 1:19, 2:9) so Jesus, Emanuel, was all that God is as He walked with His disciples.

Being our example of how we should speak and live, Jesus has become the ‘head of the body’ (Col. 1:27), everything which we should imitate.  We (believers) are His body, fitly joined together, for a purpose (1 Corinth. 12:11-31), His purpose.   

Our purpose is not to seek after the signs and miracles (which Jesus did) so we can glory in what we do, but rather to seek Jesus and allow the Holy Ghost to work signs and wonders through us to draw others into the body of Christ. (we have not because we ask amiss – James 4:2-3).
Jesus said that His body is bread, food indeed, and that we should eat His body.  Did those early followers think Jesus was telling them to actually eat His physical body?  To become cannibals?  His body is bread and bread sustains the natural body.  We need food to live.  Don’t we?  How long do we live without eating?  According to the Scientific American, 21 days is considered the most, however hunger strikers have been documented as surviving as many as 40 days.  Less documented accounts report a man, during the Irish protests of 1981, lasting as long as 73 days.  We need food to survive!  
So how is Jesus’ body our food? 

Obviously, we can’t literally eat His body, even today, but Jesus IS the Word of God (made flesh).  For us today, God’s Word is presented to us through the bible.  So what then?  Do we literally eat God’s word, the bible?  Tearing out and eating it page by page?  I don’t know about you, I like fiber, but not in the form of paper.  We devour God’s word by ‘reading’ the bible.  Not just looking at or even memorizing the words on those pages, but meditating on those words, thinking about what we’re reading.  Maybe even asking the Holy Spirit to reveal what we need to know from the passage that we’re reading (duh?  What an idea?).  This is what Father meant when He said “I will write My words upon their hearts (Jer. 31:33, Heb. 10:16).  We come to know God’s Word so well that it becomes a living part of our lives so we can truly understand His love and live in it – here in this world!

Jesus also told us to drink His blood for it is life. The bible tells us not to eat the blood for it is life (Deut. 12:23).  Yet Jesus says to drink His blood because it IS life!  So how can we drink Jesus’ blood? 

The body is our natural being and blood supplies nutrients to our body, throughout, through vessels, veins, capillaries, etc.  if we have no blood, we have no life.  Nothing in our body works without it.  Jesus tells us that He is the resurrection and life (John 11:25).  Our life is in Him!  He gives us true life when we receive Him into our hearts.  We become “living” beings finding and living in our God-created purpose (Jer. 1:5).  In the fact that we share God’s Word with others, we become prophets.  Maybe not in the sense we normally think, like Isaiah & Jeremiah and others since them but in the fact that we speak God’s words – share the scriptures with others.  Our purpose is to at least share His Word with others that they have an opportunity to enter into eternal fellowship with God.  But Father also calls us to a specific task that only we, as individuals, can perform as Father desires. 

I always thought it interesting that when Jesus appeared to His disciples, after the resurrection, He assured them that it was indeed He “… Handle Me, a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bone as I do …” (Luke 24:37-43).  Stop and think for a second, here.  Jesus said “flesh and bone”.  What do we normally say?  “Look at me, I’m flesh and blood”.  Right?  Jesus was operating under a new life source.  Blood is temporal, the source of our mortality.  Mortality must put on immortality.  Therefore flesh and blood cannot inherit eternal life (1 Corinth. 15:50-54).  We must be changed!  Jesus is not only our “light” but He is also our “Life” (John 1:1-4). 

Jesus was physically present with His disciples 2000 years ago giving them life.  He fed them, taught them and empowered them and He comforted them through His physical presence with them.  He told them that He soon would be gone but He would give them ‘another comforter’, the Holy Ghost, who would dwell within us (John 14:16-20).  And He did (Acts 2:1-4)!  The fullness of the Holy Ghost was in Jesus and Jesus walked with His disciples giving them the authority to do things (Matt. 10:5-8).  But after the ascension of Jesus, the disciples were enhanced, ‘baptized’, with the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:5-8, 2:1-4) to add power to that authority.

We live in life from Jesus as we yield ourselves over to Him which we do through the presence and help of the Holy Ghost in our lives.  So we can walk as He intended! 

Though blood still courses through our veins, in salvation (our giving our hearts over to God by accepting Jesus into our lives) Jesus becomes our new ‘life source’.  We’re still in this fleshly body nurtured by blood, but we also have a co-existing life source dwelling within us, quickening our spirits.  A new life source which is preparing our bodies for eternity so, when the time comes, we can experience that “change” Paul tells the Corinthians about (and us) (1 Corinth. 15:50-53).  When we ‘switch over’ to living in that new, eternal life source (Jesus) for eternity. 

We drink the blood of Jesus by living in the will of God (the Father) just as Jesus did and then by applying that will into our lives.    Jesus was flesh and blood, just like us, but after His resurrection, He was operating in a new life source.  An eternal life source in Father.  And we have a taste of that life source through the Holy Ghost living within our heart while we are still here on earth, in this life.
So, we CAN eat the body of Christ by reading, learning and coming to know (in our hearts) the written word of God, the bible which reveals the living word, Jesus.  We come to know it like we know our own name because it becomes a part of us.  We CAN drink His blood by understanding and applying what we learn about God’s will for our lives.  Application means that we know it so well, it becomes automatic in our lives like getting up in the morning and getting dressed, eating, or whatever else we normally do.  That is living in His will as a normal part of our lives.  

A lot of Jesus’ disciples quit following Him because of two reasons.  Some thought that Jesus was actually asking them to go against scripture and literally become cannibals (Deut. 12:23), even though they didn’t understand how.  But I think, even more realized the depth of commitment Jesus was asking of them – to give their lives to Him lock, stock and barrel.  And they balked at that.  Maybe they just weren’t willing to give up what they had in this world.  Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of earth if He would bow down and worship him but Jesus spoke the Word of God back to him, that we should only worship God (Matt. 4:10).  The kingdoms of the world already belonged to Jesus (God created everything) and He gave us the earth (Gen. 1:26-31).  But we gave it over to Satan, in the fall (Gen. 3:17-20). 

However, Jesus was asking the people to commit to God’s law, the law of living in His love and expressing that love towards others so they might see the love of God in operation.  Being living witnesses of God’s love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness faith, meekness and temperance.  Qualities which no law can legislate for they come from the heart (Gal. 5:23),  Then allowing that law to live, thrive within our hearts.  We lost the earth through disobedience, but we can regain it through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, this hasn’t been about communion (the body and blood of Jesus) but, when we take communion, this is what we are professing  - willingness to live in God’s law of love expressing our unity with and in Jesus Christ.  In that unity, we have not just the hope, but the promise of fellowship with that Father, through Jesus Christ, now and throughout all eternity.

Hmmm.  On second thought, maybe this has been about communion.  Communion with our living God.


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