Mirror Mirror – Let it Glow
Thanksgiving has really become an interesting holiday in our overabundance culture hasn’t it?
The first thanksgiving was a hard-won harvest. It was praying and toiling just to hope things would be okay. It was a life or death situation kind of worry that when it turned out to be an abundant harvest, was met with an overwhelming gratitude celebrated in a three-day feast and party.
Let’s just admit together it is hard to be overwhelmingly thankful and praise God for food that is always there. I have quite the opposite feeling about food, in fact, as I overindulge on the abundance and it turns on me making me plumper than I would wish.
And honestly, I pray that we may never know the kind of thankfulness for food that comes only after a constant shortage and worry of not having enough brings. It is not a bad thing to live in the land of abundance. We can still be grateful for the fact that we do live in such a place, even as we recognize that we cannot understand the type of gratitude abundance brings for those who do not always have it.
However, one thing we should be overwhelmingly grateful for, is the fact that we get to see firsthand that contentment does not come from an abundance of food, or water, or any material thing. If that were so, then we should be the most contented people on earth. We all know that we are not. I believe this reality may make our key scripture easier to grasp. The people who were fed in the miracle Jesus performed to feed the five thousand wanted an easy meal, partly because food was hard earned in this time and region. They wanted Jesus to be king of the land so they could get easy meals, not because He was the Son of God who could could give life to their souls.
Jesus scolds the people that they were simply looking for a free meal and missed the significance of His feeding the multitudes (John 6:26). He tells them the true way to a whole and abundant life through the rest of His teaching. He uses the same building format that we learned about last week, but in a different who, what, how format.
First, He starts with the overarching truth in the form of urging the listeners to stop chasing after perishable things like food, and instead look for eternal life.
He tells them who the bread of life is. They compare Him to the miracle of the daily manna and give Moses the credit for the Manna and Jesus corrected them that it was His father who gives them the true bread (John 6:32). Then He tells them that the true bread that gives life is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world (6:33). They ask for this bread, and then He states “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
They grumble about this and then He repeats himself, with a truth statement. These truth statements are important. Jesus used these words to get across truths that were counter cultural or wrong beliefs to His listeners. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…(John 6:51). This is an important repeat on the who. Also notice here that this is not God on the who, but specifically the Son of Man who came down from heaven. Remember this piece. It is important later.
After He explains the who, He moves directly into what this bread is. He states the bread used for eternal life is His flesh which He will give to the world. They get in a perplexed frenzy over this, because they are still thinking of physical bread and physical eating. Jesus, of course, is speaking metaphorically. In verse 52, there is another truth statement that repeats what the bread of life is, but with the negative consequence instead of the positive.
After this Jesus moves into how the bread, His flesh gives life when it is eaten. And then the best part of this teaching unfolds. His disciples, admit to Him that it was a hard teaching for them to grasp. They were missing the metaphor too, and so Jesus opens their eyes to it “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
This is the key. Jesus states that a real life, a fulfilled life is when one is filled with the Spirit, rather than the desires of the flesh. And we need to understand that we have these competing spirits in us at war with each other (gal 5:17). But, by the power of Jesus’s blood, we can walk by the Spirit instead of the flesh. This is why it is so important that the bread of life is the Son of Man. It is by His blood that we are cleansed and can have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
The feeling of discontentment should tell us that we are running in the flesh again and need a good sized helping of the Spirit. So, where do we get this spiritual food? Jesus answered this question in the last sentence – “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life”.
The truth is that perishable things can never satisfy. A full, whole and satisfying life are learning the ways of God through His Word and then following them.
I can attest to this truth with these Bible studies. When I dig in to Gods word and find these amazing truths, I feel overwhelmingly grateful to the Son who came to die for me so that I would not have to endure the brokenness of my flesh alone and for eternity. And I am overwhelmingly grateful for the Father who loves me as I am with all my failures.
When I read the the amazing words penned in the Bible, my spirit is much like pilgrims when they saw the bounty of their first harvest. I know that this bounty is because of the amazing grace of God and it deserves a party where abundance is shared and gratefulness abounds.
Father, you are so good to us. Through your grace your provide us a spiritual abundance that we do not deserve. Help us to run to this abundance when our souls feel discontent. We know that there is no contentment in material things. Only you have the bread of life that can truly fill us up. Thank you Lord for loving us so much. In Jesus name. Amen.