John 7:1. “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him.”
“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,” (John 1:11).
Jesus did not leave Judea because He was afraid. He left because there was much more for Him to accomplish. It was not the Father’s time for Jesus to lay down His life.
It helps me to look at simple maps in the time of Christ, to get it straight in my mind exactly where His travels took Him. He covered a lot of ground in the three years of His public ministry, reaching as many people as possible.
But weren’t there Jews in Galilee? Yes, of course. Remember that Jesus’ confrontation with the Jewish leaders was in the synagogue in Capernaum, in Galilee. The difference is that they were geographically removed from the influence of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, who rarely bothered themselves to travel to the small towns of Galilee. The people were, therefore, more approachable and open to what Jesus had to offer. And it was His home territory, where His family lived, where He had grown up and worked with Joseph. Even though some of the people there thought He was “beside Himself,” out of His mind, they held no ill will toward Him. It’s true that He was born in Bethlehem, a short day’s walk from Jerusalem, but He didn’t stay there long when the warning came to Joseph in a dream that Herod was going to destroy Jesus if he could find Him.
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a little no-account village that was a good hiding place for Him. In John 1:46, Nathanael and Philip were talking about Jesus, and Nathanael asked, “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” His question reflected the attitude of most people of that time. Nazareth was considered a good place to be (away) from.
I gave myself a two-day break from blogging–did no posts on Friday or Saturday. Felt good, but it also feels good to resume my routine. Nothing serious today, though. Just a few glimpses into what has become normal.
I had a dr. appointment on Thursday. I’d been told ahead of time that I would not be allowed into the office without a mask, scarf, or maybe a brown paper bag over my head. I thought someone may be offended by the bag, which I was sorely tempted to do anyway, but I chose a black scarf instead. I’m thinking I’ll switch to red or yellow next time. I got startled, cautious looks from just about everyone. It never occurred to me that black would be perceived as threatening.
Which reminded me when, in my teaching days, we were told that red pens were no longer to be used for correcting papers. Too intimidating. Red was associated with “wrong, bad, stupid” or some such thing. We were to switch to green, a kinder, gentler color. I wonder how long it will be before green will get the same bad rap as red, and teachers will be told to use yellow or pink so their students’ psyches won’t be damaged.
Anyway, next stop was a quick one at the Walmart. Again, my black scarf got some startled attention. Also, I was using one of those electric carts. People gave me a wide berth. So funny. I’m old, very short, and somewhat infirm. Scary!
It was in the parking lot that I got a scare. I had just backed out of my spot and was hardly gathering speed when someone came toward my passenger side at a very high speed. I stopped, she slammed on her brakes and squealed to a stop. She made an unpleasant gesture, and her passenger got out, shaking a fist, and came stalking toward me. Huh. I was in the proper lane, just barely moving. She was shooting across all lanes, making no effort to do so at a reasonable speed. I was SO tempted to have my (ungodly) say, but my mother didn’t raise any stupid children. I left the scene, hoping they wouldn’t decide to follow me. Honestly. Why do the ones who are breaking all the rules get so MAD at the rest of us? How DARE we be in their way!
Changing the subject. I got a phone call from a Phoenix, AZ area code, so I answered it. My sister lives there, and my husband’s sister recently died after living there for over 40 years. The person on the other end asked to speak to my deceased sister-in-law. I asked politely for his name. He hung up.
Why do people think it’s okay for them to refuse to identify themselves over the phone? I never give any information to anyone I don’t know, or who refuses to say who they are. If you call me, please tell me who you are and why you’re calling. It’s the polite thing to do.
This “shelter in place” thing has not been a hardship for Terry or me. We’re busy enough, and we both do a shopping run when the need arises. We have a nice yard, in an older development in which the houses are spaced widely apart. We can be outdoors if we want to, My dogwood trees have tight little buds, getting ready to open up if it ever gets warm and stays warm. April has been blustery and cold this year. A particular delight to me is the weeping willow down at the end of the back yard. Terry planted it about three years ago, and it’s thriving. I’ve always loved weeping willows, but Terry’s not a fan. He says the roots are drawn to water, and can really mess up your septic or plumbing. This one, though, is planted far enough away that thirsty roots are not a problem. I love the gentle sweep of the branches, and the green right now is that tender spring green that is cool and gentle. We were afraid that the night-marauding deer would get to it before it could become established, but it survived its childhood and seems to be well-established now.
My tree isn’t as mature and full as this one. Maybe in a year or two. Isn’t it pretty?
Okay, we’re going to tune in to our online church service in a few minutes. Our pastors and several members are doing a great job of staying in touch with all of us during the social distancing epidemic. It’s not as good as being there, but it’s the next-best thing. A blessed Lord’s Day to all of you, and I’ll be resuming my study in the Gospel of John tomorrow, starting Chapter 7.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve.
After Peter’s strong affirmation, “We believe and are sure that Thou art The Christ, the Son of the Living God!” it must have come as a shock to the disciples to hear the next thing Jesus said.
“Haven’t I chosen you twelve? And yet, even among you, there is a devil!” Of course we know that He was speaking of Judas Iscariot, who would betray Him for 30 pieces of silver. The price of a slave.
Even among the twelve, there was one who would fall away and fail to follow Jesus, one whose life would end in tragedy and infamy down through the centuries.
And so ends this amazing chapter, in which we see miracles; the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus walking on the water. And we hear Jesus proclaim clearly and publicly that He is indeed the Bread of Life; that His Words are the words of life; that He is the Living Bread, come down from heaven to provide salvation for all mankind who would simply believe on Him. What amazing and important events in the span of just a couple of days!
I think I’m going to give myself a break before starting chapter 7 on Monday. I will do my usual Sunday Morning Coffee post on Sunday, but tomorrow and Saturday, if I post anything, it will be light-hearted and relaxed. We need a little lightheartedness right now, don’t we?
And by the way, I want to thank you, my readers, for your faithfulness. My stats are growing at a steady rate, with an interesting surge since I started the Gospel of John. I appreciate you all so much!
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Was there a moment of discouragement for Jesus that day, when many who had walked with Him and been blessed by Him turned away, walked away, and no longer followed Him?
Yes, I think there was. He was wholly God, but He was also wholly man. He experienced the range of human emotions, without the sin. I believe He was hurt. Disappointed, although not surprised. In fact, His next words show us His emotion: “Will ye also go away?”
He said that to the twelve, the “inner circle,” those He had handpicked to walk His road with Him to Calvary. He loved them. They loved Him.
Peter was quick to respond, and I love what he said. “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
Where else, indeed? Who else offered them what Jesus offered them?
Peter’s next words show us that he “got it.” He understood that he was walking with the Lord of all creation; the great I AM; the Alpha and Omega, God come down in the flesh. “Thou art THE CHRIST, the Son of the Living God!” Peter knew in that moment that Jesus was God.
Did he fully understand what was to come? Maybe, maybe not. I think full understanding was a process for these men, but there is no doubt that Peter, at least, knew he was in the Presence of Holiness.
I don’t know about you, but for me, that is just a solemn, shivery, stop-and-think statement from a man we often think of as impulsive, a bit rash, kind of a bumbling, country-bumpkin, rough and ready guy who didn’t always think before he spoke. Impetuous Peter.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.
And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.
From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.
The dark clouds of Satan’s plan began to form around Jesus the day He was born. Satan’s goal was to destroy Him before He ever made it to the cross. Satan, however, never had a chance.
In yesterday’s post, we ended with Jesus’ response to those who complained that what He was saying was too hard to accept. He told them that His words would bring life to them, but then we see in verse 64 today that He continued by telling them what He already knew: Some would not believe. He knew who would leave Him, and He knew who would betray Him.
He reminded them that no one could come to Him unless they were led of the Father to do so.
And many of them, at that point, left Him. They no longer walked with Him, no longer listened to Him or enjoyed the blessings of His teaching or His miracles. It was too hard. Too complicated.
Don’t you think these people saw the reactions of their religious leaders? They did not want to be identified with any man who stood against the powerful authorities, who literally held the power of life and death in their hands.
Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
¶When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?
It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.
Disciples in v. 60 is referring not to His immediate circle of intimate followers, but to the crowds that followed Him from place to place. Many of these had partaken in the feeding of the 5,000. They had heard Him speak in the synagogue. Perhaps some of them had seen His miracles of healing along His route. They’d been impressed and amazed, but now they were puzzled and on edge. They complained that what He was saying was hard to accept, and wondered who could tolerate hearing such radical words.
Knowing what they were thinking and saying, Jesus asked them, “Doth this offend you?”
I’m reminded of one of my favorite verses, Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them.” In this wonderful verse, the word offend means to trip up, to cause to stumble.
The same meaning applies to Jesus’ question here. “Have My words caused you to stumble? Have they become an offense to you? ” He goes on to say, “If these words offend you now, what will be your reaction when you see Me in glory, and must answer to Me in judgment? Better to be offended now and get over it, than to be offended on that day!” (My own paraphrase, based on what I’ve studied about this passage.)
He went on to say, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh, feeding the flesh, has no eternal value. I speak words of life to you! ” This was His theme for this entire discourse.
How much better to consider His Words of Life and believe on Him, than to pursue the lusts and desires of the flesh!
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
This is that Bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this Bread shall live for ever.
These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.
God, the living Father, is the source of all life. As such, He is the source of eternal life, which He provided freely for all who would believe on His Son, Jesus Christ.
To feed on Jesus Christ is to partake of His person, merits, passions, and privileges. It is a lifelong experience, growing in depth and understanding as we faithfully walk with Him.
The walk of faith begins when we first believe, and it never ends. It is life eternal, provided by God through Jesus Christ. The life He provides is not like the life provided by the manna in the wilderness; those who ate of it are long dead. Eternal life is not about being fed when our stomachs are empty. It is about feeding on the Living Bread, drinking of the Living Water, throughout all eternity.
This radical, angst-inducing sermon, starting at John 6:26, was given in the synagogue at Capernaum. There was give and take. This was not a formal sermon in which only the preacher speaks. It was a conversation, with input from religious leaders, and conversation among the people, who were trying to figure out what Jesus was saying.
Why did I say the sermon was angst-inducing? It’s because Jesus presented Himself openly and definitively as The Son of God, which many of His hearers considered to be heresy. He spoke with intimate knowledge of the Father. He claimed to have come from heaven to offer them eternal life. He presented Himself as equal with God.
Stop and think. If some guy from Podunkville suddenly appeared on the scene and claimed he was the Son of God, we’d think he was a nutcase, at the very least; a heretic and false teacher at the worst. I suspect our reactions wouldn’t be much different than the reactions of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. So what was the difference?
Jesus spoke scripture. He clearly knew the Old Testament, and at only 12 years of age was capable of discussing scripture in the Temple in Jerusalem with men who were respected by all.
Jesus performed many miracles, from healing the sick to raising the dead back to life. His power was indisputable. Those in power in the Israelite religious system feared Him because He drew people to Himself, upsetting their own power and authority over the people.
There had been others who had made similar claims, over the years, but they had been easily proven false. Jesus? He was a force with which to be reckoned!
Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
Bread of life is a metaphor. Bread from heaven is a metaphor. Living bread is a metaphor. Bread of God is a metaphor. It doesn’t surprise that Jesus extends the bread metaphor to His actual, soon-to-come sacrifice on the cross. (David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible.com)
The Jewish religious leaders among the people to whom Jesus spoke were completely familiar with the Old Testament concepts of sin, sacrifice, the shedding of blood for sin, and atonement. They should have recognized the metaphors that Jesus used to drive home the truth of Who He was, and what He had come to accomplish.
Jesus, however, did not fit their concept of Messiah. He was an ordinary Man from a little no-account village, and His parents and His family were known among the people. How could He say He was the Bread of Life! They heard it as heresy, because He was not what they expected and prayed for.
The point they were missing was this: The only way to life was through sacrifice and death; belief in Jesus Christ was to partake in His death and resurrection, thereby stepping from death into life.
The sacrificed life of Jesus isfood and drink for the hungry and thirsty soul. It is the internalization of Who He is. When we receive Him as Savior, we abide in Him, and He in us.
That word, abide, is a beautiful concept. It means, literally, to plant one’s tent and live in that place, with a “forever home” implication. To abide in Christ, therefore, is to live in Him, find our heart-home in Him; commune with Him, and make Him our permanent dwelling.
For Him to abide in us is exactly the same, except that He is God and can abide in all who receive Him, no matter how many. I love knowing that even when I’m out of sorts, Christ abides in me. When I get out of my own way, I can return to His abiding in me, and enjoy the peace and rest that comes with His presence.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.
Apparently, the Jews and their religious leaders were taking Jesus’ words literally. Which, if you stop and think about it, is outside the bounds of everything else He taught. How long would the flesh of His body last if everyone at a little? Would it, like the fish and bread, multiply to suit the need? Or, as it is according to some beliefs, would the literal bread become the literal flesh upon taking it in communion?
It is no wonder, really, that Christians were accused of all sorts of egregious practices, both then and now. Here’s a quick English lesson on literary terms:
Simile: Comparing one thing to another using like or as. Example: The moon was like a giant yellow balloon soaring into the sky.
Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. Example: He was a raging tornado, destroying everything he touched.
Jesus was using a metaphor when He said, “This is My body, which was broken for you,” or “I am the Living Water,” or “I am the Living Bread.”
The Jews who were listening, however, were not learning. They immediately began to murmur again, asking how Jesus could distribute His flesh among all these people.
It is likely that the leaders, in particular, purposefully misinterpreted His words in order to stir up the crowd. I can imagine the derision in their faces and voices as they argued among themselves. Some thought He was simply insane. Others may have been moved by His words and tried to support Him. Always, there has been agreement and disagreement about Who Jesus was.
In the next verse, Jesus brought the people up short when He amplified His previous statement: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.”
Jesus had reminded them that the manna their forefathers ate did not give them eternal life. His death (the breaking of His body and shedding of His blood) WOULD give eternal life to all who chose to believe on Him. Without Him, there is no eternal life. When we come to Him in repentance, believing in Him, then we are metaphorically eating of His flesh and drinking His blood. In taking communion, we are doing so simply to remember the sacrifice He made on Calvary. We are not eating the literal body of Jesus. We are pausing to remember, be thankful, and renew our dedication to obedience to His will.