Have You Had Enough? Aug. 23
Have YouHad Enough? John 6: 56-69 Aug. 23, 2009
Normally, if the question is asked, “Had enough?” you might respond, “No, I’m still hungry; give me more.” Or, “Yes, I’m stuffed. I’ve had enough.”
Jesus is the bread of life. But the people in this case have had enough “bread,” and they push away from the table and leave. “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’”(6:60):
Jesus responds: “Do you also wish to go away?”
A body may be healthy, but the soul might be diseased. Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus provided comfort and healing for both. John 6 is a remarkable summary of the wide range of Jesus’ ministry.
He teaches the multitudes; he feeds the multitude with five barley loaves and two fish. He walks on water and dispels the disciples' fear. He describes himself as the Bread of Life. He identifies his own missionary work with those of the Father. He proposes that his own flesh and blood will become the source of life for others.
Now, Jesus, that's just too much! “Because of this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him” (6:66). These so-called disciples were not those whom Jesus himself had invited to walk with him.
Instead they were the curious, not the committed. They had entertained notions of following Jesus, but, upon finding out what Jesus was really all about, they left.
Do you also wish to go away?
Pretend Jesus is asking you that question. How would you respond?
--If you say, “Yes, I wish to go away,” why would you say that?
--Why do people find Jesus just a bit too rich for their tastes? Too filling? Too much?
Even among the twelve whom Jesus himself had hand-picked, one would leave. “‘Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.’ He was speaking of Judas Son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him” (6:70-71).
One betrayed, 11 stayed. When so many left him, or would betray him, Jesus asked the twelve: “Do you also wish to go away?” (6:67).
It is a great question to ask ourselves.
Do we wish to go away? Have we had enough?
Have we had enough of going to church? . . . of attending Sunday School? . . . Have we had enough of putting up with Aunt Matilda's complaining? . . . or helping to support the church with our selves and our substance?
Have we had enough?
Or, have we been with Jesus long enough to know that he requires giving out of our abundance to the poor?
--That he calls us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him?
--That he offers peace and forgiveness, rather than revenge and the sword?
--That a journey with Jesus is inevitably going to bring us to a cross — an unwelcome place of death and utter rejection?
Do we wish to go away? If we do, we should go. There is no record that Jesus tried to get them to stay. There are three options: those who go away, those who betray, and those who stay.
One pastor notes that, no doubt, many of the disciples who walked away from Jesus / didn’t realize they needed shelter for their souls. (Pastor Edward Judy)
It’s not unlike homeless people who continue to live under bridges when there’s a rescue mission nearby. They may not be aware that such a remedy is available. On the other hand, they may be living there, because they want to. Some people choose Jesus, and some just walk away.
On the other hand, why do we stay with Jesus, when it might be easier to go away? In some parts of the world it would not only be easier, but safer.
The disciples were ready with their answer. As usual, Peter speaks for the group: “Lord, to whom can we go?”
(Where would we go to find eternal life; where would we go to find wholeness and meaning? Nothing compares to Jesus.)
Another great question. If we wish to go away, to whom are we going to go? Where will we go? What destination offers more hope than the place we’re at? What person offers answers that are more meaningful than those we get from Jesus?
So Peter says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (6:68).
Sometimes it’s hard to know when we’ve got it so good. At this point, Peter understood. He wasn’t going away — not yet, anyway, though later, he lost his nerve. For now, he was staying the course.
Jesus has the words of eternal life. In him we have shelter for the soul. Only he is the Bread of Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Mother Teresa said: “In each of our lives Jesus comes as the bread of life — to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how he loves us. Then Jesus comes into our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the bread of our life — our hearts loving, our hands serving.”
For the past 40 years, the record of the American church has been mixed on the issues of both providing shelter for the body and providing shelter for the soul. In general, the mainline church in this period has been enormously energetic in providing assistance and political clout on behalf of shelter for the body. But, it’s probably fair to say that this same wing of the church has been less enthusiastic about providing shelter for the soul.
The evangelical wing of the church, meanwhile, has been busy providing shelter for the soul by urging people to seek personal transformation through personal encounters with Christ and following this emphasis up with strong education and worship programming. They’ve been typically lukewarm on issues that deal with providing shelter for the body.
Today those stereotypes are less true. Mainline churches are recovering their spiritual center. They are saying with Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” And evangelicals are speaking up on issues ranging from homelessness to global warming. All of this is very encouraging.
Yet, the issues are intensely personal. Jesus blessed the bread and the fishes, but it was the disciples who fed the crowd.
We’re the hands and the feet of Jesus. We have nowhere else to go.
Will we stay, betray, or go away?
E. Stanley Jones tells of a missionary who got lost in an African jungle, nothing around him but bush and a few cleared places. He found a native hut and asked the native if he could get him out. The native said he could.
“All right,” said the missionary, “show me the way.”
The native said, “Walk,” so they walked and hacked their way through unmarked jungle for more than an hour.
The missionary got worried. “Are you quite sure this is the way? Where is the path?”
The native said, “Bwana, in this place there is no path. I am the path.”
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . I am the bread of life . . .
It’s a good thing to push away from the table when we’re full. But Jesus is our “bread of life.” He must be a part of our spiritual diet every day.
Jesus speaks the words of eternal life. He offers himself as spiritual food.
Christ provides us with all that is necessary; we are able to proceed on the
journey of faith. The words will guide us toward the right path to take.
They will keep us from becoming wayward or getting lost along the way. The food (this bread) will sustain us and satisfy our hunger. Christ is our guide and provider!
Truly, it is the Spirit that gives life. (God's words are spirit and life) Let us pray:
Rev. Rosemary Stelz