The 39ers have been studying the Gospel according to John. We managed to get through the first six chapters before stopping for the summer. We can only guess how long it will take to finish the rest of the book! In John 6:22-71, we read that, on the day after Jesus had multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed more than 5,000 people, the crowd had trailed after Jesus and reconnected with him in the synagogue in Capernaum. He chided them for just wanting material things, like bread and fish, and also a Messiah or political leader who would throw off the Roman oppressors. When they reminded Jesus that Moses had fed the people with manna in their wilderness journeys, he was clear that the manna had come down from God, not Moses, and that he, Jesus, is the true bread coming down from heaven. He said clearly that God is his Father and that all who believe in the Son will have eternal life. He really hammered this (you should read it for yourself) and a lot of the followers left. Jesus had challenged them to go deeper than they were willing to go.
Throughout human history, people have believed that there is a god or many gods, resulting in many religions. (Religion is humanity’s response to the persistent idea that there is a being (or beings) that transcends what we people can know and do.) Left to ourselves, we can’t really figure out God. The gods that humans have imagined have some of the attributes of the REAL GOD but none measures up to the full truth.
So the REAL GOD revealed himself to humans, first through Abraham and his family, and then through the Scriptures written about his dealings with people for thousands of years. Finally, at just the right time, when some people could take in more of his plan, God showed them the next bit: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, followed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, who continues to reveal God to us. Friends, we could not have made up this God on our own!
God has given us a great gift. We live in the period after Jesus did what he said he came to do and we have the completed Bible to tell us the how it happened and what it means.
That doesn’t make us better people than those who were listening to Jesus that day in the synagogue. But it cautions us to keep our spiritual ears and our hearts open to think carefully about spiritual concepts that confuse us. God also has given us the Holy Spirit, which none of those people had before Pentecost. He will help us to deal with the confusing concepts. At the same time, Jesus has proven that he can be trusted with the stuff that we still don’t get. Where else could we go? He has the words of eternal life!
In Christ, Ruth Johnson