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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Invitation to be held

35-38Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
(John 6:35-38)

This passage of scripture follows an amazing event of Jesus feeding masses of people gathered on the countryside with only five barley loaves and two small fish.  The scripture tells us it was at least 5000 people - probably only counting the men in the crowd, as was the custom.  The disciples have distributed bread and fish from what appeared to be a never-ending supply, with left-overs to boot!  The miracle of feeding the multitude makes even more people show an interest in following him.  Now, Jesus speaks to the crowds that come looking for him.

Jesus has left the hillside and gone across the sea to the other shore.  He is approached by the crowds who have come looking for him and he has some pointed words for them.  The first thing he encounters is their motives - he tells them point blank that they have come looking for him simply because they were fed.  He almost chides them for their lack of spiritual insight - telling them that they were not looking for him because of what they had seen God do, but for the food!  Ouch!

Then he launches into an exhortation that escapes many in the crowd.  He asks them to seek for bread that does not perish - something really not heard of in those days of no preservatives, freezers, or air-tight containers!  They are quite honest with him that they really have no idea what he is talking about.  They even go so far as to ask him for a "clue" into what he is doing so they can really decide if they want to "throw in their lot" and follow him!  Okay - get the picture here - a crowd so huge that we could not count them all had been fed with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish AND there were even left-overs - and they want a "clue" of who he is and what he is doing????

Jesus is infinitely more patient with the stupidity of man than I am!  He guides them into discovery of who he is with an invitation to know him better.  He promises them that if they align with him, they will hunger no more.  I am thinking most of the crowd is still focusing on the type of bread that came down from heaven during the time of Moses (manna) - while he is attempting to get them to see that they need the Bread of Life (Jesus).  

The most amazing portion of this passage is found in these words:  Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go.  Woohoo!  Jesus' words give us insight into how it is that we embrace God - it is really a matter of HIM holding on to us and not letting go of US.  Somehow, we have it formulated in our minds that WE need to hold onto him - but see the truth laid out for us here - HE is the one doing the holding!

Our invitation today is to be held - but that requires a willingness to come close enough to him to be held tightly by his arms.  Jesus reminds us that even the coming is really not our doing - God has orchestrated even that.  Remember that God draws us to him - we respond by yielding to his embrace.  Jesus' promise to us is that when we run to him, he has open arms - ready to hold onto us for all eternity.  There is much to be found in his embrace - more than bread for our body with a little left-overs.  His embrace is all-encompassing.  The one he holds onto has no need of anything else to satisfy the deepest longings of the heart.

In the Sunday message from our pastor, he mentioned something that has stuck with me all week:  God calls sinners, not the righteous.  The only thing we need to be to be "qualified" to be called by God is to be a sinner - something that we are each amply qualified for!  Jesus' words are to align with him - there we find his "holding" arms of tender care, loving guidance, encouraging hope, and infinite enjoyment.  Won't you be "held" today?