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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Today’s Reading | John 6:22–40
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” (NRSV)
A couple of years ago, a palliative nurse recorded the deepest regrets expressed to her by her dying patients. Every man she attended to told her that he wished he hadn’t worked so hard, wished that he hadn’t missed out on relationships and experiences as a result.
In today’s scripture, the crowd from Tiberius is putting a lot of effort into following Jesus. They see him as the source of manna from heaven, just as their ancestors saw Moses in that light. They think they are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the good stuff coming, but they really are not. Jesus tells them, “Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
Sure, OK. But what do they need to do? The answer is simple, yet it could not be harder.
I can understand the crowd’s skepticism about the answer when I think about my copper-mining ancestors and how they lived. For them, life was hard work, then they died, and that was that. Judging by modern-day deathbed revelations, we’re still hard-wired that way, with the added burden of regret.
Here I thought that I was beyond all that. My incentives for working are as comfort-driven as being able to buy a new car and as munificent as being able to support the mission outreach of my church. That’s a pretty good life, and isn’t that enough?
And yet there is only one responsibility of lasting importance, which is to believe in him whom God has sent:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
God, I thank you for all blessings. I pray for strength to receive them with grace and for faith to share them with joy—in short: a life without regret. Amen.
Written by Joe Pixler, member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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