Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jesus the Bread of Life Part 5 (John 6:66-71)

John 6 can be divided into 2 parts:

The 1st part-Jesus provides men's physical food. Man does not live by bread alone. Man's mouth needs to eat food.

The 2nd part (completely turned around)-Jesus does not provide men's physical food anymore but spiritual food. Man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Man's ears need to listen to God's word.

Which one do we need more? Many times what we need are not what we think we need. Many times, we don't think that we need the things that we really need. Who among men would think that they need God's word? Confucius, the most famous Chinese thinker taught the Chinese 'real man seek the truth.' But ironically, most Chinese sought physical food everywhere instead of the truth.

Towards the end of John 6 we see that Jesus' teaching becomes more and more difficult to understand. To make it worse, he talked about things that were not practical. Many people, judged Christ's words by the surface and therefore started leaving him. In John 6:6 there were as many as 12000 people. By the time we reach John 6:67, there were only 12 left-the Twelve. This stands in contrast with today's church growth theology. This is church decline, to be accurate.

What was Jesus' reaction?

Far from being afraid that nobody will follow him anymore, he actually asked the Twelve (v67), 'Why don't you leave me and go with them too?' (this is a more accurate translation from the original text in Greek, which could be found in the Indonesian translation of the Bible). Jesus was not afraid that men will leave him but he was asking why they were still with him there.

Jesus' purpose in asking this question is to make them ask themselves, 'Why am I still here?' Everybody may change, even though he may not realise that. Therefore it is meaningful to ask this question. Peter's answer was very magnificent:

'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God (John 6:68).'

In the Bible, there are only 2 times when a person is told to go away. One is in this story, part of the New Testament. Another one is in the Old Testament, in the book of Ruth. In the story, Naomi told her daughter-in-laws Orpah and Ruth (both were Moabites) to go back to their own land, Moab, instead of following Naomi to return to Israel (since his husband and his 2 sons all died). After much persuasion Orpah relented and went back to Moab, but the next moment we read the greatest answer from the greatest daughter-in-law in history:

'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.' (Ruth 1:16-17)

In other words, Ruth took Naomi's God as her God, Naomi's religion as her religion, Naomi's nation as her nation, and Naomi's faith as her faith. Ruth declared that she would never leave Naomi. Ruth took this decision despite the likely rejection from the Israelites of her and difficulty in adjusting into the Israelites' culture. Naomi must have felt very touched.

In this New Testament text of John 6:68, Peter answered on behalf of all generations in the Church. Peter's answer was the true answer that Jesus wanted to hear. And this is also the answer that Christ wants to hear from us today. Why are you here today? Why do you listen to the sermon? To copy sermons and preach them elsewhere? To look for a girlfriend? To find out business opportunities? Can you answer like the Apostle Peter, 'You have words of eternal life ?'

What was the motive of the people following Jesus? Some came for seeing miracles, some for food, some to follow Jesus, some to listen to good sermons [but not to do anything about what they hear], some for the benefits, and some to satisfy their curiosity. When everybody else has left and the Twelve were asked this question, Peter is effectively asking back, 'Why are you chasing us away? You have words of eternal life. Who else can we go to?' I believe when Jesus heard this, he heard it in the same way Naomi heard the words of Ruth.

Not only that, Peter added, 'We have believed' and '(We) have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.' The phrase 'Holy One of God' is always used in a specialised way. Isa 40-66 often used this phrase to indicate that this 'Holy One of God' is the only One who would be sent by God, i.e. there is only one who is sent by God. So it is important to understand Christology in Isaiah. However, in NT there was one angel who said this i.e. Gabriel, who declared to Maria that the baby she was going to bear will be called the Son of God(singular)/the Holy One of God. The angel Gabriel is speaking of the fulfillment of Isaiah here. There is one and the only one, the Holy One, who will be sent by God.

In hearing Peter's great reply, Jesus did not feel comforted. He declared that he had chosen the 12, yet 1 of them is a devil. It was as if Jesus was saying, 'Just because you are part of the Twelve, you feel very great? Let me tell you, one of you is a devil.' Among the chosen people, in the best church, there are bound to have some spies from the devil and in the worst church, there are bound to have true followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not overjoyed, and he said this to mean that Judas Iscariot would be the one to betray him.


At 11:49 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I would like to start by asking you two questions. One: Can you can give an accurate definition of the phrase: "Lamb of God"? We all know that this is one of the names used for Jesus, like Messiah, Savior, Son of Man, or Christ. But exactly what is the importance of the name "Lamb of God"? And why is it important to me as a Catholic?

The second question I would like to ask you is: Why the Catholic Church would offer The Holy Eucharist every day at every Mass throughout the world in over 3000 languages. What knowledge do they have that would make them feel compelled to do this for thousands of years? In answering this question, we'll see why the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.'" (CC 1324)

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Mejlina said...

Hi Michael,

Hope you are well. I am not sure in what context you are asking the question, so I'm providing a standard answer:

1. The title "Lamb of God" is a title derived from the Old Covenant, where spotless lambs are slaughtered and their blood poured out for the forgiveness of a person's sins. Its importance lie in the fact that Jesus is the one who is the final fulfilment of all the Old Covenant sacrifices in that He died, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of the sins of His people. As for its importance for you as a [Roman] Catholic, I am not sure. But of its importance to you (and me) as a sinner, this title reflects the Gospel message where only Christ's death on our behalf can pay the penalty for the sins of those who repent and believe in Him.

2. First of all, it is not true that that has been practiced for thousands of years. The Roman Catholic Church has only started offering the wine to the laity during the Eucharist, and use the vernacular language for Mass instead of Latin, rather recently probably at Second Vatican (20th century).

The Roman Catholic Church's practice does not have a direct lineage all the way back to the Apostles. The reason why the Church in early times celebrated the Eucharist differed greatly compared to that of the 'branch' of Roman Catholicism after the Reformation. The rationale for celebrating the Eucharist as a re-enactment of Chrit's sacrifice began in the Medieval period, was accepted at the Fourth Lateran Council, and gained respectability through Thomas Aquinas. Before that, the Eucharist was merely called a sacrifice of praise and the "Real Presence" meant "Christ's presence in the Supper," without describing what that phrase actually meant. During the Reformation, the Real Presence was accepted and interpreted differently by Roman Catholics and non-Baptist Protestants alike (Transubsantiation vs Consubstantiation and Spiritual Presence)

Hope that helps.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Dear Mejlina,

Do you understand the 4th Cup?

After the beginning of Jesus' Last Passover Supper (Seder) Judas Iscariot left to do what he had to do. The twelve left in the room were at the point where the second of four traditional cups was about to be drunk.

(The first is at the beginning of the Seder meal.) Jesus took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes."

More of the lamb meal was consumed. During that He took a loaf of unleavened bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, "This IS my body given for you; do this to recall me."("Recall" is a better translation of the Greek "anamnesis" than "remember".)

After the supper He took the third cup saying,"Drink from it, all of you. This IS my blood of the NEW and everlasting covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

A hymn was sung, which is a combination of several psalms called The Great Hillel, and they went out to the Mount of Olives.

What happened? The Passover ceremony and ritual was not complete. There was no fourth cup. There was no announcement that it was finished. Could it be that Jesus was so upset with what He knew was about to happen that He forgot? Doubtful!

Not only Jesus, but also the 11 others had participated in the Passover Seder every year of their lives. No, this was done on purpose. The last supper of Jesus was not over.

On the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples slept while Jesus prayed,"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done."

He prayed that three times. Then Jesus was arrested, illegally put on trial by the Sanhedrin, then by Pontius Pilate, sentenced and crucified.

While on the cross He wept. Jesus, who was in excruciating agony, was so merciful that He prayed for the forgiveness of His executioners. He was offered some wine with a pain killer, myrrh, in it. He refused it.

"Later, knowing that all was now complete, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled and the kingdom established, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'" A man dipped a sponge into sour wine; he placed it on a hyssop branch and lifted it up to Jesus lips.

He drank. (We recall that it was the hyssop branchwhich was used to paint lambs blood around the Hebrew's door for the Passover of the angel of death.)

It was then that Jesus said, "It is finished." He then bowed His head and gave up the spirit to His Father.

The fourth cup now represented the lamb’s blood of the first Passover, a saving signal to the angel of death.

The Lamb of God was now sacrificed. The last Passover supper of Jesus Christ was now complete with the fourth cup. It was finished.

The tie in with the Passover is unmistakable.

The Lamb of God was sacrifice and death was about to be passed over come Easter day.

The promise of eternal life for many was about to be fulfilled.

Christ’s Passover was finished, but His mission was not until he rose from the dead.


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