Friday, January 16, 2009

Bread of Life

It's the morning of Day 6, and I'm absolutely blown away by what God has been doing in me these last few days. Back in September, when I started in the Disciple's Heart class, the idea of reading the Bible until God showed me something was just plain scary. Right now, it seems like I can't make it more than a few verses without God showing me something.

John 6 contains Jesus' famous declaration that He is the bread of life. I have definitely found that to be true during this fast. I know that He is sustaining me through this time in ways that I never anticipated.

I don't have the time to share everything that jumped out at me from John 6, but here is one spot that got me thinking:

"Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, 'This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.' So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone." (John 6:14-15 from the NASB)

The Message puts it this way:

"The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, 'This is the Prophet for sure, God's Prophet right here in Galilee!' Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself." (John 6:14-15 from The Message)

I see two different lessons for me in these verses... one from the people, the other from Jesus.

The people saw that God was doing something extraordinary through Jesus -- this was a valid observation. They weren't opposed to Him; in fact, they were excited about Him and ready to make Him their king. They were probably very sincere about it. But even though they recognized God at work, their response was not correct. They didn't really know who Jesus was, they didn't see Him as the Messiah, so based on their limited understanding and misguided enthusiasm, they tried to make Jesus something that He wasn't.

People are still doing that today. Sincerity plus enthusiasm does not necessarily equal truth.

Jesus knew what the people were going to do, so He left.

I wonder if that's why so many times, Pentecostal / charismatic revivals felt pretty "dead" to me after they had been going on for a while... Jesus wasn't there anymore... just a thought.

There's a second lesson I draw from Jesus' response...

If someone wanted to honor me in some lavish way, I think I'd just automatically assume it was a blessing from God! I seek God's direction much more in difficult times than I do in times of apparent blessing.

One of the areas where I struggle is in seeking approval from others. I want God's approval, but many times I interpret the approval of others -- especially those in ministry -- as God's approval. Sometimes the two do co-incide... but if I value the approval of my pastors more than I value the approval of God, my heart is wrong even if I'm doing the "right" things.

If Jesus is truly my bread of life -- everything that I need -- then everything else has to be secondary. If He can truly satisfy my hunger, then I shouldn't be craving approval from anyone else.

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