John 6:41-51

On more than one occasion I have said that I do not like surprises. I don’t say that anymore because (surprise!) the more I’ve said it, the more people believed me. The truth is that I do not like feeling uncomfortable. To borrow a phrase from Howard Thurman, I delight in a “glad surprise,” like an unexpected phone call from someone who wanted to let me know they were praying for me. 

In this regard, I’m probably no different than most people. We like unexpected gifts. We appreciate unsolicited help at just the right time. But we are not as excited about the surprises that make us feel vulnerable. We prefer to stay in the arena of the familiar. If someone presents us with novel information and a fresh perspective, we may dismiss it because it does not fit neatly into our existing view of the world.

I wonder what glad surprises I might have missed by announcing that I did not want to be surprised. In today’s passage, Jesus is talking to people who aren’t interested in being surprised either, not even by God. They ask, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” (NET).

They are not willing to receive Jesus as the bread of life. They don’t want any surprises. They think they know everything there is to know about God. They remind us that as much as we try, we cannot control God. We cannot manage God. It is very likely that God is going to do something today that will surprise you. This surprise may challenge you to rethink, reset, and reimagine. When this happens, I hope you won’t tell God that you don’t like surprises.


How is God surprising you these days?


God, keep my mind and heart open and receptive to your unexpected gifts. Amen.

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