Why do we complain that Jesus’ teaching is too difficult? Do we think that Jesus came to teach the easy stuff? In today’s text, Jesus offends many of his disciples with the claim that he came down from heaven. The disciples get angrier by the moment as Jesus repeats his demand that they eat his flesh and drink his blood. They don’t understand what Jesus means. Levitical laws forbid them to eat human flesh and drink human blood. Plus, that’s gross.
What the disciples see as impossible, Jesus presents as a gracious gift of eternal life. The life Jesus offers requires us to feed on him (v. 57). We cannot do life on our own. If we try, the flesh counts for nothing. Jesus’ hard work of offering forgiveness, extending mercy, doing justice, and praying without ceasing necessitates that we be fully immersed in the way of life that is shaped by the words and life of Jesus. There are no shortcuts. There are no quick fixes. To follow Jesus is to enter into a long obedience.
My daily work in ministry is most difficult when I do it on my own. On the days when I’m leaning too heavily upon my flesh—my training, my ideas, my ego—I know exactly how the disciples feel. I’m agitated by the idea that Jesus would put so many demands on me. When I sit still, I hear Jesus remind me that his words are full of spirit and life. I hear him calling me to believe and to trust. When this happens, I am no longer offended or exhausted. I am challenged to listen to him even more closely so that the Father can draw me more deeply into the life of God’s Son.
What are you trying to do without Jesus?
Holy God, I am listening to you and relying on you today. Amen