Archive for June 6th, 2020

Saturday, June 6, 2020

John 6 Bread of LifeDeuteronomy 10:12-22

God’s Work

Circumcise your hearts and be no longer stiff-necked.

This is a verse we can never hear too often.  In Chapters 4 through 11 of this book, Moses preaches to his people about the Law of the covenant which God shares with them.  In this way, the book is another form of communication with God – and Moses here is motivating obedience, encouraging reform.  (Mays 195)  “Because God elected this tiny, enslaved people, they should now keep his law.  Election requires internal circumcision, the removal of any obstacle to willing obedience.  God’s greatness is reflected in concern for the marginal people in society, a concern characteristic of the law that will follow”.  (Mays 200)

This is a heavy challenge for us in that we must be willing to remove anything from our lives which separates us from God.  These obstacles may be people, places, habits, or attitudes which inhibit us from seeing ourselves clearly.  What we often forget is that we are here to have our rough edges smoothed, our wrinkles ironed out, and our branches pruned and disciplined.  And no matter how often we avoid learning a lesson, God will continue to send us new lesson plans through which to experience the freedom he wishes for each of us . . . he loves us this much.  We might try to pick and choose the messages we want to hear.  We might think that we can pick and choose among the many seminars God has prepared for us.  Yet in the end, we will find that the very people, places, habits and attitudes we value might be our obstacles.  And these obstacles must be dealt with.  How do we know what to avoid in life and what to take on?  How do we know what is God’s work and what is the work we have decided for ourselves is best, perhaps against God’s recommendation?

We hear that answer in today’s Gospel message from John 6: Jesus answered them and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent”.  Jesus’ questioners ask for a sign that they might believe, saying that God sent manna to the Hebrews in the desert to sustain them in their time of distress and to show them that Moses was their shepherd.  Jesus says to these doubters, “I am the bread of life; whoever believes in me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst”. 

The crowd murmurs that they do not believe that this Jesus, the son of the carpenter Joseph whom they knew, can be the bread of heaven – the stuff that sustains us eternally.  And so the questioners go away, thinking that rejection of Jesus is a solid decision.  Jesus questions the twelve who follow him, asking why they, too, do not leave.  They reply, Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.

When we become confused by life, when we are tired out from overcoming the obstacles, when we become anxious about the future, worry about the past and forget the present, we are doing our own work rather than God’s.  When we become consumed by plans for ourselves rather than following through with the life that best suits God’s plan, we deceive ourselves.

We have been called.  We have work to attend to.  We can invent our own agenda, we might design our own schedule and routine.  Or . . . we can perform the work lying, waiting in our hands.  This is God’s work and there is no safer place to be, no firmer ground to stand on, no toil more rewarding.  So let us remove the obstacles before us and roll up our sleeves. For there is God’s work to be done!

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Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 195 and 200. Print.

First written on August 2, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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