Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Whad'ya Expect John 6:24-35

Jesus was a miracle worker. 5000 fed from a few loaves and fish proved that Jesus was the one people needed on their side. Crowds followed Jesus expecting more (John 6:24). More miracles, more teaching, more healing--they wanted him to do more. Truth is we all need bread and Jesus feeding 5000 revealed power beyond anyone else's. They knew he was their Messiah and they could see the signs. But they wanted more.

So why is it that we want more from Jesus. Those already miraculously fed, they wanted more bread. And Jesus called them out. He said they came looking for another fill of bread John 6:26-27—-he came not to feed them once but to offer himself as the bread of life John 6:35. People who come to Jesus seeking only material blessings miss the greater blessing he wants to give—-relationship with him and his followers that doesn't end on this side of eternity (Ephesians 4:14-16). People who came only wanting another meal miss the blessing who stood right in front of them offering himself as their way to life everlasting (John 6:35).

Jesus taught his friends to pray, “give us this day our daily bread.” Luther wrote in his Small Catechism

...God gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all evil people, but we ask in this pray that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.
It's easy, as a person with a full belly, to miss all the blessings I've received. It's too easy for me to call the crowd who came looking for more lazy. I sit full and comfortable and can accuse the crowd of missing the point of Jesus ministry when they came back asking for more bread. If I consider my own prayers I see the crowd and I have a lot in common. I give God lists of needs and wants all the time. And I easily miss the greater gift, God's own self given for the sake of the world, that's already present in my life in Jesus. It's so easy to miss what God gives if I don't see beyond my daily needs and wants. Jesus comes to meet our every need, he comes to be our all in all. If we only think about today's necessities we miss the promise of eternity with Jesus.

We come to God asking for more and Jesus points to more than material gifts--Jesus offers his very self. (John 6:35). Preaching on John 6 Oscar Romero wisely said,
Christ can do that which people are unable to do. Christ can raise us up to God.
Here's the promise of Christ's Incarnation. Jesus came to be God with us and for us. He came to give his very self away. He is the bread of life. He came to offer bread that will never be taken away or lost to decay (John 6.27) And Paul invites us to be part of his body Ephesians 4:15-16. We come to Christ not just looking for bread but for life and in sharing our gifts, whatever they might be, we find new life too. Amen.

Monday, July 6, 2015

What God's already done Ephesians 1:3-14

I read Ephesians 1:3-14. What a great blessing for me this week. I'm reminded of all God has done. The reality of God's grace and what God already did through the cross of Jesus just overwhelms. Many say it's too good to be true--they look for something to do to earn more of God's grace and more of God's love. But Paul says God's grace and love have already been revealed fully and completely in Jesus cross and rising. Human religion says do this and you will earn God's love or merit more grace--Paul invites our attention to what God's already done.

Grace as a gift unearned and undeserved. Wow. In the middle of this week's joys and struggles, hopes and frustrations comes word from Paul of God's grace for us--and more personally for me a sinner. Grace for a real sinner like me is always undeserved. For a righteous person God's favor makes sense--but for a sinner struggling daily with sin in every dimensions of my life it's way beyond comprehension. I've heard many qualify or limit the reach and power of God's grace. But Paul declares what God has already done for those who believe. God's grace in Jesus just stands out as the greatest gift of all time. Listening to Paul's words is like salve for my soul. Paul declares the news of what God's ongoing activity is on behalf of believers.

Paul isn't making a list of requirements to earn grace. Instead he's declaring what God has already done. Just listen to all that Paul says God's already done and is still doing...

  • God blessed us: God gives us spiritual blessings in heavenly places Ephesians 1:3
  • God chose us: God chooses to see us holy and blameless Ephesians 1:4
  • God destined us: God made us his children through adoption Ephesians 1:5
  • God bestowed on us: God in his glorious grace has freely done all this Ephesians 1:6
  • God lavished on us: God forgives our sins, a lavish gift, bought at the cost of his Son's death and rising Ephesians 1:8
  • God has made known to us: God revealed this mystery of his will to us Ephesians 1:9
The things God has done through Jesus Cross and resurrection: wonderful. The gift is free but the price was everything. For God's grace undeserved and unearned this sinner gives thanks.
Peace, and thanks for reading, John.