Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Hard Teaching

0)    What is the hardest teaching of Jesus for you? Does anything come to mind?

Previously in the Gospel of John: (5:1-15) Jesus heals on the Sabbath, getting himself and the former lame man in trouble with Jewish authorities. (5:16-47) Jesus continues to heal on the sabbath, continues to claim God as his father, and exacerbates conflict with the authorities when he criticizes them deeply and publicly. (6:1-15) Jesus feeds 5000+ with 2 loaves and 5 fishes. (6:16-21) Jesus walks on water to join the disciples in a boat.

1)    Can you imagine hearing through the grapevine that these things are going on? What would you think? Would you seek this person out?

Read John 6:22-27
2)    When do we seek Jesus for the food that spoils? What does that look like these days?

3)    Work is always a dangerous word because of baggage and connotations. How is Jesus using it here? What is work for eternal food?

Isaiah 55:1-4 “Listen! Whoever is thirsty, come to the water! Whoever has no money can come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk. You don’t have to pay; it’s free!  Why do you spend money on what cannot nourish you and your wages on what does not satisfy you? Listen carefully to me: Eat what is good, and enjoy the best foods. Open your ears, and come to me! Listen so that you may live! I will make an everlasting promise to you - the blessings I promised to David. I made him a witness to people, a leader and a commander for people.
4)    How does this connect to what Jesus is saying?

Read John 6:28-32
5)    “What does God want us to do?” Boy is that a good question the people asked Jesus! His response depends on translation.
NIV: ‘ 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” ’
GW: ‘29 Jesus replied to them, “God wants to do something for you so that you believe in the one whom he has sent.” ’
Seems like a significant difference.  How do you interpret was Jesus is saying?

6)    Are the people being naïve or actively trying to manipulate Jesus to get what they want? (Or both?) Are there any ways we try to manipulate God?

Read John 6:34-40
7)    Obviously Christians have been hungry and thirsty to the point of death, and Jesus was clear he was the bread. So what do you think he means with the never hungry nor thirsty?

8)    This sounds like predestination in the first half of v. 37. But it sounds like free will in the second half of v. 37.  What is Jesus saying?

9)    Not to get too deep in the end times stuff, but what does Jesus mean by “bring to life on the last day”?

Read John 6:41-51
Link: Isaiah 54:13 All your children will be taught by the Lord, and your children will have unlimited peace.
10)    Isn’t this a pretty reasonable criticism? Why might Jesus have reacted so strongly?

11)    What does Jesus having seen the Father have to do with eternal life here?

Bread! Bread is seriously important to the Jews. From it’s first mention in scripture on. (Gen 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow, you will produce bread to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.”) The word bread can mean food in general, the very means of sustenance. To eat bread requires special hand washing and a special blessing. And by bringing up manna Jesus already has them thinking about Deuteronomy 8:3: “So he made you suffer from hunger and then fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had seen before. He did this to teach you that a person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that the Lord speaks.”

12)    How can we understand how much Jesus saying this would freak them out?

Read John 6:52-60
Now his blood, too! Another freak out. The main requirement of meat to be kosher is complete bloodlessness, because of this command:
Genesis 4:1, 3-4 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them… 3  “Everything that lives and moves will be your food. I gave you green plants as food; I now give you everything else. But you are not to eat meat with blood in it. (Blood is life.)”
And furthermore, the Greek language used here has switched from the usual word for eat to a word more like devour.

13)    What can we, as disciples, do when what Jesus is saying is hard to accept?

14)    How do you make sense of this hard teaching?

Read John 6:61-70.
15)    Verse 63 reminds me of C.S.Lewis’ line: you do not have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.  What does it mean that life is spiritual? How do you keep your focus on that?

16)    What do you take away from this whole exchange? Why did Jesus give this message at this point in time? What does it say to us?

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