Today’s Reading: John 6:43-71 (additional reading: Psalm 107:1-43 & Proverbs 15:1-3)
A young man from the city was visiting a dude ranch and wanted to appear as if he was used to the surroundings. So he went out walking with one of the hired hands. Walking through the barnyard, the visitor tried starting a conversation: “Say, look at that big bunch of buffaloes.” The hired hand replied, “Not ‘bunch’ but ‘herd’.” “Heard what?”. “Herd of buffaloes.” the worker replied. “Sure, I’ve heard of buffaloes. There’s a big bunch of ‘em right over there.”
Have you ever had trouble getting your point across? I am sure that we all have had this kind of frustration from time to time. And we are not so sure whether we are the problem in the way we communicate or whether the person to whom we are talking is not listening well.
Some times the words Jesus said were hard to understand. For example “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
Eat flesh and drink blood, It would have been at this point in time, I would have said something to Jesus like, “Would you like to rephrase that? You are starting to sound kind of weird.” But Jesus stuck with it, because Jesus’ mission was always to get people to look past the material and see the spiritual.
As we come to this last section of verses in chapter 6, we see this frustration come to a disappointing end for some that had been following Jesus. A struggle begins because the real Jesus is not always easy to listen to or follow. For many, Jesus had been easy to follow at this point. He had done great things. He had performed miracles and healings. He had fed over 5,000. It is easy to follow someone who does those kinds of things. But now it was getting more difficult. The text tells us that they were listening. They were taking it all in, hearing with appreciation. And they were rightfully concluding that this was hard. Following Jesus was no longer going to be an easy task, because He was saying things that disrupted and upset the orthodoxy of the day.
The issue always is whether we are willing to take Jesus as He is, or whether we repackage Him to suit our own preferences. Some of us want a Jesus who is a patsy, not too tough, not too clear, not too demanding, not too anything, bland and blah. We want a Jesus who is easy, who makes no demands, who doesn’t strain the brain. Anything more is too difficult, and we’re out of here.