No compromise – Saturday, 3rd Week in Easter – Acts 9:31-42/ John 6:60-69

The bread of life discourse now draws to an end and by human standards it ends tragically with many of the disciples abandoning Jesus and he being left with just the twelve apostles (6:67). Faced with such a situation, modern day church councils, irrespective of their denominations, would find themselves rushing around issuing damage control statements insisting that the words of Jesus were taken ‘out of context’ or that he has been ‘misunderstood’ and ‘misquoted.’ There would be an attempt to convince Jesus to retract his statements in the face of empty seats in the pews and obviously diminishing financial contributions. Twitter would have been abuzz.

It seems that the offer of ‘eating Jesus’ flesh’ did not fly well in the face of the disciples. Yet, Jesus was clear and definitely unambiguous. He declared that he was the bread of life, the living bread come down from heaven and whoever eats of this bread will live forever. Then Jesus added the one line that caused many to gasp in horror and make a quick getaway to the nearest exist; he declared that bread that he will give is his flesh. (John6:51).

Jesus was clear, the bread he gives is his flesh and he labours the point in 6:53-59. So clear is his teaching that the opening lines of today’s Gospel text tell us that the Jews, many of whom were his disciples, called this “intolerable language or as some Bibles have it, “difficult to accept.” Here is the proof we have to state clearly that there was no misunderstanding on the part of the Jews or his disciples. If they thought that Jesus meant that the bread he gives them was merely symbolic, they would not have left him. But they understood that he was crystal clear; “the bread that I will give for the life of the word IS MY FLESH.”

“Does this offend you?” (John 6:61) asks Jesus. This is a truth that we need to address. So often, we the ‘children of light’ are afraid of ‘offending’ the world whom we live to please. We want to make the language of faith inclusive till it is watered down and up for any lively interpretation. Yet Christ does not tip toe around broken glass, he is direct and clear. This is how the cookie crumbles! Faith must not be compromised and vigorously defended.

Finally, we are told that since many of the disciples left Jesus and no longer went about with him (John 6:66) Jesus turns to his apostles and asks them, “do you also wish to go away?” At once we must recognize that faith is not slavery but a choice we make in freedom. The response of Peter, “Lord to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life” are not some words of tragic despair rather but words of affirmation in the teachings of Jesus. What Peter was effectively saying was, ‘because we believe where else can we go?’

Faith grows on you if you are open to it. Peter acknowledges that when he says, “we have come to believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.” Ironically the fervent words of Peter’s faith are not the last words of Jesus in the John Chapter 6. What is not included in the text is the last words of Jesus on this matter. He, the living bread who gives us his flesh to eat for our salvation will be betrayed by one of the twelve who chose to stay back with Jesus. Judas had the chance to walk away but this “devil,” as Jesus called him, chose to stay on and bring sadness to others. Perhaps it is good that some walk away so that the others may practice the true faith peaceably.
– Written with malice to none

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