Sunday, May 14, 2006

Abide in Me

After the miracle of feeding five thousand, many people had begun to follow Jesus. Jesus, knowing the crowd grew because He provided food that perishes and did not care about things of eternity, offered this statement:

“Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” John 6:53-56

Not surprisingly, many following Him turned back.

Certainly, this is not one of the more popular sayings of Jesus. You rarely hear it quoted in sermons or Sunday school. And, it in fact did not increase His popularity – as He boldly followed that statement with:

“Does this offend you? is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

And still more left.

Obviously, Jesus felt this was a crucial message to the survival of His disciples if He made statements that caused, what the modern church would call, “seekers” to turn away. Please keep in mind, He offered this message in the wake of miraculously providing food and drink for the crowds. You must eat my flesh. You must drink my blood. Obviously, Jesus was not a cannibal. So, what does that mean?

His message, as always, was focused on a spiritual need, not merely a physical need. It is easy for us to accept the idea that when you eat food, it gives your body energy and is used to build muscle, to repair tissues, to supply organs. Without food, your body will grow weak, become susceptible to disease and eventually die. Without food, your body can do nothing. The very same principals work in the spiritual realm. Without the Spirit, without abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15:6). We can do nothing of any worth to God.

There is also a time aspect built into our need for spiritual nourishment. As time passes, the longer we are apart from the presence of Jesus, from His word, the weaker our convictions, the less our power and the more susceptible we are to attack. It’s like food. Without it, we grow weak. In the same way we would not willfully go a day (unless fasting) without food, our soul does not willfully go a day without nourishment. Instead of hunger pains, we feel spiritual pain. We feel inadequate, empty, exhausted. We feel powerless. It’s no wonder many Christians feel powerless, bored, in their faith. They haven’t communed with Christ, abode in Him, for days, weeks, months or sometimes years!

There is no religion here. This is about relationship. It is about spending time with Jesus the way you would a good friend, your wife or a grandparent. That time helps you know them more, it transforms you and teaches you. But with Jesus, it’s more than that. He gives us the Spirit by which all of our righteousness and Christianity emanates. It is from abiding in Jesus, like grapes on a vine, that we bear much fruit. One thing that helps me in the discipline of abiding is

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John15:5-8


Blogger Kate said...

I love that you updated about a thousand times this week. Everytime I read your blog, I'm sort of awed and inspired... And I've got to be honest, it doesn't exactly make me want to let you read my writing. I'm intimidated.

8:51 PM  

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