Devotion for August 21, 2018

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.

Sometimes Jesus said things that were hard to hear. There were things that He said where it would just be easier if He hadn’t said them. If you’ve studied the Bible much you have probably found this. Sometimes it says things we wish it didn’t say.
I had an experience like this as a pastor. I was instructing a new member on the teachings of our church, and as we were studying a particular topic, he said, “I don’t like that, is that OK?” Confused, I asked him to clarify. He said, “Oh I believe that it’s true, but I don’t like it. Is that OK?” My response? “That’s exactly what faith does. It believes this word is true, even when it is hard or when we don’t like it.”

In fact, that’s, in effect, what we see the disciples doing as they hear this. John tells us, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’” What I always notice here, though, is Peter’s confession that follows. I see Peter’s confession of “I don’t like this, but I believe it.” He tells Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

You see Peter had just heard Jesus say, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” And as he heard Jesus say that, Peter understood. All he could claim for himself was his sinful flesh, but Jesus was the One who spoke the words which carried God’s Spirit, and in that Spirit, the Lord gave Peter life and forgiveness of sins. Was his flesh any good? No, but the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, was capable of bringing life to him in the midst of that sin.

So what does this mean for us? The same thing. We have only our sinful flesh, but Jesus has died for our sins. He has carried the sins of the whole world on his shoulders, and bled for them on the cross. In His resurrection, then, and as He sent His apostles into the world, He gave them His Word and Spirit. He sent them so that in that Word, even today we would have life in that Spirit. In other words, as we hear Jesus’ Word, the Spirit comes to us, and brings life to our dead, sinful flesh, that we would live forever in His resurrection. We don’t have to like it, but we should believe it. Likewise, we should cling to it as our only hope, and in the midst of that eat His flesh and drink His blood as He bids us do. Amen.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have the words of eternal life. Grant us to eat your flesh and drink your blood knowing that you are the bread which has come from Heaven. In Your mercy, bless us that in hearing Your word we would trust that what you say is Spirit and Life for us. Amen.