February 19, 2005

The Disciples Respond / Marjorie

John 6:60-71 (NRSV)

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?"

I love this, its as if the author is predicting our response. It lets us know that its okay to have these questions and fears, its natural.

But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe."

The material is useless -- its really as simple as that but I know that I struggle with what I want from a material point of view. I try to justify not following my spiritual yearnings because I am so materially comfortable and I fear the loss of that. Yet I know that its the spirit that gives life. The struggle and anguish are evidence of fighting against what I know must be done. The words give life, now all I have to do is live them.

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father."

The idea of predestination is implicated here. I don't have a problem with this because I don't understand the intersection of the temporal and the eternal. I imagine that presdestination and free will need not be mutually exclusive. This is one of those areas where I simply accept that God is vastly beyond my understanding and I don't even fight it.

Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

I love hot-headed, impulsive Peter. Despite all the questions and fears and uncertainties, this is really want it comes down to -- there is no place else to go and there is no need to worry. I always think of the parable from Luke about putting the hand to the plow and not turning back. Sometimes the plow might seem as if it is too difficult, unbearable even, but there is nothing else. Any difficulties or pain it causes is a source of joy, because this is where eternal live is. What joy, what rapture. We know to be quiet, to rest and be still, but we continue to struggle. Its okay, though, because eventually we will quiet down again.

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil." He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him

I am looking forward to discussion Judas Iscariot in the future lessons.


At 3:23 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Your quoted: "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe."

The way John used believe here suggests to me that it's related to a spiritual perspective. Those who "don't believe" resort to the material and neglect the spiritual.

As you have pointed out, it seems to me that most (or all) of us are implicated in that 'unbelief'. To turn to the spiritual we have to (at least to some extent) neglect the material, which (you and I) find blessed hard to do.

To choose the spiritual may be a "journey of a thousand miles", but such a journey begins with "one step". Those I know who seem to be very spiritual have obviously been at it for a long time.

Re predestination I think you have it right: from the viewpoint of the (timeless) eternal everything is predetermined. Temporally everything is conditioned on our will.

I just got hold of a book about Michael Servetus. He questioned John Calvin's doctrine of predestination and got burned at the stake for it. I'm an emotional person, and I sort of tend to disregard predestination on that account; hopefully I won't suffer his fate.


Post a Comment

<< Home