Sunday, October 5, 2008

Scandalous (part 2) -- "I'm not your freak show!"

So we read here in John 6 that about 5,000 men sat down on the grass to eat.  This count does not include women and children.  Most teachers would suggest the attendance count for this meal is now in the ballpark of 7,500-10,000.  I must admit, I have no idea what this looks like, so since we're talking about grass lets consider the playing field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (or any college football playing surface near you).  Pack the playing field out, not the stands, just the grass playing surface.  (Now, for good measure, imagine a circus tent over the top, because these people are looking for a show.)

Jesus had just met every person's physical need the day before.  Feeding them all until they "had enough to eat."  Now, not even realizing Jesus had done the whole walking on water thing, they come looking for him again.  "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe?"  Come on Jesus, let's move the circus tent to this side of the lake.  Do another show.  Do it again; do it again Jesus!  Imagine Jesus, "Don't you get it!  I'm not your freak show!"

"Come on Jesus, just one more act.  One more show.  At least do that feeding thing again.  Many of us are here again.  If you just feed us again, then we'll believe."  Now, bring it into our setting, our context, "Come on Jesus, do it again.  Just give me direction one more time."  "Just help me out of this one, and I'll be all yours this time.  No holding back, I promise."  "If you'll just get me outta this jam, then I'll...."  "If you'll just give me a sign, then I'll...."

So Jesus, knowing "what is in a man," says something very profound, something described by his followers as "hard teaching" that some cannot, will not accept.  Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to be will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."  He then goes on to talk about "eating his flesh" and "drinking his blood" to have life.  But this goes against EVERYTHING their religion taught.  It sounded so cannibalistic, though this is not what Jesus was saying at all.  He wants to be our SUSTENANCE, not a talent act, not a 'freak show'.  But, again, misunderstood.

Jesus is fulfilling the words of the prophet Isaiah, "...he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall."  The word here is a SCANDALIZO, from SCANDALON, or 'stumbling stone.'  His teaching is scandalous, it goes against everything they knew, everything they had been taught.  It goes against everything WE KNOW, everything WE are taught.  What will WE do?  What will I do?  What will YOU do?  Will you stumble over Jesus' calling you to something different than what the world around you says?  Will you turn away from 'HARD TEACHING'?  OR, will you allow Jesus to sustain you, to fill your hunger and quench your thirst?  Even when it's offensive?  Even when it doesn't follow the way of the world?  Even when it goes against EVERYTHING you've heard or believed before?

Will you be like the many who "turn back and no longer follow," or will you be one of the few who follow with reckless abandon never to hunger or thirst again?!?  Jesus is asking, it's your choice...