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Archive for October, 2012

In the present climate of political campaigning in which a single word or phrase can impact a candidate’s poll numbers positively or negatively, I’m reminded of an incident in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John in which Jesus lost almost all his disciples when they took offense at his invitation to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

The difference today is that while a candidate’s words might have local or national political consequences for a time, Jesus’ words have eternal consequences for every living person on this planet.

A throng of five thousand men and perhaps as many as five to fifteen thousand women and children had been following Jesus for days because he had used five bread loaves and two fish to miraculously feed them until they were full.

Like today’s throngs who flock to hear preachers with “prosperity gospel” messages that promise health, wealth, and the good life if they follow Jesus, the throngs that followed Jesus that day were only interested in the good life of his miracle food.

He warned them that they shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food, but that they should seek the true bread of heaven that God was offering through him.

“Sir,” they replied, “give us that bread every day of our lives.” (John 6:34, New Living Translation, NLT)

At which, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

But the people didn’t believe that he was from heaven, for they knew him only as the son of Joseph, the carpenter.

Then Jesus dropped a bombshell:

“I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day. For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. All who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them.” (John 6:53-56)

This seemingly cannibalistic invitation offended his listeners that day, including many of his own disciples who deserted him.

So turning to the remaining twelve disciples, Jesus asked, “Are you going to leave, too?”

To which Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life. We believe them, and we know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus was not inviting people to literally eat his flesh and drink his blood. He was inviting them to partake of the spiritual nourishment and eternal life that is gifted to those who believe in him and are united in a personal relationship with God through him.

As with people in the time of Jesus, there are those today who reject Jesus because he offends them with his claims that:

• No one comes to God except through him (John 14:6).

• Forgiveness of sin and salvation to eternal life are found in no one else but him (Acts 4:12)

• Love for him must be greater than love for family and friends (Matthew 10:37)

• They must put aside their selfish ambitions, shoulder their cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23)

• They must leave their life of sin (John 5:14; 8:11)

• They must be willing to suffer for him (Matthew 10:24-26; Acts 20:24; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:13-17)

Jesus knew that not only would his own Jewish people reject him (John 1:10-11) but so would the vast majority of mankind, for he said:

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT)

Yes, only a few entered that narrow gate in the beginning—Simon Peter, ten of the remaining disciples, and a group of women who believed in Jesus and funded his ministry during the three years that he preached.

And after his crucifixion, death, resurrection from the dead, and his ascension back to heaven, many more people believed and chose to follow Jesus into the Kingdom of God, especially after God empowered them with the Holy Spirit to spread the good news that:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” (John 3:16, NLT)

Today, two thousand and twelve years later, countless numbers continue to enter that Narrow Gate through which they experience eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, and find nourishment of their souls as they fellowship with the living Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.

So, among the many questions and choices that we must make in the next few days and weeks, including for whom will we be voting to lead our nation, here are three far more eternally significant questions that each of us must answer for ourselves:

Am I among the few who have entered the Narrow Gate to eternal life that Jesus provides?

Am I willing to partake of his flesh and blood and be nourished spiritually?

Is my heart-felt response to Jesus, “Lord, to whom would I go? You alone have the words that give eternal life . . . ”?

I pray that your answer will be “Yes” to all three.

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I invite you to listen to a recent podcast of a conversation between Krista Tippett and the very gifted vocalist and musician Bobby McFerrin, in which they discuss the meaning, religious faith, ethics, and ideas that permeate his music.

Bobby has been called a vocal magician who can imitate a wide range of instrumental sounds, rhythms, and musical styles with his voice alone. He is also a conductor of symphonies, choirs, and ensembles, and is a master of improvisation.

This should be of interest to music lovers, instrumentalists, singers, and choral directors. Just click the image below to listen to the podcast:

You might also enjoy Bobby leading an audience in Ave Maria and leading a mass choir in improvisation at the “Sing! Day of Song.”

And finally, a clip of Bobby with base guitarist Richard Bona as they improvise a duet.

Grace and peace.

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