03 Dec Who Can Hear a Hard Saying? – Words of Grace Blog – December 3, 2021
One of Jesus’ most famous sayings is, “I am the bread of life.” We know that Jesus is speaking metaphorically, so the line is acceptable to us, even appealing. Because we love bread, the words of Jesus are as pleasing to our minds as the aroma of hot rolls with melted butter is to our sense of smell.
Have you ever actually read John 6, the chapter that contains Jesus’ “I am the bread of life” claim? Here are two other lines from Jesus: “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh,” and “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” When the people heard Jesus, they said, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” Indeed.
What just happened? Did Jesus take his pleasing metaphor too far, turning it into a grotesque image not fit for the Bible?
One thing we know about Jesus is that he did not seek fans, he sought faithful followers. The quickest way to separate fans from faithful followers is to say something that to fan-ears is outrageous, but to the ears of faith has the power to draw one in, even if entering is strange and frightening.
The fans in John 6 were the people who ate the bread and fish which Jesus gave them through a miracle of multiplying food. They came to Jesus for more food, not to follow him as Lord.
Jesus knows their hearts. And he knows the will of God for himself. They want a king to provide for their material needs now. Jesus is sent from God to give spiritual life to all who believe in him.
To make it clear that eternal life is found in him and not in bread or in any other material or man-made solution, Jesus spoke words to communicate that people must partake of him. Life is in Jesus. To have life we must believe in him. He likens belief in him to feeding on him. And he references his body and blood to show us that our faith is to rest on his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. By partaking and feeding on Christ, we are forgiven of our sins and have his life in us.
The hard saying of Jesus landed differently on different people. The fans walked away. Their ears could not hear the spiritual nature of Jesus’ words. They were locked in on their agenda and missed the meaning of the metaphor.
Others stayed with Jesus. The hard saying remained a challenge, but it also rang true in their ears as the words of eternal life. Jesus said that their coming to him, and remaining with him, was granted by the Father.
Who can listen to the hard sayings of Jesus? Those whom the Father draws to Jesus and who believe in him.
Join me this weekend in prayer for the drawing power of God and the believing hearts of people to be evident at Grace Community Church on Sunday.