Day 13 - Wednesday, March 11 The Work of God DAILY READING - Jn 6:22-58 Yesterday’s reading lays a firm foundation for our study today. Jesus has large crowds of people following him. A college football stadium full of people, maybe more. Jesus miraculously feeds the monumental masses. He and the disciples try to get a little break from the crowds as they set off in a boat to the other side of the lake. The crowds chase them. The crowds find them. Place yourself in the Jesus' sandals for a minute. You’ve been speaking to this substantial pack of people for days. Your mouth is parched. You’ve extroverted far more than you care to extrovert. You just need a little time alone. You get in a boat hoping for a break. The crowds are relentless and follow you everywhere you go. How does this feel as a human? The hoards of people are curious, not yet following Jesus out of obedience or a desire to become a disciple. In Jn 6:26, Jesus says the crowds are following him because: Which context most closely describes why you are following Jesus? Do you genuinely and obediently want to become a disciple of Christ? Or, are you following Jesus because of what he can do for you? How do these two contexts differ? Jesus tells the Israelites not to work for “food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.” We have physical needs as humans living in a physical world. We hunger. We thirst. We must be clothed. We must work to provide for our physical needs. Is Jesus really telling us not to work? I think what Jesus is saying here is to keep things in perspective. We must work to feed our hunger and thirst. We have material needs. But, those material needs should not drive our existence. Material things are temporal and should be treated as such. Our culture has convinced us that the material is more important than the eternal. It’s so easy to cling to the material as if it matters more than the eternal. I think all of us struggle, in one way or another, with the desire for the material things. What material things are you attracted to? How does the desire for material things interrupt your relationship with Jesus? How much time do you spend working for material things each week? How much time do you spend with Jesus each week? The people ask Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” The apostle Paul says a little something about this in his letter to the Ephesians. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. It is by that we are saved, not by . We can’t work our way into the Kingdom. We can’t work ourselves into God loving us anymore than He already does. We can’t work our way into more approval. Grace saves us through faith in Christ. Period. And, grace is a gift from God. Christ Jesus created good works for us to do. The good works spring forth from our faith in Christ. As a disciple conforming to Christ, good works will pour from you out of that relationship. Good works do not precede your salvation. Good works are the result of your salvation. Do you see the difference? How would you describe the difference differently than I have? In John 6:29, Jesus answers “The work of God is this: We better get to work believing. Our work is to believe God. Not believing IN God, but believing God. Believe His Word. Believe He will do what He says He will do. Believe God is who He says He is (Moore, Believing God, 43). Read Romans 4:1-3,13,16,18 and Rom 5:1-2. What does Paul say about having faith and belief in God? The Israelites refer to the manna that their ancestors ate. Read Exodus 16:11-34. How is Jesus like this bread from heaven? Jesus says, ”Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:56, NIV). Later in John 15:4, Jesus will instruct us to remain in him. Tying these two things together, can you see how the celebration of the Eucharist is crucial to the body of Christ? The Eucharist is not a requirement for salvation. But, the Eucharist celebrates our communion with Christ and our communion with each other in such a way that we are united by the Holy Spirit in the Feast. By eating the Body and drinking the Blood, we are bound to Christ. We remain in him. Routinely and regularly, we feed on Christ to sustain us. Individually and communally, we remain bound to Christ through the Eucharist. We celebrate Christ in the Eucharist. We affirm our faith and belief in the Eucharist. The Eucharist feeds us and sustains us. This is the Bread of Life, the lasting, eternal Kingdom life. Does participating in the Eucharist nourish your spiritual journey? Why/Why not?