Day 14 - Thursday, March 12 A Difficult Teaching DAILY READING - Jn 6:59-7:13 Jesus is busy teaching the Hebrew people in the synagogue using metaphorical language so that they will understand he is like manna to them, bread that descended from heaven. Jesus is hoping they understand that he is sent by God to deliver eternal life. Interestingly, the concept is not any easier for them to grasp than it is for us. You might think it would be since Jesus is with them in the flesh. But, he looks different than the Messiah they made in their minds. Jesus is trying to overcome obstacles of set expectations. In today’s reading, Jesus has another obstacle. Some of his own disciples objected to his teaching. The very men that followed him from the beginning start to grumble. The very men that watched Jesus execute supernatural signs start to fall back from following him. Jesus admits that he is teaching a hard concept. How do you react when a deeper, harder lesson presents itself in your life? Are you likely to fall back or charge forward? I’ve recently been thinking about our resistance to the hard lessons in life. No one likes the pain of being pruned, cut back. No one likes the pain of being sifted for refinement. Life lessons are often painful procedures with a process. We resist pain. Do you think some of the disciples are falling back because they sense some pain is coming? Read Matthew 16:24. How do you think this relates to what is happening in this week’s reading? John says that Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him. Yet, he encouraged them to follow him anyway. How did Jesus know who would betray him? Why would he invite future betrayers to follow him? What does this say about Jesus? Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted deeply? Have you ever betrayed someone that trusted you? Why is betrayal such a special kind of pain? Jesus invited betrayers to follow him. I can’t possibly know the mind of Christ. But, this does invite me to consider what kind of human he was. He hoped for people. Jesus really, deeply, invested in hope. The hope of Jesus was based in faith and knowledge of what was possible when people followed him. The hope of Jesus is based in faith and knowledge of what is possible when we follow him. Jesus has hope that transfers to our own hope. How is it that the hope of Jesus transfers to our hope? How does your hope in the faith and knowledge of what is possible when we follow Jesus sustain you? When Jesus asks the Twelve, the inner disciples, if they want to leave, what is Jesus really asking them? I think he’s asking them to consider if they are willing to stick with him through tough times ahead. He’s giving them a bit of a warning. The caution sign says, “Rocky Road Ahead.” What is Peter’s response to Jesus? Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Essentially, Peter is saying they don’t have a choice. Once you know the truth, you can’t turn back. Going backward is no longer an option. When I was in high school, my youth minister used to say that we couldn’t sit on the fence. A choice had to be made. You either believed Jesus and would follow Him, or you didn’t and you wouldn’t. I think that’s what Peter is saying. Peter holds in the core of his being the Truth of Jesus. He doesn’t have a choice. There is now choice. Following Jesus is the only thing that makes sense to him. Nothing else matters. Discipleship is a process that involves forming ourselves to the likeness of Christ. As we follow Christ more closely, we become more like Him. If you had to place yourself on a continuum of discipleship reflected in today’s reading, where would you put yourself on a scale of 1-10? 1 = I'm not quite sure Jesus is necessary for life. I could turn back at any moment. 5 - I'm on the fence. 10 - I'm with Peter, there's no choice. Jesus is truly life. Are you happy with where you placed yourself on the continuum? If you aren’t, what will you do?