Psalm of Praise: Psalms 34:1-4
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Bible Reading: John 6:53-54, 60, 66-68
Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
In their persecution of the early church, one of the things the Romans accused Christians of was cannibalism. Their wholly misguided accusations stemmed from a misunderstanding of the Christians’ celebration of ‘The Lord’s Supper and from the words of Jesus, ‘This is my body’, ‘This is my blood.’
It seems that some of Jesus’ early disciples had similar problems when Jesus said, ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.’ John tells us that, on hearing this, ‘Many of his disciples (though not the twelve) turned back and no longer followed him.’
I wonder whether there are times in your life when you have considered turning back from following Jesus. Maybe because of an illness, a death or a disaster. Maybe things you don’t understand. Maybe bits of the Old Testament you don’t like.
How do you deal with these times? What helps you to hold firm in your faith? Or do you waver?
The problem with turning back is that you have to find somewhere else to go, and Peter’s answer to the question was clear. When the twelve disciples were asked if they too wanted to turn back, his reply was, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
I think it is almost inevitable that there will be things in life that we struggle with, things we don’t agree with, things we don’t understand and things, if we were God, we would do differently! At these times, let us remember that he has the words of eternal like and that the heart of God is love for his world, and for each one of us.
We may not understand something at the moment, but one day we will. As Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, ‘Now we see through a glass dimly, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Lord, when there are things I don’t like or don’t understand, give me the grace and the faith to trust in your love and to rejoice in your words of eternal life.
Praise is rising