December 8, 2014
We’re excited to continue our devotional series on God’s Kingdom among us. As we explore who Jesus is and how he impacts our lives and ministries, we’ve examined the Word becoming flesh (John 1:1-4; 14-16) and the living water (John 4:13-14). This week, we will focus our attention on the bread of life (John 6:15-28).
by Rev. Dr. Dixie Lehman (M.Div., 1980)
Chaplain and CPE Coordinator, VA Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD
Five thousand for dinner, no problem! Staying calm in the storm, no problem! The Bread of Life is God’s generosity providing beyond our expectations in faith by trusting Jesus in the midst of very challenging circumstances. How did Jesus stay focused when there were so many expectations placed upon him? How did he use everyday circumstances to help his followers trust him, to believe and see how God’s kingdom broke into their lives regularly?
Read today’s scriptural text through the lens of who Jesus is. The characters demonstrate varying expectations. The people at the feeding of the 5000 wanted Jesus to be king, and Jesus withdrew. The disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. They were terrified, and Jesus told them not to be afraid. Then the boat immediately reached shore, which was another amazing experience for the disciples, the second miracle in a short time. Lastly, the crowd sought out Jesus, and Jesus corrected the crowd’s misperception by challenging their motivation (John 6:26) and calling them to another level (John 6:27). Finally, it seems that the open response from the people was what Jesus wanted them to see (John 6:28). We want to perform God’s works too, but what should we do?
As we reflect on who Jesus is and the presence of God’s kingdom among us, which part of this story is God using to speak to us? Of scarcity and generosity, which side of the tension are we on? How are people’s expectations squeezing us into a mold that is contrary to God’s transforming work within us? How might our expectations of Jesus be distorted? If we want to be Jesus followers, how can we understand by reflecting on our own motivations? As we eat many special foods this season, how can we reflect on food that endures? May we take time to pause, reflect, and be in Jesus’ presence, to be still for nourishment and refreshment. Perhaps it is in this seeking, listening, and asking again that we can perform God’s works, too.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we come to you anew, grateful that you chose to come as a baby to this earth. Now as we prepare our hearts for Christmas, we want you to help us with our expectations of Jesus. Help us to be the person you want us to be by performing your works within ourselves, in our families, within our communities, and in our world. Amen.