Sometimes we want to be like other people, even if those people are miserable. The allure of being part of the crowd inebriates us against our better judgment. Most of the time we hate standing out.
During a very important conversation Jesus is having with his disciples only a few hours before he is crucified, he drops this bomb:
“Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Yesterday my daughter asked me why the song talked about the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Like most people, she thought Christmas was just one day.
We’ve all been there. When the diagnosis comes back positive. When your position doesn’t survive that latest round of downsizing. When your spouse gives up on the marriage. When your teenager calls from jail.
Because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen. But of course this doesn’t make it easier to deal with the bad things that happen to us! Often our response to bad things only compounds the problems! How can we respond in a way that opens the door to healing and redemption?
Jesus sure had some shocking, gruesome things to say sometimes. For example, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:54-56).
(This is a brief, meandering meditation on John 6-7, btw…)
Seriously, for devout Jews to hear something like this would be akin to showing a clip from The Walking Dead in the middle of a lecture to fundamentalist Christians in the 1950s.
But of course Jesus isn’t simply going for shock value here, he is seeking to help people understand and embrace something crucial about himself. Earlier he proclaimed (after multiplying bread to feed a massive crowd), “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…”