Good morning and welcome to another day’s podcast. I hope you survived Monday and are feeling fresh for the day ahead.
Today’s reading is John 6:60-7:13. I am going to focus on v 63-64
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
Yesterday we looked at two words – flesh and blood – and we talked about how we are transformed by consuming Jesus, the living word of God, and God’s grace.
I don’t know about you but I am a work in progress. I read my Bible and pray and I try to live a life consistent with what God is speaking to me about – I try to consume him and I believe that Jesus died for me and through his death I have direct access to God – I have an understanding of God’s grace. And yet…
Last night I was tired. I was cooking and it wasn’t going according to plan. I was stressed and tired and I snapped at my wife and my daughter. Not their fault, entirely mine.
And then last week I had a moment in ministry when I experienced a big, personal win, I smashed it out of the park. But deep inside I thought “this is too good to be true” and I was waiting, expecting, almost demanding for the moment that proved that it was a one off, that it was an accident and that I am not worthy to be used by God in that way. In my head I know it’s all about Jesus and his grace and not at all dependent on me but in my heart I can get all mixed up and believe that I’m not good enough and this shouldn’t be happening to me.
Why do I do the things that I do?
I didn’t sit in the kitchen and decide to be snappy with Helen and Faith. Something in me reacted to the circumstances that I found myself in. I went against my belief about how I should act and react and operated on instinct, autopilot… it was a glimpse of my subconscious erupting to the surface.
I firmly believe that Jesus wants to transform us as the song goes… “from the inside out”
Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
And Paul wrote in Romans 8, Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Two passages about the Spirit and the flesh…
‘The flesh’ is short hand for our desires and our pre-programmed responses… ‘The flesh’ is doing what I want, when I want, how I want… it’s all about me. It’s the toddler in me that sees a toy across the room and pushes everyone and everything out of the way to get it … It’s mine, I want it.
And, ‘the flesh’ is our pre-programmed, automatic response to what is going on around us. If you have learnt to drive you will know that shift from having to consciously remember to do everything while learning, to that moment when we arrive at our destination not quite sure how we got there because driving has become an automatic response to the world around us. Our flesh has been programmed to the extent that we don’t need to think, we just do it automatically.
The flesh, our desires and our pre-programming, can dictate our actions.
Or we can choose to be led by the spirit.
The truth is that all of us sit somewhere in between. So… today, will our flesh, or the spirit be in the driving seat of our lives?
“The spirit gives life… the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”
Do we trust our feelings or do we trust the words of Jesus? Or are we on autopilot feeling like we cannot change? Do we do just what we feel like doing, or do we trust that Jesus has the very best for us… Do we see what we want and chase after it with all we have or do we look to Jesus and seek him and his will for our lives? Or do we sit back expecting that change will just happen all on it’s own.
All of this comes down to what we believe:
…[Jesus’] “words are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
Believe… or perhaps better translated, trust! And yet there are some who do not take me at my word… who do not trust what I say.
As Christians, we are people who have said yes to Jesus. We are the ones who have made a conscious decision to follow Jesus, to believe the words he says, to follow his words as instructions for life. To believe he is who he says he is, to believe that we are who he says we are and to believe the power of the cross, his infinite grace, we believe in his resurrection and the power to bring to life our flesh through the power of the spirit. and we believe that despite our weakness that we have an undeserved role in the extension of his kingdom.
Jesus, thank you for your words of life. Help us today to live by the decision we made at our baptisms or when we first met you, to always put you first. Help us recommit to follow your word and your ways in our lives today. Amen.
READING: John 6:60-7:13
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’
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. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, ‘My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.’ After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, ‘Where is he?’
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’
Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.