Friday, August 14, 2020

Today’s devotion is written by Aneel Trivedi.

So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69

When God doesn’t behave the way I expect, I often get frustrated. My current understanding of who God is and how God works in the world is obviously correct, right?

One of my absolute favorite twitter accounts is named @MLBJesus—­­they are a delight to follow on social media. @MLBJesus is (obviously) a parody Major League Baseball account, and they tweet from the perspective of Jesus as a baseball fan, more specifically a fan of my hometown San Francisco Giants. They celebrate the Giants’ wins and make excuses for their losses with a snarky, funny, implied divine order. @MLBJesus takes credit for big home runs, strikeouts, and Dodgers World Series collapses. By following @MLBJesus, I can take pleasure in believing that God loves exactly what I love and even pulls the strings of the universe in a way that makes sense to me and the National League standings.

Now, I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but I think the crowds that followed Jesus across the sea to Capernaum in John 6 leading up to today’s text were looking for their version of @MLBJesus instead of the verified God incarnate. Jesus had just miraculously fed 5,000 hungry people who were now, quite reasonably eager for more bread. Jesus met a real, urgent, physical need, and the crowds tried to make him king – the kind of king they wanted. The kind of king that matched their existing understanding, needs, and expectations.

But Jesus was a different type of king offering a different kind of bread—the bread of life from heaven, his own very body, God incarnate. Jesus offered something better than the food the crowds sought: food for the spirit that sustains a new life, a different way of living. And since Jesus spoke of the bread of life instead of the bread the crowds expected, wanted, and understood—they turned back and stopped following Jesus.

So then, in today’s text, Jesus asked the 12 disciples, “Do you also wish to go away?” Jesus knew that even his closest followers would struggle to accept a revelation of God’s identity that didn’t match their preconceived notions of God. It is a human tendency; we all do it. And so following Jesus means that our expectations, perspectives, and worldviews will necessarily be challenged.

God doesn’t just parrot back what we want to hear, like a parody twitter account that loves what we love and hates what we hate. The new life promised by God in Jesus won’t look exactly like what we expect, and we will naturally struggle with those revelations. But following Jesus means trusting him even when our firmly held perspective or understanding of who God is gets challenged.

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