Scripture: John 6:41-43
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves.”
Today, I thought we’d just focus on these brief three verses that come in the middle of Jesus’ discussion about how he is the bread of life. I think it’s crucial for us to draw out verses like these, especially in the Gospel of John. That’s because in John, Jesus is always portrayed in the very highest way. He is the bread of life, living water, and the Word who was in the beginning. In John, it’s always the divinity of Jesus that gets highlighted. The section we’ve been in for a few posts is a perfect example of this. Now, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the divinity of the Son. But we can’t let the divinity overshadow his humanity. Both are important. And I think this brief exchange between these Jews and Jesus gives us a glimpse of that humanity and Jesus’ acceptance of it.
In an effort to undermine Jesus’ teaching about himself being the bread of life that comes from heaven, the group that had surrounded him begins bringing up his earthly origins. They say, “We know your mother and your father. We’ve known you sense you were a child. You’re from Nazareth, not heaven.” My favorite part of this interaction is Jesus’ lack of interest in what they’re saying. He says, “Don’t complain among yourselves.” I read this as him essentially saying “So what?” So, you know my parents. You know that I was born in this area and that I am a human being. So what? Jesus doesn’t care. He doesn’t hide from where he came from. He’s okay acknowledging his humanity. Where the group thought it would disprove his message, Jesus just keeps on being Jesus. His humanity is just as much a part of who he is as his divinity. His human history is a positive attribute, not a negative one like the crowd believed.
I think our society can be a lot like this Jewish group questioning Jesus. We’re told to live in the moment, or to look towards the future. The past is the past. There’s no point in worrying about what’s already behind us. Honestly, I believe that’s terrible advice. We are the products of our past. History matters because our history tells us who we are in our present moment. There have been good things and not so good things that have happened to us and our communities that have brought us to where we are today. Progress doesn’t happen when you forget that. It happens when you acknowledge the past and the truth it tells us. We must celebrate the joys and be reconciled with the bad. Then, and only then, will we have an honest understanding of who we are and a foundation for growth and change. In certain times during the church year, you might be asked to “Remember your baptism and be thankful.” Memory and remembering are crucial components in or faith and practice. Let’s all remember who we are. Let’s remember who called us and saved us. Let that history shape how you live and act with each new day.
Lord Almighty, thank you for bringing me to where I am now. Help me to remember honestly so that I can live more faithfully. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
We are all the products of our past.