Some Christians love to talk to saints in heaven. Others are afraid that may be forbidden. Some Christians babble on and on in syllables. Others are afraid that may be a deception. Some Christians believe Jesus permits alcohol. Others are afraid of that devil drink. Some Christians love hymns. Others are afraid they are unsuited to modern evangelism. Some Christians love the King James Bible. Others are afraid that is inadequate for today. Some Christians love traditions. Others are afraid they may be too burdensome. Some Christians love to see miracles. Others are afraid that is not always faith because Jesus said an evil generation seeks signs. None of these things matter. Only one thing matters: the bread of life. Whoever comes to Jesus will never go hungry, and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty (John 6:24-35).
It doesn’t matter if you are a legalistic fundamentalist. If you only have the law but don’t have the bread from heaven you are still hungry. It doesn’t matter if you are a bleeding-heart liberal. If you only love your neighbor and don’t have the bread from heaven you are still hungry. It doesn’t matter if you obey all the rules made up by mere men. If you only have traditions and don’t have the bread from heaven you are still hungry. It doesn’t matter if you break all the rules made up by mere men. If you only have your freedom and don’t have the bread from heaven you are still hungry. The only kind of Christian that really matters is the kind that comes to Jesus. Only his teachings and his nourishment can truly satisfy (John 6:24-35).
One of life’s greatest lessons is simply letting go. We let go of family members, friends and if a marriage lasts a lifetime, one partner usually dies before the other. We also make many mistakes in life, develop a few bad habits or have anger issues that we must let go of. Eventually, we must all let go of our own lives, as we face the ultimate end. So, when Jesus described himself as the true bread in John 6:24-35, he was explaining something which we need to grasp rather than let go. We find it hard to let go, and food is one of the hardest things to give up. As we eat delicious foods it is good to remember that we must eventually let go of even that and grab hold of the true bread of life.
When John wrote John 6:24-35, he was not making a journal, but a teaching biography composed perhaps 70 years after the events. Some Christians are afraid of such suggestions. Perhaps their faith is not built on a foundation of truth and are threatened by truth. Q is another honest theory of forensic literary research, from the German word “Quelle” meaning source. Q postulates that Matthew and Luke were compiled using an earlier set of notes about Jesus. Some people claim that this proves that the Gospels are not inspired by God. That’s just dishonest. Let’s not feel threatened by such theories. Let’s realize that God can inspire even material written years later or composed using a common source. Forensics is not a threat to our faith. It gives some clues as to a possible note-taker among the original disciples.
In the modern world, we live with built in obsolescence. It is a short-sighted mechanism built in to products sometimes due to greed, economics or politics. In some countries houses are built to last hundreds of years, whereas in others they last only a short time before needing new roofs or siding. No matter the local time frame, all things are temporary. That is one of the main lessons of Luke 21:1-19. Jesus pointed out that even the well-built temple would be destroyed. As a centerpiece of national life, it had been rebuilt about five hundred years before Jesus’ prediction. The first temple had lasted about 400 years before being destroyed by the Babylonians. The second temple was the one Jesus predicted would also not last. There is only one permanent thing we can build. Everything else is temporary.
Labels: Luke 21
When we read modern commentaries on the Bible, a large number of them tend to prejudice the reading with a self-righteous approach about how women today are supposedly treated so much better than they were anciently. There is a bias about gender unfairness and how those were male dominated societies where women lacked justice. Hence anything we read about the Old or New Testament becomes tainted as we look down our noses at our ancestors. A case in point is the idea of levirate marriage which was referred to in Luke 20:27-40. These were arranged marriages where a brother married his widowed sister-in-law in order to provide for her. Rather than look down at our ancestors, perhaps we need an honest look at ourselves. Our families suffer from historically unprecedented breakdowns. Perhaps our ancestors can teach us a lesson.
If what Jesus said in Luke 20:27-40 is not merely rhetorical, then there will be no sex in heaven. What a disappointment for most of us! Does that mean that heaven will be no fun? Does that mean that we will not recognize Mom and Dad as themselves, because they will no longer be of a distinctive gender? The Bible simply does not say. However, it does give hints that whatever we experience here on earth, including sex, will pale into comparison with what we will have in heaven. The thrills and excitement of earthly life are a mere shadow of the reality that we will have for eternity. So, whether or not we will specifically have sex in heaven, we will have something far better. Sexual fulfillment is fleeting. Heavenly bliss is far superior and will last forever.
In faith matters we have a human tendency to defend various positions illogically. People on different sides may not always be honestly looking for the truth, but a way to justify their own opinions. An example of this is the classic confrontation of the Sadducees with Jesus over the doctrine of the resurrection in Luke 20:27-40. The Sadducees were wealthy fundamentalists who believed that only the first five books of the Hebrew Bible had authority. Their debate with Jesus was designed to lead to an unreasonable (if unstated) conclusion, that the resurrection cannot be true because if it was, the widow could have seven husbands. Jesus pointed out the illogical conclusion by simply stating that such gender issues would be irrelevant in the resurrection. Do we have the courage to change when confronted with the religion of Jesus Christ?
In our modern self-righteous disdain of historic gender arrangements, the idea of levirate marriage probably gives many great excuse for looking down their noses at our ancestors. A question that "liberated" moderns avoid is why our families are so broken in comparison. We have no reasons to brag. When Jesus was challenged with a riddle about levirate marriage in Luke 20:27-40, we may ask, what was that all about? We live in a world where marriage legalities have been taken over by the church and government. It once was strictly a family affair. The same is true of welfare. The well-being of widows was taken care of via family arrangements. In a world where clan and family were very important, marrying a brother’s widow to provide for her was common. Rather than disdain their culture, can we learn something?
In all the Bible’s discussion of the resurrection there is little explanation of how that works mechanically. In our striving for doctrinal superiority and one-up-man-ship there are many people who treat mere human theories with dogmatism. There are those who claim that we are resurrected with the same bodies. Does that mean the same molecules? How does that work with decayed bodies that contributed matter to vegetables that other people ate? Others claim that the dead are asleep. How does that jive with what Jesus said in Luke 20:72-40, that God “is” the God of the living, not “will be?” Dogmatism over unclear matters often reveals a degree of ignorance of all the facts and a lack of humility. Many teachings about the resurrection are mere human speculation. One issue is plain. The resurrection is taught as a fact.