No Other Stream

John 6:60-69

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6 is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament. It has just about everything you could want all in one chapter. A couple of miracles, a bit of Old Testament typology, some really big foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus dunking on some grumbling Pharisees, and his disciples, namely Peter, hopeless as they may be, somehow stumbling into saying something really profound. We’re only going to look at these last few verses, but you should take some time to read the whole chapter. Go ahead, don’t worry, I’ll wait for you…

So just before we picked up in verse 60, Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 with some kid’s bagged lunch, went for a hike in the mountains and walked across the Sea of Galilee to get away from them. They chase him down in the synagogue where he calls them out and pretty much tells them that if they’re only here to see more magic tricks, they’re missing the point and may as well go home. He talks about the Israelites eating manna in the wilderness, children’s stories to them, and then says some really crazy things, like “I am the bread of life” (verse 35). “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (verse 38). “…unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you” (verse 53).

Those are some pretty bold statements, even if you do manage to get past the cannibalistic overtones. I’m the one who has life to give, and without me you’re dead. “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Even when a bunch of the people who had been following him around reacted poorly, he didn’t try to soften it. When people started walking out the door, he didn’t back down or try to explain it away. He pressed even harder, “What if you saw me ascending into heaven, back to where I came from?” I can’t help but wonder if he managed to say it with a straight face.

Jesus doesn’t seem too worried about how many people show up to hear his sermons. He doesn’t waver from saying things that are hard to hear out of a fear that some might walk away. He even opens the door for the twelve and gives them an out if they want to take it, but Peter speaks up for all of them. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life.”

I’ve been rereading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and it’s a scene in the sixth book, The Silver Chair (book 4 if you read them in the proper order), that has had me thinking about this passage in John 6.

But although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: just on this side of the stream lay the lion.
…“If you’re thirsty, you may drink.”
…For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, “If you are thirsty, come and drink.”…It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl.
…The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
…“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
…It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once.

Jesus says some frightening things. Things like love your neighbor, or even worse, love your enemies. He isn’t afraid of saying them either, because he’s not interested in fake followers who only chase him around to see party tricks and get a free lunch. He’s after disciples who will take up a cross. And yet in following him to his death, in eating of his body broken and drinking of his blood poured out, there is life.

Drink deeply of the life of the Savior. There is no other stream.

Reflect

  1. What command of Scripture has been hardest for you to hear?
  2. Trusting that God is loving and wants what is good for you, how can you learn to see that command as Jesus' words of life?
  3. Where are you tempted to seek life apart from Christ?
  4. Do these things satisfy you or do they turn out to be draining rather than life-giving?

Pray

Pray this prayer from Psalm 19.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Taylor Whitson, August 25, 2020
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Debbie Carrier - August 26th, 2020 at 10:06am

Profound. Thank you very much for your thought provoking devotions.

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