Eat and Drink
As I sit considering the things I see coming to the church in Cape Breton in the next little while, I’m a little overwhelmed. A couple days ago I made a list of what He’s going to do, what He’s going to lay before us to do. It’s a big list. I’ll not bore/scare you with the details here (mostly because you’ll get overwhelmed too) but trust me for a minute when I say it’s large. As I started to pray through just the first thing on the list and got some seriously intense instructions, I immediately shrunk back. “Can’t suggest that to them, they’ll think I’m nuts” was my response to God (I’m still sitting in that place by the way, without the courage to say what I heard just then, but God’s being patient with me as usual). But I heard Jesus voice clearly today, “unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you” and realized, he was trying to give me some bread.
The context for this most bizarre statement Jesus makes is the disciples, overwhelmed by the need to feed a huge crowd, see Jesus do a most extraordinary miracle to feed them. The full bellied crowd tries to make him king and Jesus unleashed a profound paradigm shifting idea, that what he’s going to do in his death and resurrection is the only thing that will satisfy, sustain and sanctify them. (See John 6).
Right now, I feel just like Philip when Jesus asked him where they’d get bread to feed this crowd. Phillip says, 200 denarii wouldn’t buy bread to feed this crowd. Where are we going to get bread to feed this crowd in Cape Breton. Let me do a little currency conversion for you. 1 Denarius was a day's wages for a labourer. Let's say $35000, and there were 5000 men, plus wives and kids so probably more like 20,000 people (bible scholars estimate). So, in the New Cape Breton Translation of the bible that would read, “come on b’y, we couldn’t buy a medium double double and 2 Timbits for everybody here if we made as much and Billy MacDonald down at the steel plant.” When I look at what God has up his sleeve in Cape Breton with my own understanding and ability, I think, there’s no way, there aren’t enough people or money or churches or days in the week… to handle what he has in mind. I’m looking at the crowd and a little bit perplexed as to what Jesus is going to do next. But this is all I know from seeing what Jesus said and did with that seriously large crowd in front of him, with absolutely no human, natural, physical, answer to the problem: To whom shall we go. There aren’t any government programs, church programs, or reality tv programs that are going to help us with this one. Only Jesus himself, alive in a group of people who have gone to Him to be filled and sustained and sanctified by the reality of the gospel, ready to turn aside from the bread of the world, and face what’s in front of us with the fullness of the Spirit taking the couple loaves and fishes we’ve got, thanking God for them and starting to pass them out.
Jesus put this statement to the crowd, that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, and many of them turned away. They went on about their regular lives and chose not to go where Jesus was going. I think he’s still saying the very same thing to us as the church in Cape Breton (and everywhere else I guess, but that’s too big for me to think about): if you want to go where I’m going you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood. Are we going to shrink back because “this is a hard saying; who can listen to it”. Are we going to take offense at what Jesus is calling us to? Or are we going to say, “where else could we go, you have the words of eternal life.”
As the plans and purposes for God get unleashed around us, where are we going to get our bread to get through the good work he’s prepared for us? I’ll be honest, I haven’t even been able to get through that first thing on my list, and I’ll never get to any of the others unless I go to Jesus and get the bread I need to give me eternal life. Every Day. Give us this day our daily bread.
Although the ‘crowd in front of us’ still seems a little overwhelming, the thought of seeing and being a part of God’s much bigger purposes and plans is seriously exciting. And knowing that there are lots of people walking with me who are more interested in the bread Jesus is offering than the bread of the world makes me feel whelmed, no longer overwhelmed. So, let’s walk together into the big big mess of a world in front of us with our baskets full of the bread of life and our cup overflowing with the blood of the son of man. It’s life and life to the full.
Joe Cook is the founder of the RootsDeepDown collective and one of our amazing singer-songwriters. He pastors an incredible community of believers in Cape Breton, NS, who go by the name of Journey Church.