Dozens of Cadbury eggs, packs of Peeps, jelly beans by the pound, mounds of synthetic grass, colorful plastic eggs and disposable wicker baskets — those are the essential ingredients for a proper Easter celebration. Once amply saturated with sugary goodness, we welcome the peace, joy and serenity of the afternoon nap.
But, before we go into that blissfully euphoric slumber this year, let’s pause and reflect on something Jesus declared:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.”
— John 6:35-36
“Still you do not believe." Jesus obviously wasn’t going for mass appeal or trying to win a popularity contest. As the God of truth, he was going for, preaching and, in fact, delivering truth. It wasn’t Jesus' claim to be the Messiah that was offensive to this massive crowd of disciples. His perceived methodology, on the other hand, certainly was. We know this because after Jesus said:
“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”
— John 6:53-55
We then read:
“After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
— John 6:66
We rebels are eager to take advantage of anything that benefits, profits or advances our personal agendas. We walk around with a plethora of ideas and philosophies to serve as comprehensive insurance for whatever monster, obstacle or storm life may bring — one of those lucky charms being the comforting idea of Jesus as Savior and friend. But when our faith in Christ — King of Kings and Lord of Lords — is merely a rabbit’s foot in our grab bag of hodgepodge religion, we have no hope of salvation.
Jesus did not go to the cross of Calvary to serve as a trinket. He came to give life and to give it abundantly. Therefore, despite all the miracles of power, the healings, the feedings, the casting out of demons and the authority of his teachings, the hordes of sycophants and miracle groupies were ultimately dealt a blow of truth: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. With that, the mystique shattered, the harps ceased, and the joyride came to an abrupt halt.
Jesus needed to graciously communicate the critical truth that he is, in fact, the Bread of Life. He is our divine and exclusive sustenance. Jesus didn’t need an entourage or a posse. God Almighty didn’t — and still doesn’t — need anything. He certainly doesn’t need anything from us. But he absolutely and passionately desires to lavish the extravagant riches of his love upon us. Like the doctor who breaks a bone in order to properly set it, Immanuel didn’t hesitate to implode the highly dysfunctional relationship of the deluded mob. Not then, not now.
“But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.”
— John 6:36
Many come. Some even profess belief for its benefits but never really know or truly follow him. Is Jesus truly our Bread of Life, divine sustenance and eternal provision? If so, he said it would be evident in our worship. Not just for a mere hour on Sundays, but in our daily walk in his presence — overflowing, spilling and splashing into every conversation, every relationship, every thought and deed.
As we celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, to what end? A glorious sugar coma? Or is it something eternally greater? Greater indeed! Hope’s confirmation and victory’s assurance both gloriously revealed by that empty tomb.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!