From the opening verse today, we can tell that we are in a very different gospel from the three we have completed in recent days. One of the features that became familiar to us in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is Jesus’ use of parables–short, illustrative stories–to communicate his message. John gives us none of these in today’s twelve chapters. Instead, we hear Jesus using a more direct style of speech, yet one that often goes misunderstood. A prime example of the gap in communication occurs in the humorous interchange when Jesus speaks about being born “from above” and Nicodemus is totally confused, trying to figure out how in the world someone can be “born again” from his mother’s womb.
A theme that recurs throughout much of Jesus’ communication efforts is what I will call the satisfied life. Time and time again, he encounters people who are hungry and thirsty–sometimes literally, but his focus is on a spiritual emptiness. In a variety of ways, he tries to say to them, “Choose me.” Each of Jesus’ famous “I am” sayings, a trademark of John’s that we don’t find in the other gospels, is an invitation for his hearers to be satisfied in him. For me, the most poignant of these moments comes in the sixth chapter today. At the climax of the discussion with the crowd, Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers and thirsts no more, ever.” (John 6:35, The Message)
Jesus continues to offer this invitation, you know. As we seek to cram more stuff into our lives that we somehow imagine will bring a sense of satisfaction, Jesus is somewhere nearby saying, “Choose me.”
Note: You may have noticed that there was no Day 83 post. There was an error in the original reading schedule (there is no day 80), which ultimately resulted in everyone getting a free day this week!