Gospel: John 6.15—20. Jesus said He is the bread from heaven which must be consumed to have eternal life. This was very confusing to some of His disciples, and, not believing Him, or trusting Him, many left Him.
In these ‘Reflections’ during the season of Pentecost we have been looking at doctrine that Bp N. T. Wright, a leading Anglican theologian, has taught. We might ask the question, ‘What is the biblical narrative?’ He (Wright) would say the following. God created man to have a close relationship with Himself and to act as vice-regents to rule the earth for Him. But Adam and Eve, disobeyed God which led to their estrangement from Him, and all mankind ever since were estranged as well. God called Abram (Gen 12) to begin a family that would lead to the reconciliation of God and man. Abram and his wife, Sara, were the initiators of the nation of Israel which fills the story of the Old Testament. God intended Israel to bring His message of salvation to the world, to be a light to the Gentiles (Isa 42.6, 49.6), but being fallen people themselves, afflicted with Adam’s fallen, rebellious nature, Israel turned away from God just as the disciples turned away from Jesus in today’s text. God’s plan from the beginning was that the Messiah (the ‘Anointed One’) would come from Israel to fight her battles, restore the temple, bring God’s message to the world, and reconcile mankind, who was still in exile, to God. Israel’s exile was the result of her sins and before she could be reconciled to God and return from exile, her sins has to be forgiven. When Jesus was born, we are told in the Scripture that He was both divine and human (Jn 1.1-18), and was the Messiah in the eyes of the disciples closest to Him. He told parables about a king or a master who had to go away and then returned to rule or be in charge (Mt 21.33ff.; 22.1ff.;25.1-13; 14-30; Mk 13.34f.). These stories have usually been understood to be referring to the ‘second coming’ at the ‘end of the age’, but Wright thinks they refer to God who left the temple when it fell to Babylon in 586 BC according to Ezek. 10,11) and then Jesus who came as the returning king or master to reveal God to men, and to reconcile men with God. Having a divine as well as a human nature, Jesus, the incarnation of the Word (Jn 1.14), reveals God to us in that He was sinless, the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14.6), and the One to whom the law pointed as its goal (Rm 10.4). He came to reconcile man to God, but men are rebels and refused in many cases to believe in Israel’s Messiah. Being both man and God, He reconciled the two together in His own person and sanctified man’s fallen flesh in His person so that at the resurrection the human nature ascended to heaven to rule forever as was God’s intention from the beginning, and all who turn to Christ in faith and love will be raised at the Last Day to rule over the new heaven and new earth. Christ has reconciled man and God, has taken believers’ sins away through the condemnation of sin in His flesh on the cross. Man’s destiny is not to go to a disembodied heaven in the age to come but to receive resurrection bodies reserved for them in heaven to live in the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to the new earth with God Himself (Rev 21).
Memory Verse: The creation itself all will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now (Rm 8.21,22).