Snacking on Jesus (Part II): The Bread of Life

Okay, after a couple of family illnesses, I am back.  Time for Part II.  Before I start, let me get you back up to speed.  I was working through the Gospel of John, chapter 6, primarily the second half.  Jesus had just got done “dropping some bombs” on the crowds the he was speaking to just following the feeding of the 5,000.  Jesus was talking about the “bread” from heaven that he came to offer:

  • They need to work for the food that endures to eternal life.
  • The Son of Man (Jesus) offers them this kind of food.
  • Jesus is the one who has come down from heaven.
  • Jesus is the “bread of God” and it is this bread that gives life to the world.

Not quite getting what Jesus was throwing out there yet, they replied saying, “Give us this bread always.” Jesus gives and answer they did not quite expect:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.   But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.   For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.   And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.   For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  John 6:35-40

All of these things are shocking statements for the time (and even now if you understand their impact).  Everyone is shocked and taken back by what he said.  Let me see if I can set this up.  The people were waiting for miracles and what would happen next at the “Jesus Show.”  He calls them out for it and reveals their hearts about only wanting to see the miracle man and have a miracle meal with him.  So he offers the bread that is better than the bread that God provided from heaven for Moses and the Israelites, but he is this bread.  The people, missing that last part, are still looking for this “real bread from heaven.”  Jesus stops being so subtle and lays it all out there:

  • He is the bread of life.
  • If they come to him they won’t hunger.
  • If they believe in him they will never thirst.
  • The Father, who they know as God, has a personal relationship with him and will give people to him.
  • He came down from heaven.
  • He was sent to do the will of the one who sent him (implication here is God the Father).
  • God’s will is that he will lose nothing given to him (the people) but will raise it up (the people) on the last day (the resurrection of everyone).
  • God the Father’s will is that only those he looks to him (believes him) will have eternal life (which they thought was the birthright of all Jews).
  • Only those that believe in him will be raised on the last day.

Image courtesy of LIFE Group Devotions. http://lifegroup413.org

Jesus pulled no punches.  He put everything out there.  He was from heaven.  He was sent by God the Father to bring eternal life and be the key to the day of resurrection.  These were no small claims.  He turned everything they knew on its head.  They could have written him off as crazy, but they couldn’t because they had just seen a string of miracles that backed his claim.  Of course they grumbled.  How could all of this be?  They knew his mother and father.  They had seen him with his family.  How could he be all that he is saying.

Jesus, hearing the grumbles, responds by throwing gas on this grass fire.   However, this will have to wait.  Don’t worry, it will all come back around to what this means in our struggles with sinful habits and behaviors.  Just trust me.

Closing thoughts to think about:

  • Jesus said that he is the bread of life.  This obviously has some kind of significant meaning.
  • He said that those that come to him won’t hunger and if they believe they won’t thirst.  This has to mean something, as well.
  • God sent him with a plan, and he will be the source of eternal life and the last day resurrection.
  • Jesus has either lost his marble or God was preparing to change the world through him.  You only really have two choices.

I am going to end with the same two questions from last time:

What does this mean for you?  How do you think this applies to fighting our sin nature and finding freedom from habitual sins?

Snacking on Jesus (Part I)

Okay, I realize that sounds weird.  But it is kind of an idea from the Bible, and it is the only way to start to find freedom from habitual sin.  Well, all right, I will give it to you that the Bible doesn’t say that we need to “snack” on Jesus.  Let’s see what it does say.

To get to where I am going, we need to look at John 6.  I am going to summarize most of it and focus in on a series of verses, but I would recommend going to read the whole chapter on your own when you are done here.  (Meaning = don’t just take my word – or anyone else’s – for what the Bible says.)

Here is a quick summary of the context…or if you would like, “Previously on the Jesus Show…”

  • Jesus feeds the five thousand with only five loaves and two fish.
  • The disciples leave Jesus on the shore while they cross the sea in a boat.
  • During the night Jesus walks across the water to meet them, and he and Peter have a little stroll on the waves.
  • The crowds (the five thousand) find Jesus on the other side of the sea and realize he must have gotten there miraculously.
  • The confront him and want to know how he did this “magic trick.”
  • Jesus rebukes them and tells them they are only interested because he feed them with a miracle.

This is where I want to pick up.  Jesus says the following:

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.  John 6:27

They ask what are the works of God that they should be doing.

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  John 6:29

Then the crowds ask him for a sign to prove he was sent from God (like feeding them all from five pieces of bread and two fish was not enough).  They referred to the manna that their ancestors, with Moses, ate in the wilderness.  This was the only “bread from heaven” they have ever heard of before.  I love how Jesus responds to this:

Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.  John 6:32-33

They, of course, said that they want him to give them this bread “always.”  I think would have exclaimed the same thing.  This is when Jesus says something we have all heard quoted millions of times…however, it is mega powerful in context (the context both before and after what he says).

But, however, I am going to leave off right here.  We will pick up with Jesus’ response in Part II.  For now, think on this:

  • We need to work for the food that endures to eternal life.
  • The Son of Man (Jesus) offers us this kind of food.
  • Jesus is the one who has come down from heaven.
  • Jesus is the “bread of God” and it is this bread that gives life to the world.

What does this mean for you?  How do you think this applies to fighting our sin nature and finding freedom from habitual sins?

Who Is Your Fatman?

As I reflect on my post yesterday, I think I need to elaborate on who the Inner Fatman is. This blog is not only about food, weight, and overeating, and I want to make sure that is understood. This blog is about fighting against sin and our sinful nature. It just so happens that my biggest and most prevalant habitual sin is gluttony (overeating). So that is why I will usually write from that perspective, but I want you to see that the lessons I am learning apply to any and all aspects of that pesky sinful nature that likes to hang around.

The Inner Fatman is a reference to my sinful nature, if you didn’t smell what I was cooking. The Fatman is the old self that wants to take over again. Is it always about food? Goodness, no. I, like most other human beings, have all kinds of pet sins and sinful habits that want to pop up from time to time. Gluttony is just the most obvious one, and so the “Inner Fatman” just fits. He has been with me for a long time, and now it is time to kill him and let him go.

So, all of that being said, who is your Inner Fatman? What are the sins that you have the most trouble letting go of? What is it that your sin nature brings you back to over and over again? Is it gluttony, like me? Is it trying to control everything and everyone? Anger? Subtance abuse? Having to be accepted by everyone? Lust? Greed? Envy? Anger?

I think it is so important to name those things that you struggle with. That is the first step to letting God have control and start helping you have success over your old nature. You need to know who you are fighting against so that you can fight (and ask for help? Who is your Fatman? And will you join me on the execution squad to help start putting an end to your sin nature?

There is hope. Christ already died for your my sins and yours. Jesus took that sin nature in himself on the cross. He lived without sin so that he could die for mine and for yours. Sin no longer has a hold on me…and it now longer has a hold on you. We are free from the hold that our sin nature has on us. We just have to live to take hold of that freedom!

Romans 6:1-6:  Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

I will pray for you as you seek to kill your old self. Please pray for me as I do the same!

The Fatman That Lives Inside of Me

I have struggled most of my life with food.  When I was young, I had the metabolism of a squirrel, and my overeating was not shown in my weight.  All of that caught up to me once I got to high school.  I was still overeating and my metabolism slowed, so I put on weight.  I was not huge or anything, but my weight rose higher and higher.  My senior year, I decided to start skipping meals.  I started with breakfast.  Then came lunch.  Before long, I was barely ever hungry at suppertime.  It got to the point that I was eating once every other day…then once every few days…then just whenever I could force myself to eat something (or eat so my mom would not worry).  After a while, the fainting and stomach pains started.  I was at the BMI for my height…but I looked like a skeleton wearing skin.

I tried to start eating again, but I just couldn’t.  I would get huge headaches.  We went to doctors.  At the time I did not quite realize that I was anorexic (sounds dumb when you are on the outside of this, but if you are on the inside of this problem it makes sense…don’t ask me why because I am not sure).  I had all kinds of tests.  They could not pinpoint the problem.  But, thank God that he is rich in mercy and grace!

The night of my graduation, with us still not knowing what was wrong with me, we went out to eat.  I got something called the “Crab Pot.”  It was a pot (pretty big sized pot).  I ate.  And ate.  And ate some more.  I finished my Crab Pot…and my two brothers’ Crab Pots.  I, unlike most people who have to deal with aneroxis, was healed without even admitting that was my problem.  There was no turning back after that night of Crab Pots.

I kept eating.  But it was back to the overeating that I practiced before the aneroxia.  You see, aneroxia was not the problem.  I struggled with my weight from that point on.  It fluctuated up and down as I would have control over food for a while through some kind of diet, and then I would lose control and be back to the same habits in no time.  My weight moving up and down…but spiraling upward.  But guess what, it turns out that weight is not my real problem.  Like the aneroxia, my weight is just a symptom and not the true problem.  What was the problem?  Me and food, or so I thought.

Two years ago, God led me, through one of my best friends, to a study called The Lord’s Table.  This, along with a couple of other things God led me to at the same time (the Bible and a book called Radical), complete changed the way that I viewed God, myself, and my need for Jesus (for more on this, please read My Time Travel Testimony at my other blog).  When I started the study, I wanted to find victory from overeating and lose weight.  I realized that, a couple of weeks in, it wasn’t about food.  It was about me and God…mostly me and how I think of, approach, and relate to God.  It turns out that food was just another symptom.

God showed me that the way I treated food was not a food issue.  It is about how I viewed Him.  God made me for Him.  I was made to love, serve, and worship Him, and Him alone.  God loves me.  He really truly, deeply, and wholly loves me.  He wants me to trust Him.  He wants me to love Him.  I was created for this purpose, and when I don’t there will be an emptiness inside of me.

Food is how I tried to cure this emptiness.  I ate.  I didn’t eat.  I watched what I ate.  But it all comes down to eating.  I focused on food.  I felt like if I could control my food and my weight I would feel happy and whole.  It never worked.  I had to learn to feed on Christ.  Jesus Christ is the key to this whole thing.  You see, I keep turning away from God because I feel unworthy.  I know that I am a sinner.  Turning away from God is what leaves that empty place I try to fill with food.  When I turn, I feel more shame, so I run away more.  I hide like Adam in the garden.  I don’t want God to see me.  When I hide more, I feel emptier.  When I feel emptier, I fill up with food.  When I fill up with food, I feel more ashamed.  When I feel more ashamed, I hide more.  And so the hole gets deeper and deeper.

This is where Jesus comes in.  I don’t have to hide!  I really am a sinner.  I really am separated from God and can’t not see his face (thus the want and need to hide).  But Jesus came.  He lived the life I could not live.  He died the death I should die.  He took the punishment and wrath that is mine.  And he was raised again to prove that my death and wrath was paid for and was accepted.  There is a great exchange that happens.  My death was applied to Jesus (which he did not deserve) and his perfect life is applied to me (which I do not deserve).  God sees Jesus’ life when he looks at me.  I do not have to hide!  I just need to turn to him and trust that he has accepted me through Christ.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

I struggle with food because I turn from God.  I can turn to God with confidence through Christ.  So my life must be about turning to God through Christ.  That needs to be the focus of my life.  How do I do that?  Well, that is why I started this blog.  I want to share my struggles and victories.  I want to share my lessons learned.  I want God to use my successes and failures to draw others close to him.  I want the accountability that sharing this with you gives me to help draw me closer to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”   The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  There is a Fatman who lives inside of me.  I want him to pass away.  I want him dead.  I can only do this by letting Jesus make a new creation out of me.  I want you to join me on this journey…will you come along with me?