1 KINGS 19:4-8
Ahab was the king of Judah, back in the late 800’s B.C. He was not a good king, in the eyes of God. He surrounded himself with yes-men that he called prophets, yet he ignored the prophesies of the true prophets. He married a Canaanite princess named Jezebel. Together, they built temples and shrines to the false gods of the Baal cult. Ahab and Jezebel encouraged the people of God to forsake Him, and worship these false gods. The good prophet Elijah lived during this time. There were many confrontations between Elijah, Ahab and Jezebel. It all came to a head in 1 Kings 18:20-40. There was a showdown-contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah. It’s a great story, and I encourage you to read it. But I’m going to spoil the ending. Elijah wins, and has all those priests slain on the spot. When Jezebel hears of this, she vows to take Elijah’s life. (1 Kings 19:1-3)
- Elijah fled the city, and went out into the desert wilderness. He was exhausted. He just wanted to die, and be done with all of this. (vv. 3-4)
- This was not to be. God called a meeting, at his place on Mount Horeb (Mt. Sinai). This place was not around the corner. Elijah was at Mt. Carmel, on the northern end of Judah. Mount Horeb is a nearly 400 mile, 40-day walk. (Elijah’s car must have been in the shop.) An angel woke him, and told him to eat a meal that has been prepared for him. He did, and he fell back asleep. (vv. 5-6)
- This happened again! Elijah is woken, and fed again. Why? This was his last (and only) meal before going on this journey. He needed all of it. He finished his second meal, and went to Mount Horeb. (vv. 8-9)
Elijah was spent and discouraged. He just wanted to die. Yet, God had plans for him. God gave him strength, arranged for a one-on-one meeting with him. He sent him out to finish the task of being God’s prophet in a troubled time. Sometimes we might feel like Elijah, ready to “check out” of life and go home. Yet, here we are. God is not done with us.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
What might God have planned for you to do for him?
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians follows a logical sequence. He first explains what God has done for us, through the gift of His son Jesus. Then, he explains how, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God has adopted us as his children. Now, last week and with this reading, we learn how we are to properly respond to what God as first done for us.
- Paul makes a great list of dos and don’ts for us Christians. Traits of the Good Christian, contrasting them with bad traits.
|Verse(s)||Good Traits||Bad Traits|
|25||speak truth to our neighbors||put away all falsehood|
|26-27||OK to be angry, but only for a day.||Don't sin by being angry for long|
|28||Do honest labor||Thieves, give up stealing|
|29||Say only constructive things||Let no evil talk come out of your mouths|
|31-32||be kind to one another||put away all bitterness|
|31-32||be tenderhearted||put away all wrath and anger|
|31-32||forgive one another||put away all wrangling and slander|
|31-32||put away all malice|
- In summation, he tells us to be like God. Our best example of this, of course is Jesus. So, be like Jesus! (v. 1)
- Finally, we should live in love [for one another], just as Christ loved all of us. (v. 2)
Nowhere in this passage does Paul say that our salvation depends upon how good we are. No. Our salvation comes purely by believing in Jesus as our savior. Doing these good things should be our loving and grateful response for the love that God has shown us through his son Jesus.
JOHN 6:35, 41-51
Today’s gospel passage is a continuation of last week’s discourse. It is a long discussion. We will study this chapter for two more weeks. Jesus is still talking to the people who followed him across the Sea of Galilee; the people who want signs from Jesus, but don’t know why. Jesus makes his point by calling himself bread. But now, he turns up the heat. Next week, he will get even more intense.
- Verse 35 is repeated from last week’s passage, to remind us what Jesus is talking about—that he is the Bread of Life. They must have looked confused, because he keeps developing this thought.
- The Jews* find it hard to swallow this “bread from heaven” concept. They know Jesus family. He is from Nazareth, and did not come down from heaven, or so they thought. These people have seen Jesus. They have witnessed his miracles, and listened to his teaching. Yet, they do not believe. Seeing is not always believing. (vv. 41-2)
- Now, Jesus goes to the heart of the matter. He tells them that if they don’t recognize him for who he actually is, then God the Father has not chosen them to believe. They are on the outside looking in. (vv. 43-46)
- Verse 47 is the cherry on top of the whipped cream of this bible passage. No explanation is need, but we will come back to it in The Takeaway.
- Now, after this profound belief statement, Jesus circles back to the Bread of Life theme. By believing in him, consuming him and his teachings, we will live forever. (vv. 48-51)
I must admit that if someone told me that they were bread, and I had to eat that bread to live, I might be a little argumentative. It is interesting to note that Jesus doesn’t get angry or rebuke these people. Instead, he teaches them. Since they are blinded to whom Jesus truly is, they do not see and believe. By contrast, we have not seen, and yet we believe.
In verse 47, Jesus makes a key statement: whoever believes has eternal life. No conditions are placed on the gift of eternal life, other than belief. That list of traits for the “good Christian” that Paul wrote are not requirements for entry into the Kingdom. We don’t have to do or be anything other than believe in Jesus. By believing, we receive this Free Gift. Because of this free gift, we should want to “live lives worthy of our calling”. (Ephesians 4:1)
* “The Jews” is a label that us used often in the New Testament; it should be explained. We need to keep in mind that the apostles and the disciples of Jesus were all Jews. Jesus was born into a Jewish family, and was raised according to Jewish custom. Jesus was a Jew. Most of those who he taught were Jews; so, most of the first Christians were Jews. It was only later on, beginning with the work of Paul that we Gentiles were brought into the flock. The New Testament was written many decades after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The term “the Jews” actually is intended to mean the Jewish religious authorities. In modern lingo, we would call this “the church”. But the word “church” refers to Christian organizations, not Jewish. What they really meant by saying “the Jews” were the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Essenes, the Sanhedrin, etc.—all those religious organizations who did not believe, but who rejected Jesus and his teachings.