Jesus said to the crowd, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 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. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’
What do the words ‘eternal life’ mean to you?
Many books and poems have been written, many pictures painted and much music composed in an attempt to provide some sort of answer to this question. But, each work of art is an expression of one person’s understanding of that phrase: ‘eternal life’.
In our church in Corby Glen there are many famous medieval wall paintings. A detail from one of those paintings shows the dead, still in their shrouds, rising out of their graves. Surely this is another attempt to make understandable the truly incomprehensible.
Jesus says: all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life. Those with a more logical turn of mind may struggle with these words. How can we see the Son? Even if we are convinced that Jesus is that Son, we know that he died on a cross and then ascended to his Father in heaven some two thousand years ago. Is Jesus really setting us an impossible task?
Of course, Jesus is not confronting us with the unachievable. Rather, Jesus is inviting us to look outside the blinkered parameters within which we live out our daily lives. In scripture we read of the glories of God’s creation. We also read that Jesus was there, with his heavenly Father, as that creation was brought into being. So, let us really look around us. Let us not focus on how we might create a beautiful back garden for ourselves, but rather on how the wonders of the totality of God’s creation engulfs and sustains us.
In the gospels we read of Jesus’ teaching about love … that is, love for our neighbours and for our enemies. He says that every time we indulge in an act of kindness and care we are really demonstrating our love for him.
When Jesus speaks of us seeing the Son and believing in him, he is pointing us away from our inward-looking approach to life towards the totality of all that reflects the glory of God in this world.
Today’s big question revolves around our willingness to let go and to believe and trust in the God who sent his only Son into the world in order that we might come to share in the joy of eternal life in his nearer presence.
Over the last couple of weeks we have been revelling in the joy and the power of the resurrection. What more evidence do we need before we let go of our flawed human logic and believe and trust in God and his risen Son?