"The Sacrifice" painting by Jen Norton

Today: Psalms 59:1-8; John 6:25-59; Judges 10 & 11

John 6

The Jews were confused about Jesus. I kind of feel a bit sorry for them when I read John 6. Jesus’ teachings about eating His flesh and drinking His blood WERE weird and confusing. WE understand what He meant now, but the poor Jews were understandably clueless. These Jews knew Jesus’ parents and family. These new teachings were just too weird for them. Even his miracles were not enough to convince them that He was the Son of God.

God was doing a brand new thing… the newest thing He’s ever done yet. And every time God does a new thing, it takes us humans a while to catch up.

Their exchange with Jesus in today’s reading is beyond frustrating. Jesus was trying to shift them into eternal vision but they were firmly stuck in the physical world. His words are all focused on the eternal, about “the food that lasts for eternal life” rather than the “food that perishes.” (v.27) But they can only hear and think in the physical realm. They are trying to speak to each other in two completely different languages. This is why He usually resorted to simple parables. Whenever He tried to take them deeper, they got totally lost.

In truth, only the Holy Spirit can open ANYONE’S minds to understand truth. Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to recognize who Jesus is. That was true for the Jews in Jesus’ time and it is still true for us today. As Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (v.44)  The Jews were very lost at this point in the story. My hope is that maybe it all finally clicked for them after Jesus rose again and the Holy Spirit was loosed upon the earth.

"Jepthah's Daughter" art by Kevissimo

Judges 10

How God must have tired of this neverending patten of the Israelites in the Old Testament… fall away from God; cry out to God when things get too bad, God saves them, follow God again for a little while… wash, rinse, and repeat…

How many times did they have to go through this? They never learned!

But we are the very same. May we learn from the foolishness of the Israelites and not make the same mistakes. Don’t forget about God when life is comfortable. Don’t let the wickedness of our culture seep into our own hearts. Hang tightly onto God through ALL the seasons of life!

Judges 11

What a horrid story about Jepthah’s imbecilic vow and the consequential murder of his daughter. To our modern ears, his vow to “offer up as a burnt offering… whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return” is horrific and unconscionable. What did Jepthah THINK would happen? He HAD to know that someone he knew, someone he probably cared about, would likely be the one to come greet him. How stupid!

But I think what we see in this story is just how much the evil practices of the surrounding peoples had invaded the Jewish culture. They were surrounded by people who regularly practiced human sacrifice and it no longer seemed crazy to the Israelites. They had become desensitized to it.

The same is true of us today. We are so surrounded by all sorts of evil that it doesn’t even phase us. But we are called to be a separate, holy people. It is often so difficult to navigate that balance of being in the world but not of the world. Lord God, please give us wisdom!